Tuesday 22 August 2017

Bible Book:

“But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you.” (v. 26)

John 14:18-31 Tuesday 22 August 2017

Psalm: Psalm 66


In this passage Jesus continued to prepare his disciples for hisdeath and resurrection, when he would no longer be with themphysically. You may already know that the word that Jesus useshere, which is translated 'Advocate,' was often used in ancient lawcourts. The Greek word is 'paraclete' and it meant someone whospoke up on your behalf, if you were involved in a legal case. Somepeople find this association difficult and have argued that theword should be translated 'Comforter' or 'Counsellor', to give us abetter image of the work of the Spirit. We naturally tend to thinkthat if this is a legal word, the Spirit would act like a solicitoror barrister does today - but the ancient world did not have such adeveloped legal profession as we do.

Most people in the Roman Empire would have been involved in thepatronagesystem. In general, a patron would be someone morepowerful and wealthy than you who offered you support in variousaspects of life in return for various services. This was a morepersonal relationship than it might appear to us - in some ways youwould be regarded as being part of the patron's extended family.One of the key areas of support that a patron offered was to beyour paraclete in court. So, whereas we might read 'paraclete' asbeing a professional relationship, the people who originally readJohn's Gospel probably thought of something much more personal,which extended outside of the court situation.

The idea that the Spirit will be our 'Advocate' is thereforeclosely linked with the opening of this passage, where Jesus says"I will not leave you orphaned". In verse 18 Jesus was using animage which others had used for those who were left behind by ateacher, leaving the disciples bereft. Perhaps the power of theimage gives us an insight into how difficult a transition thosefirst disciples faced and how crucial this promise of the Spiritwas for them.

To Ponder

  • Advocate/ Counsellor/Comforter - which image or word for theHoly Spirit do you find most helpful and why?
  • If you were one of Jesus' disciples, about to be orphaned, whatwould you be most worried about?
  • What would you find most helpful in what Jesus says here?
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