Many years ago a friend told me he had represented himself in a court case. During the days of the trial, the Lord had led him step by step through the legal procedures, and at the end he won the case.
Little did I realize that this would be brought to mind when studying the controversial issue of the Trinity versus the Biblical Godhead.
I was brought up an Anglican, and had believed the Trinity to be truth, accepting it as orthodox for Christianity; however, I have now come to the conclusion that I have been blinded by tradition over many years.
Now I am willing to learn. I believe my understanding of Jesus’ words to His disciples about the coming of the Comforter is a fulfilment of the promise that has led me into all truth.
He will lead you also – if you are willing.
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When Jesus was almost ready to leave His disciples, He said to them, “Little children, yet a little while I am with you. Ye shall seek me, and as I said unto the Jews, whither I go, ye cannot come; so now I say unto you”. John 13:33.
Peter asked, “Lord, whither goest thou?”
Jesus answered him, “Whither I go thou canst not go; thou canst not follow now, but thou shalt follow me afterwards.”
“Lord, why cannot I follow thee now?” John 13:36.37.
The disciples could not rejoice when they heard this. Their Master and Lord, their beloved Teacher and Friend, He was dearer to them than life. To Him they had looked for help in all their difficulties, for comfort in their sorrow and disappointments. Now He was to leave them, a lonely dependent company. Dark fore-bodings filled their hearts.
Jesus saw their fears and said, “Let not your heart be troubled; ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions; I go to prepare a place for you… and whither I go, ye know and the way ye know.” John 14:1-4.
Thomas questioned, “Lord, we know not whither thou goest, and how can we know the way?” v5.
Jesus replied, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” v6.
After further explanation, Jesus said, “I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter that he may abide with you forever.” John 14:16.
Would the Father send someone else to comfort them?
Jesus continued telling the disciples that the ‘other’ Comforter would abide with them forever, “even the Spirit of truth whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him, but ye know him, for he dwells with you, and shall be in you.” John 14:16.17.
The disciples were even more confused. They knew this comforter? He dwelt with them?
Who was He?
Jesus answered their unspoken thoughts. “I will not leave you comfortless; I will come to you.” v18
They were still confused. If Jesus was coming back to them, why did He say another comforter?
At first glance, ‘another comforter’ may seem to imply that a completely different person would comfort the disciples, but Jesus clearly stated that He would come to them. We may also be confused, but knowing Jesus does not lie or contradict Himself, we realize there must be something different about Him when He comes.
In the Scriptures there is an example where the word ‘another’ does not mean another person in the fullest sense of the word, but a change in the original person. “And the spirit of the Lord will come upon thee, and thou shalt prophesy with them, and shall be turned into another man”. 1 Samuel 10:6.
In this experience, Saul became a different person in that he was filled with the Spirit and began to prophesy; he was not another person in the common understanding of the word.
This illustration gives us a principle we can apply to Jesus’ words -- when He comes to the disciples, there will be something different about Him. Instead of being in the flesh, as another Comforter, He will be in the “the Spirit”. John 14:16.17.
It is by the divine Spirit that Jesus and the Father are closely united, and by that same Spirit, the Father and Son are intimately connected with those who love and obey Him.
Jesus said, “At that day [when the Spirit is sent] ye shall know that I am in My Father, and ye in me, and I in you.
He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.” John 14:20.21. [John 14:10.11. 17:21-23]
Judas (not Iscariot) asked, “Lord, how is it that thou wilt manifest thyself unto us, and not unto the world?” John 14:22
Jesus replied, “If a man love me, he will keep my words; and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.
He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings; and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father’s which sent me.” John 14:23.24.
Clearly the world will not see Christ because it does not desire Him. Those who refuse the love of God cannot have the close relationship promised to those who love and obey Him.
The disciples still failed to understand Christ’s words in their spiritual sense, and again He explained their meaning. By the Spirit, He said, He would manifest Himself to them.
Remember, Jesus has said He will manifest (or reveal) Himself to His faithful ones, but not to the world, for “the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God… because spiritual things are spiritually discerned”. 1 Corinthians 2:14.
In his conversation with the disciples about the coming of the Comforter [and subsequent lessons], Jesus did not speak openly, for He stated, “These things have I spoken unto you in proverbs [margin parables]; but the time cometh when I shall no more speak unto you in proverbs, but I shall shew you plainly of the Father.” John 16:25.
The disciples had been educated to accept the teaching of the rabbis as the voice of God, and it still held a power over their minds, and moulded their sentiments.
Many of His lessons seemed almost lost upon them. Jesus saw that they did not lay hold of the real meaning of His words. He compassionately promised that the Holy Spirit should recall these sayings to their minds. And He had left unsaid many things that could not be comprehended by the disciples. These also would be opened to them by the Spirit.
In His discourse about the Comforter, Jesus at times used the personal pronoun ‘I’, which is grammatically the ‘first person’. But in the main, He spoke in the ‘third person’, as if speaking about another person.
On His walk to Emmaus after the resurrection, Jesus listened to the two travellers speak of events that had taken place in Jerusalem three days earlier. Then He said to them, “O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken; Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory?” Luke 24:25.26.
Jesus did not identify Himself as the Christ, but spoke in the ‘third person’, expounding unto them “in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself”. v27.
On many occasions during His ministry Jesus spoke of “the Son of man”. Matthew 25:31. Mark 8:31. Luke 9:22. John 3:14. This is speaking in the ‘third person’, although in this instance, everyone knew He was referring to Himself.
Many Bible passages are written in this manner. A well-known one is Isaiah 53. “He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief…. He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed….” Isaiah 53:3.5.
The Jewish nation, in their rejection of Christ, has no idea of the identity of this ‘suffering servant’, as they call him. Some Jews believe it refers to Israel, but not all verses are appropriate. Many know it identifies Jesus Christ, and precious souls are surrendering to Him as their Saviour.
Therefore, when we see Jesus speaking in the ‘third person’, we should not be surprised. It may be more difficult to understand, but obviously Jesus wanted it that way. Parables need interpreting. Prophecy needs de-coding. Some prophecies have more than one fulfilment, others have two blended together. Sometimes symbols are not readily identified, and we much search and pray. The promise is that the Holy Spirit will instruct and teach us – if we are willing to learn the truth.
Let us consider what Jesus said to His disciples point by point:
Jesus is going away.
He will ask the Father to send the Comforter.
It will be another Comforter.
The Comforter is the Spirit of truth.
The world can not receive this Comforter.
The world can not see Him or know Him.
The disciples know the Comforter.
The Comforter is dwelling with them.
The Comforter will be in them later.
The disciples will not be left alone.
Jesus will come to them.
Jesus will manifest Himself to His disciples.
The Father and the Son will make their abode in those who love and obey Jesus. 2 Corinthians 6:16.
Our only conclusion can be that Jesus will return from heaven in Spirit to teach each individual disciple the things they could not understand while He was present with them in the flesh.
Jesus said to His disciples, “Ye have heard how I said unto you, I go away, and come again unto you. If ye loved me, ye would rejoice, because I said, I go unto the Father: for my Father is greater than I.” John 14:28
Why should the disciples rejoice that Jesus was leaving them?
“Cumbered with humanity, Christ could not be in every place personally. Therefore it was for their interest that He should go to the Father, and send the Spirit to be His successor on earth. No one could then have any advantage because of his location or his personal contact with Christ. By the Spirit, the Saviour would be accessible to all. In this sense He would be nearer to them than if He had not ascended on high.” The Desire of Ages p669.
Jesus knew His disciples needed His reassuring presence. They were still weak in faith. He alone understood that the promise could be realized only if He returned to His Father, for then He could return in Spirit to be with each one of them personally.
Let us praise God that Jesus Christ, bearing a glorified humanity, is interceding for us before the throne of God, and presenting the merits of His sacrifice on our behalf.
At the same time, He is working upon the earth in Spirit, but as the Spirit, He does not plead His blood, instead He works on our hearts, drawing out prayers and penitence, praise and thanksgiving.
“And when He is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment… I have many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth.” John 16:8.12.13.
“Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities; for we know not what we should pray for as we ought; but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.” Romans 8:26.27.
Of course we do not understand the nature of the Spirit, nor do we understand how Christ can work in two places at the same time, one in the flesh and one in the Spirit. But we do not need to understand, we only need to believe.
According to the Bible, Jesus did not send another co-equal Being to represent Him on earth, instead He came Himself.
Christ is His own representative.
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Dear heavenly Father,
I praise you for the gift of your Spirit, and I praise you that in having the Spirit, I have the presence of Jesus to comfort, teach, and guide me into all truth.
His Own Representative