COLLINS COLUMN: The Holy Spirit in us should guide us to live lives that reveal Christ in us

Published 9:00 am Friday, April 26, 2024

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Many scholars call chapters 13 to 17 or 14 to 17 the farewell discourse of Jesus. We now have the great privilege of listening into what John recalled concerning the last teachings of Jesus before his crucifixion. In these chapters we can learn from the words of Jesus but also from his actions. We also learn from the disciples as they struggle to understand while also trying to imagine a life without Jesus.

Chapter 16 contains the final instructions for the disciples before Jesus leaves his life on earth in human form. Chapter 17 records a long prayer from Jesus, and the events in chapters 18 and 19 move quickly after Jesus is arrested in the garden. As this chapter opens, Jesus makes a summary statement: “I have said all these things to you to keep you from falling away.” This must have been sobering for the disciples to hear. Jesus had already told them that they would scatter in the coming hours, and now he indicates that it will be possible for them to fall away because of the intensity of resistance and even persecution they will suffer in the future.

The events of the last few hours with Jesus include a surprise foot washing. Foot washing wasn’t a new thing, but it was a new experience to see their teacher take the role of a servant and wash their feet. The disciples experienced the disturbing news of Judas as betrayer and then learned that Peter would deny Jesus before the night was over.

There were moments that evening that were more comforting. Jesus spoke of preparing a place for them in heaven. He shared that his departure would be followed by the gift of the Holy Spirit coming to live in them and guide them. In the beginning of chapter 15, he shared about the role of the Father and his role as the source of their lives, and then things started getting more intense as Jesus shared at the end of chapter 15 that many would come to hate them just as some hated Jesus.

Jesus explained that he was sharing all of this so they would not only understand the big picture but so they wouldn’t fall away, which was hard for them to consider since they had spent the last few years of their lives following Jesus. Jesus explained that in the future, the same people who were after him would be after them. They would put them out of the synagogues. They would persecute, and even kill, in order to prevent the work they would lead in spreading the good news of Jesus and his present and coming kingdom.

Jesus then returned to the topic of the helper who was to come, but now added that the Holy Spirt would have a role both with the disciples and in the world. We often think of the role of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer, but we probably don’t think much about the work of the Holy Spirit in the world. Note what Jesus said beginning in verse 8:

“And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.”

The Holy Spirit in us should guide us to live lives that reveal Christ in us. The evidence of the Holy Spirit in us produces kindness, goodness, gentleness and so forth, which we find in Galatians. As believers, we often make the mistake of thinking that as we share the gospel, we are to try to convince the non-believer that they are sinners. According to Jesus, that is not our job. The Holy Spirit does that work, and then we participate in the ways that Paul described in 1 Corinthians: some plant, some water, some harvest.


In regard to the disciples and us, we learn from Jesus that the Holy Spirit will guide us to understand more of the truth of God revealed in his word, in his Son, and by his Spirit. The work of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer will always bring glory to God. God’s Spirit unifies his body. We will learn more about the importance of this unity when Jesus prays in John 17.

As Jesus wraps up this discourse, he explained that all these things will happen in a little while. Like children, we often struggle with the “little while” part of our faith journey. We would rather know the day, the hour, the minute things all sort out under God’s plan, but for reasons only God knows and we probably wouldn’t benefit from knowing, God does things in his time and for his purposes.

Jesus did say that while we will have sorrow, we will also have joy. In the waiting, we have access to God the Father simply by mentioning the name of Jesus. We can pray about anything and everything and he will hear us and answer, so that our joy might be full and complete.

Father, thank you for the gift of your Holy Spirit, who guides our understanding of you, your word, and directs our paths. Thank you for allowing us to live and serve for a little while on this side of eternity while we wait eagerly for your return. In Jesus’ name, Amen.