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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Monday, April 22, 2019              

Today’s Scripture Reading | John 16:1–15

“I have said these things to you to keep you from stumbling. They will put you out of the synagogues. Indeed, an hour is coming when those who kill you will think that by doing so they are offering worship to God. And they will do this because they have not known the Father or me. But I have said these things to you so that when their hour comes you may remember that I told you about them. “I did not say these things to you from the beginning, because I was with you. But now I am going to him who sent me; yet none of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’ But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your hearts.

“Nevertheless I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. And when he comes, he will prove the world wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment: about sin, because they do not believe in me; about righteousness, because I am going to the Father and you will see me no longer; about judgment, because the ruler of this world has been condemned. I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own, but will speak whatever he hears, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, because he will take what is mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine. For this reason I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.” (NRSV)

There are many endings in our lives. A family member dies or a friend has a stroke. A child graduates from high school and moves away. You get notice that you have been laid off.

This section of John 16 is part of a larger passage known as the farewell discourse. Standing at the brink of the end of his earthly ministry and the cross, the resurrection, the ascension, and Pentecost, Jesus must be looking into the faces of his disciples and pouring forth his last words to them. He has so much to say and so little time to say it. And as with a commencement, Jesus’ important words were quite likely lost on the disciples. They simply couldn’t know what was ahead until they experienced the loss, the gravity, the joy of the resurrection and the ascension themselves.

Yet embedded in the good-bye sermon is a promise so incredible that the disciples probably dismissed it as one of those parables that went over their heads. The promise is of a powerful sustained presence that will come with the advent of the age of the Holy Spirit. Jesus says, “The Spirit will guide you into all truth . . . The Spirit will declare to you things that are to come.” (16:13) Oh, would that be true!

When we are at the brink of saying good-bye, when we know we must let go, Jesus’ promise is that the Spirit of God will accompany us and that same Spirit will guide us into greater Truth than we ever imagined possible.

What would it be like if we fully trusted the Spirit’s beckoning? Jesus’ farewell assumes that we will fare well, and his promise is that he will not be far from us but will be right there along the way. Trust it and be ready!

Holy God, as we awaken each day to the perils and possibilities of our lives, we hold the door of our hearts open to your spirit of life and truth. Startle us with the Spirit’s power and presence in our lives. And grant that we would be channels of this Spirit in all walks of our lives. Through Jesus. Amen.

Written by Lucy Forster-Smith,
Senior Associate Pastor for Leadership Development and Adult Education

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