Monday 28 August 2017

Bible Book:

“…if I do not go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you.” (v. 7)

John 16:1-7 Monday 28 August 2017

Psalm: Psalm69:1-21


In contrast to Luke's Gospel and Acts (normallythought to have one author), John's Gospel only uses the phrase'Holy Spirit' a very few times. The 'Spirit of Truth' is one phrasethat is unique to John (eg John14:17; 16:13). And so is this word 'Advocate' (John'sGospel and first Epistle of John). The Greek word translated asAdvocate (Comforter, Counsellor, Helper, Encourager) is'parakletos'. The verb from which it derives ('parakaleo') means'to call to one's side'. Whilst the verb often occurs in the NewTestament (particularly in the letters of Paul), the noun comesonly in John's Gospel. And outside the New Testament, noun and verbare used solely in legal and courtroom contexts.

It's also only John's Gospel which describes theSpirit's coming as dependent on Jesus' departure - a potentiallypuzzling notion, but one which offers an understanding of theTrinity in which each of the divine 'persons' 'gives place' to theother. In the biblical witness, Jesus points away from himself tothe Father ("Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone"(Mark 10:18)) and the Father 'points' to Jesus('This is my Son the beloved … listen to him" (Matthew 17:5, also Luke9:35)). An artistic representation such as Rublev's icon of the Trinity depicts each'person' pointing to the other. And Rowan Williams describes thisunderstanding of God as Trinity: as one in which each 'person'joyfully cedes place to the others such that they are free to bewhat they are - which is to live most fully in the life of theothers.

This offers a radical vision of the God as thelife and meaning behind all reality, and of what it might mean forhuman relationships and communities to live in tune with thatdeepest reality: that fullest life and joy are somehow bound upwith the life and joy of others.

To Ponder

  • Have you had someone 'give place' to you? If so, what kind ofan experience was it?
  • Might there be dangers that 'giving place' could be interpretedas an unhealthy kind of 'self-sacrifice'?
  • What other resources (biblical and theological) could helpavoid these?
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