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Gospel of John 15: 26-27, 16: 4b-15 (NIV)
26 “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. 27 And you also must testify, for you have been with me from the beginning.
4b “I did not tell you this from the beginning because I was with you, 5 but now I am going to him who sent me. None of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’ 6 Rather, you are filled with grief because I have said these things. 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. 8 When he comes, he will prove the world to be in the wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment: 9 about sin, because people do not believe in me; 10 about righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer; 11 and about judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned.
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.”
I drafted this reflection between the Thursday when many commemorate Jesus’ ascension to be with the Father in glory (Ascension Day) and the Sunday ten days later when the Spirit of God was poured out on “the believers” (Pentecost). We know from Acts 1: 3b that Jesus was with his apostles for forty days after his resurrection. I surmise that, after his ascension, the apostles and other believers endured a period of considerable uncertainty, though nothing like the agonising days immediately after Jesus’ death when those who loved him thought he had gone forever. On this later occasion they were constantly in prayer (Acts 1: 14) as they readied to be his witnesses “to the ends of the earth”.
In our earthly lives, periods of transition abound. Many are a function of just being alive: forming and building relationships and progressing through stages of age or (un)wellness. Spiritual transition affects us too, in our individual walks with God and corporately in our roles as members of the body of Christ.
With transition can come uncertainty, doubt, hesitancy and, occasionally, fear. Jesus knew about this; he understood that adjustment can take time. We see evidence of this in his words to the disciples: “I did not tell you this from the beginning because I was with you” (verse 4b). He allowed them to gain understanding over time as they progressively learned more about who he was and what he asked of them as his followers.
Jesus promised to send “the Advocate”, “the Spirit of truth”, to testify and to reveal Jesus to the world through his followers. He sends the same Spirit to us. We bear the same witness, so long as we remain faith-filled towards Jesus and invite his Holy Spirit into our lives.