Religion Magazine

Look up and Look Forward. The Comforting Work of the Holy Spirit. John 16.12-15

By Malcolmdrogers
John 16.12-15

There are two ways that the Holy Spirit will guide us into all the truth
He will declare ‘the things that are to come’ – he will help us to look forward.
‘He will glorify me,’ says Jesus, because ‘he will take what is mine and declare it to you’ – he will help us to look up
Life is difficult.
Many people are feeling insecure or simply sad. Companies are closing. People are losing their jobs. Friends continue to leave.
And that is nothing in comparison to what others are going through.
And for Christians life can get very difficult. In some places people are suffering and dying for their faith.
Last Sunday a gunman went into a Catholic Church in Owo, Nigeria, and gunned down 50 members of the congregation.
Jesus, at the beginning of John 16 has told his followers that it will be hard – really hard. They will be persecuted by people who think that by killing them they are doing God’s will, or – if they don’t believe in God – that by killing them they are the doing the good and right thing.
Jesus, in our reading says, ‘I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now’
Of course they can’t.
How can he tell Andrew: you will be crucified on an X shaped cross?
How can he tell Peter: you will die crucified upside down?
How can he tell his followers that we will become the refuse, the detritus of society, at times mocked and hated?
How can he tell them that before they see the resurrection?
But Jesus tells them that the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth will guide them into all truth – and he will help us look up – to look at Jesus, the eternal Son of God, who has been given all things.
Jesus says, “He will take what is mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine”
The Father, who has everything, has given everything to the Son of God.
The Father has given Jesus all things
When Jesus was in the wilderness being tempted by the devil, the devil shows him all the kingdoms of the world, all their peoples, power and authority, culture, achievements and glory. ‘All these,’ he says, ‘have been given to me’ [fake news, by the way], and if you worship me, I will give them to you. ‘
But Jesus does not fall for it. He rebukes satan and reminds him that we should worship God alone.
The truth is that Jesus is the one who has all power and authority. He is the ruler of rulers. He does not need to bow the knee to anyone, least of all the devil, because he is the one to whom every knee will one day bow
And God has given Jesus all people: not be slaves or servants, but to be his younger brothers and sisters, to be his friends.
He has given Jesus all places: the universe, the galaxies, the stars belong to him. So do the fjords of Norway, the forests of Siberia, the mountains of Nepal
Jesus is Lord of creation:
Someone I was speaking to told me of a sermon preached here by Franklin Graham. He spoke of how Jesus was in a boat with the disciples in a storm. And while the disciples panicked, it seemed that Jesus had opted out. He was asleep. And they wake him up, and they say to him, ‘Master don’t you care that we are going to drown’.
Perhaps we feel that we are in the middle of a raging storm. Perhaps we feel that Jesus is asleep. Perhaps we accuse him and tell him that he does not care.
But Jesus stood up and he calmed the wind and the waves with a word, and then he rebuked the disciples with a word: ‘have you no faith?’
Jesus is the Lord of Creation.
He walked on water, he turned water into wine, he feeds 5000 people with a few loaves and fish.
The Spirit shows us that Jesus is Lord of time. He is bigger than time, beyond time. He controls all time - the past and present and future. He created time in the beginning and he will bring time, as we know it, to an end. 
And the Spirit shows us that the Father has given him Life, not just to have life, but he has made Him Life, and the life giver. He has given him all the elements: the ancients thought the fundamental elements were water, fire, earth and air; we are aware it is a little more complicated than that: with atoms and quarks, particles and waves, magnetic and gravitational, electronic and nuclear forces.
The Father, who loves him, has given him all power, all wisdom and all honor and glory
Jesus is, we say in the creed, God from God, light from light, true God from true God .. of one being with the Father, through him all things were made
Imagine that you walk into one of churches in Moscow. It is dark and perhaps a bit forbidding. But a friend tells you to look up, and in the dome above you, you see the image of Christ Pantocrater – Christ the ruler of all.
The Holy Spirit is the friend who tells us to look up in the darkness of life. He reveals to us Christ Pantocrater, the one who is sovereign over all things, ascended, the one seated at the right hand of the Father.
It is the Holy Spirit who will help us to look up, to see that Jesus is Lord, to see that he is the one who is ultimately in control.
“He will declare to you the things that are to come”. (v13)
The Spirit speaks to our hearts of the future – of a transformed heaven and earth.
There is a famous verse, 1 Corinthians 2.9-10,
‘.. no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the human heart conceived, what God has prepared for those who love him’
I have often used that verse to say that we cannot even begin to imagine what heaven will be like.
But Paul is saying something a bit different. Because he continues, “these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit.”
In other words, humanly we cannot begin to describe heaven, but the Spirit opens our spiritual eyes and gives us a glimpse, a taste of heaven.
Paul knew that himself. He knew immense suffering, but he was given a glimpse of heaven. It was too overwhelming to put into words, and he only hints at it.
Sometimes, especially after our 9am service or Wednesday communion, at the end of the service, when all words have been said and all actions have been done, there can be a profound silence, a deep peace. That is a glimpse of heaven.
Or when we come forward to receive the bread and wine, with open hands, bringing nothing but our emptiness and our longing for God, and we receive. That is a glimpse of heaven
Or when we see God at work dramatically and unexpectedly – and heaven breaks into earth, and we see a glimpse of heaven
When a gravelly voice becomes for a few moments while singing a hymn or song crystal clear; when a person who cannot physically see for a few seconds has their eyes opened; when we have an encounter beyond words in a dream or even in a vision; when a word from God – whether in scripture or through a preacher or a friend, or a thought that comes into our mind, and we suddenly see it, understand it, in a new way – and we know it is of God because it may bring rebuke, but it also brings real freedom and joy: 
in all those things it is the Spirit giving us a glimpse of what is to come, a glimpse of heaven.
It is hard, and it may get harder. But we are not on our own. The Spirit of the Father has come to us and he is with us. 
And he helps us to look up at the glory of Jesus, the Son of the Father - to whom the Father has given all things; and although he tells us that it will be hard, he urges us to look forward – beyond the trouble - to the day when we will share in that glory.

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