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Gospel according to John 16: 12-15 (NIV)
12 “I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. 13 But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. 14 He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you. 15 All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will receive from me what he will make known to you.”
For Trinity Sunday, these four verses from the Gospel according to John are the *suggested reading. As is shown in paragraphs below, any of a number of similar passages could have been offered.
In John 16: 15 the three persons of the Trinity are clearly presented. Jesus explained, “All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will receive from me what he will make known to you.”
The Father and Jesus have been involved inseparably in all that has been created, including wisdom and including responses to the prayers of every person whom they have created. The Spirit has access to all of this and is able to receive it and declare it to those who are open to accepting it.
Though the word “Trinity” is not mentioned in any verses of Scripture, Jesus often presented the identity of the three persons through his teaching to his disciples. After Jesus’ ascension to be with the Father, the disciples experienced the presence of the Spirit (Acts 2) in an amazing and very public way.
In this long address to his disciples in the Gospel according to John, Jesus used a number of different names to refer to the Spirit. In John 15: 26 we read that the Spirit of truth is the “Advocate”: “When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father – the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father – he will testify about me.”
In John 14: 26 we learn that this “Advocate” is the Holy Spirit: “But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” In both John 15: 26 and 14: 26 we find the identity of the three persons again clearly laid out before the disciples.
We can be grateful that this Advocate is not a “fly-in, fly-out” worker. In John 14: 16 Jesus has confirmed the permanence of the arrangement: “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you for ever.” The promise of the continual presence of the Holy Spirit should be for us a source of great comfort.
The fourth reference to “the Advocate” in this Gospel is in John 16: 7: “But very truly I tell you, it is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you.”
While we might struggle with the intellectual conundrum of a single God manifest in three persons, Scripture leaves us in no doubt that Jesus wanted his disciples then and now to have faith in the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.
* An Australian Lectionary 2019, Year C, Broughton Publishing, Sydney, 2018.