ヨハネによる福音書16:5-15 John 16:5-15,
Before Jesus was taken captive and crucified, he told his disciples a number of very important teachings. One of these is the teaching that I preached you last week, “I am the true vine.” Jesus compared himself to the “vine” and his disciples to its “branches.” He taught, “Abide in me.” He taught that those who believe in him and remain his disciples can bear the fruit of eternal life. But when you think about abiding in Jesus, isn’t it very difficult to continue believing in Jesus after he was crucified and killed? If Jesus, the teacher, died, wouldn’t the relationship between teacher and disciple end and it would no longer be possible to abide in Jesus?
In response to the disciples’ concerns, in verse 7 Jesus said. “Nevertheless I assure you that it is in your interest that I am leaving you. If I do not go, the advocate will not come, whereas if I go, I will send him to you (Revised English Bible).” “I am leaving you” means that Jesus will die on the cross and will be gone from the disciples. That seems very sad for the disciples.
However, Jesus said, “It is in your interest that I am leaving you.” And the reason for this is: “If I do not go, the advocate will not come.” Jesus explained that if he goes, he will send “the advocate” to you. An “advocate” is someone who defends you to a judge in court. After Jesus is no longer on earth, his disciples will go through many painful experiences. Sometimes they may even want to stop being Jesus’ disciples. But after he ascended to heaven, Jesus said that he would send “the advocate” to be with such weak disciples and to defend them to God the Father so that God would not abandon them. That is God the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is invisible, but he is with those who believe in Jesus, encouraging them and defending them to God the Father.
God the Holy Spirit, “the advocate,” is also the “Spirit of truth.” In verse 13, Jesus said, “When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth.” This means that after Jesus ascends to heaven, the Holy Spirit will come to the disciples, and they will understand the truth that they did not understand before. He will help them understand such truths as why Jesus was crucified, what kind of grace those who believe in Jesus will receive, and what kind of judgement those who don’t believe in Jesus will receive. The disciples did not yet understand these things when Jesus was on earth. However, after Jesus ascended to heaven, they came to understand him better through the work of the Holy Spirit.
Japan is a country where there are very few people who believe in Jesus. It is said that only about 1% of the people living in Japan believe in Jesus. We may feel insecure in the midst of so many people who do not believe in Jesus. We may even think about quitting believing in Jesus. But God, the invisible Holy Spirit, is with us in the midst of such people. He will defend us and encourage us. Let us not forget that.