Before our Lord was about to return to heaven after having spent thirty some years on earth as a human, his followers were greatly troubled. The one who had been their inspiration, their guardian, their teacher, their helper, their strength-giver, appeared to be about to abandon them and leave them alone to face the world.
But we have the words of Jesus, recorded by the beloved disciple, John in John 14:16, 17 where he said “another comforter” would come to their aid.
Once again I think it really helps us to understand the greek words which are used here because they paint a much fuller picture than their English translation.
In greek there are two different words for “another”. There is one for “another of the same kind” and a different word for “another of a different kind”.
In English we might pose a question such as “would you like another drink”? Depending on the context that might mean “would you like a refill of your coffee?” or it might mean “would you prefer to have tea or coffee?”. There would be no such ambiguity in Greek for you would either use the word for another-of-the-same-kind, “more coffee” or another-of-a-different-kind, “tea or coffee”.
Jesus tells his disciples, and by extension us, that he is sending another comforter of the same kind as he is - the person whom today we call the “Holy Spirit” - to be and do everything that Jesus-as-a-human had been and done for them. Note that in typical God fashion this was not to be a reducing of God’s presence, it was to be a vast enlargement of his presence by removing the limitations that Jesus had in time and space. All the attributes we adore in Jesus were now to be made available anywhere and at any time.
In English the word “comforter” derives from two Latin words which mean “with strength”, and there is a similar but expanded meaning in Greek. The Greek word is “Paraclete” which is used in many ways to describe someone who brings strength, knowledge, empathy and wisdom to a person in need. So, for example, if you ended up in court your lawyer/defender who knows so much more than you do about how the law works would be your Paraclete. The Boy Scout helping a little old lady across the busy road is a Paraclete. The consulting physician in rare tropical diseases is a Paraclete. The minister who comes and holds your hand and prays with you in distress is a Paraclete. I’m sure you can extend the list from your own experience.
There is an extra twist, however. In 1 Corinthians 6:19 Paul says
“Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God?” [NIV]
So, not only does Jesus send his spirit to be with us generally, but the spirit resides in our bodies individually and is available on a personal level 24 hours a day, 7 days a week! No need to dial 911 to summon him because for every believer in Jesus he is right there all the time with wisdom, strength, encouragement, healing, advice, and guidance.
It makes no sense for a Jesus-follower to try and live a God-pleasing life in his or her own strength when we have such a resource available on immediate call. To ignore his influence is to fall prey to the sin of pride, which never ends well.
Taking advantage of this inestimable gift allows us to have the same testimony as Paul expresses in Philippians 4:13
“I can do all things [which He has called me to do] through Him who strengthens and empowers me [to fulfill His purpose—I am self-sufficient in Christ’s sufficiency; I am ready for anything and equal to anything through Him who infuses me with inner strength and confident peace.]” [Amplified Bible].
Let’s be sure we are leaning on the helper who has been provided to enable us to fulfill our part in expressing the glory of God. I don’t know about you, but I’m ready to accept all the help I can get!