Only a fool sees contradiction where mystery is intended.
An examination of Yochanan/John 14:16-31
John 14:16-17 “I will ask Ha-Av—the Father, and He will give you another Advocate--Parakletos, Helper, comforter, Intercessor, one who comes alongside, that He may be with you l’olam vayid—forever; 17 that is the Ruach ha-emet—Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you—the Talmidim, disciples.”
The Talmud says:
“What is the Mashiyach’s name?... Some say: His name is Menachem—Comfort—the son of Hezekiah, since it is written, ‘because the comfort—Menachem—that could relieve my soul, is far from me’” (Lamentations 1:16).” (Sanhedrin 98b)
The Ruach ha-Kodesh—Holy Spirit, paraclete—is not a New Testament invention, the Torah speaks of Him often, as do the prophets and writings of the Hebrew Scriptures. In the Tanakh—Old Testament, the Ruach ha-Kodesh is described as being with prophets, kings and reverent Israelites and, in rare circumstances, it is said that He fills or is in certain individuals (Yosef, (Bereshit/Genesis 41:38), Betzal’el, (Shemot/Exodus 31:3)). However, we should not confuse filling with indwelling. We can fill a glass jar with sand, which can then be poured out, but if we use that same sand to form another jar it becomes an intrinsic part of the glass itself. Yeshua is offering Israel something new, the indwelling of the Ruach ha-Kodesh. In the past we could be filled or with or have the Spirit dwell in us temporarily, now, in Messiah we are to be indwelt—that is, an eternal unity with the Ruach ha-Kodesh, not of our own efforts but by way of a gift, one that can only be received through the catalyst of a humble returning to G-d.
It is interesting to note the cultural terminology, “Ruach ha-emet—Spirit of Truth”: the words, “ha-d’var emet—the word of truth” are written on many Torah Ark—cabnets that house the Torah scroll—doors throughout the world to this day. The Torah Ark contains the Instruction of G-d for His people. Effectively Yeshua is saying that the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of the Torah. Perhaps you’ve heard the term, “keep the spirit of the law,” this expression encourages us to remember the motivation behind the law, so as to avoid miss applying its literal meaning. Put simply, The Spirit of G-d will live in us, His instruction will direct our actions. We must simply say, “I do,” the groom cannot say it for us. For those who receive the Ruach Ha-Kodesh, Instruction is no longer a punitive burden to bear, He has now become a guide who walks alongside us, hence the term ho parakeklemenos—one who walks alongside.
John 14:18-20 “I will not leave you as orphans--comfortless, without a care giver; I will come to you.19 After a little while the world will no longer see Me, but you will see Me; because I live, you will live also. 20 In that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you.”
Messiah will not leave us as orphans, without comfort. This is the juxtaposition to the Comforter—Holy Spirit. His Talmidim will soon become disillusioned by His leaving them, so He is preparing them with these words of comfort. Yeshua knows that the short time they are without His physical presence will be extremely traumatic for them, however He also knows that unless He leaves they will never receive the salvation--Yeshua—they need. This is like a parent who leaves a sick child and rushes out to buy lifesaving medication. The child feels abandoned for a short time—which may seem like an eternity—but upon the parent’s return the medication is administered, thus saving the child’s life. The parents love is proved in the leaving, though it seems cruel to the child at the time it soon becomes clear that it was love that motivated the action. False love is only concerned with the moment, the temporary, but true love seeks an eternal outcome.
Here we are taught by Messiah that in Him we are able to receive—accept what is given— the Ruach Ha-Kodesh, as a permanent indwelling, “I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you.” This means that after Yeshua’s resurrection and ascension to the Father, He and the Father together will impart the gift of the Spirit to those who humble themselves to receive Him. Without humility—that is, agreeing that we can’t redeem ourselves—we cannot receive Him, this is the predicament that the world finds itself in because the world seeks to earn the favor of whatever god it chooses. In this respect even the name of the G-d of Israel can be miss represented as a force rather than a person, He then becomes—from the world’s perspective—a vindictive G-d whose favor must be worked for. Messiah imparts the Spirit of HaShem, whom He gives to those who will receive Him. It is through the refusal of this gift that the world becomes blind of its own choosing.
For those who do receive Him Messiah promises an intrinsic relationship of G-d and humanity. The Ruach ha-Kodesh will not only fill us, be temporarily in us or be with us, as in the past: He will now become an inseparable part of our being. When the Holy Spirit is continually dwelling in us through Messiah, He cannot be separated from our blood, our mind, our heart or any part of our being because—as the Scripture says—we have become new creations. This is what it means for G-d to make a home in us—as stated in the following verses. In light of this, it is important to note that Yeshua has also said, “I go to prepare a place for you.” He has made a home for us and in us.
John 14:21-23 “He who has My instructions--mitzvot—and keeps them is the one who loves Me; and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will disclose Myself to him.”22 Y’huda T’oma—Judah Thomas—said to Him, “Lord, what then has happened that You are going to disclose Yourself to us and not to the world?” 23 Yeshua answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word--d’var, logos, teachings, halakhah; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him.”
It’s almost as if T’oma—Thomas is saying, “But the world, or at least Israel, has heard your teachings, you’re really just asking us to return to the spirit of the Torah, why wouldn’t they eventually be able to see you?” T’oma may be thinking that observance of Yeshua’s instructions would help anyone to see Him, however Yeshua clarifies this saying with the words He has already used prior to this, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word—d’var.” Notice that love comes first, the keeping or obeying of Messiah’s word—essence, ethos, logos, halakhah—proceeds from a love motivation and not the other way around. Like faith and works, love and action are a cycle that begin with the Love of G-d.
John 14:24 “He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine, but the Father’s who sent Me.”
Again we see where disobedience finds root. Notice that the choice not to love Mashiyach comes first, this is followed by disobedience. G-d doesn’t send people to eternal punishment, people choose to go to eternal punishment. G-d is Just, all will have an opportunity to receive or refuse the gift of His Son. It is clear from Messiah’s words however that all will not receive Him. There remains a judgment, a day of reckoning for humanity and for the adversary and his minions.
Yeshua then reminds us that His words are the words of the Father. G-d is three persons but He is not three separate persons.
John 14:25-26 “These things I have spoken to you while abiding with you.26 But the Advocate--paraclete, Helper, comforter, Intercessor, one who comes alongside, the Ruach ha-Kodesh, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance--zakhor—all that I said to you.
Almost every Jewish observance begins with the lighting of two candles which symbolize a two-fold concept, a sum if you like: shamore v’zakhor—observance and remembrance equal halakhah—the way we walk. Yeshua is teaching us that the way we walk—our halakhah—is birthed in the Ruach ha-Kodesh, Who teaches us how to zakhor—remember—what G-d has done, remember what G-d is doing and remember what G-d has promised He will do—all of these aspects of remembrance are the result of G-d’s character in action. The Scripture says, “Who was and is and is to come.”
John 14:27-31 “Shalom—peace, wholeness, structural soundness—I leave with you; My shalom I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful. 28 You heard that I said to you, ‘I go away, and I will come to you.’ If you loved Me, you would have rejoiced because I go to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. 29 Now I have told you before it happens, so that when it happens, you may believe.30 I will not speak much more with you, for the ruler of the world is coming, and he has no hold on Me; 31 but so that the world may know that I love the Father, I do exactly as the Father instructed Me. Get up, let us go from here.
Shalom—Peace—does not come to those who refuse it, it comes only to those who receive it. Mashiyach Yeshua—the Prince of Peace—does not force Himself on anyone but to those who will receive Him He promises that He and the Father will make an eternal home in that person. This peace is not a temporary gift that will fade with time and disappear—the world gives gifts like that. On the contrary, this gift of G-d is eternal, “I do not give to you the way the world does, so take heart and don’t be troubled or fearful.”
As I said earlier, His going away has greater purpose. When Yeshua says, “the Father is greater than I,” I am reminded of the Hebrew word Gadol, which gives the sense of width, volume, territorially larger. The Father is obviously outside of Messiah because G-d is one and everything exists and has it’s being in Him. Yeshua—G-d with us—is by necessity inside the Father, therefore the Father is greater. This does not diminish the G-d head in any way. Yeshua remains G-d while submitting to the Father, only a fool sees contradiction where mystery is intended.
The ruler or prince—not king—of this world has no hold over Messiah. It’s Yeshua who calls the shots. As is said elsewhere, “I lay down my life that I might take it up again, no one takes it from me.” (John 10:17-18)
Notice how this passage ends, Yeshua has been telling His followers that love must precede obedience and in ultimate fulfillment of this Yeshua says of Himself, “so that the world may know that I love the Father, I do exactly as the Father instructed Me.”
The final words, “Get up, let’s go from here,” leave me with the sense that all that has gone before is intended to wake us up to a new eternal perspective. We go from here with our King. We may go into temporary suffering with Him but it will not end there, we go from here toward the Olam Haba—world to come, we go to our eternal home in Him, both now and forever.
© 2014 Yaakov Brown
Spiritual leader of Beth Melekh Community, Auckland, Aotearoa, N.Z.