Haven’t We Heard It All?
The Gospel text this week is John 16:12-15. This is a short passage that further reveals the gift of the Holy Spirit. This is traditionally called Trinity Sunday as it speaks to the mystery of the 3-in-1 Triune God, perhaps the most challenging mystery of the Christian faith.
The passage opens with Jesus saying that he has many things yet to say to the disciples, but that they are not ready to hear them. This seems at odds with the previous chapter (John 14:9) in which Jesus states that he is the full and complete revelation of God. There is not really a problem here. Yes, Jesus is indeed the full revelation of God. That does not mean that there is not more to hear by way of guidance. This is a further clarification of the helper that Jesus promised. It is not a further revelation but just the promise of continual guidance from the Holy Spirit. It simply gives a clearer image of the Holy Spirit’s role in the Trinity.
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The Holy Spirit will be with us always and will continually provide the guidance we need. The Holy Spirit will glorify Jesus (verse 14). The reason why is that the Holy Spirit will take what is mine (Jesus) and declare it to you. Jesus then states that all that the Father has is mine (Jesus). This then completes the connection. All that is the Father’s belongs to Jesus and the Holy Spirit will then take from Jesus that which is his and declare it to us. These declarations are the teaching assistance that we so desperately need.
A God in Community
It is all well and good to lay this out in this manner, yet the question persists; what does this mean exactly? We can feel the Holy Spirit in our lives, guiding and teaching us. If we take away nothing else, that is enough. Yet, many still want to know more about this mysterious Trinity.
What I offer is not original with me, but rather from a sermon I heard some time ago. Any mistakes, are of course, my own. The notion is that the Trinity is in relationship and conversation with one another, the way we are to be with each other. It is similar in a way to the Creation story. Too many focus on the what and the how. Is it 6 24-hour days, is it all literal, etc.? Instead of focusing on the what and the how, we should focus on the who and the why. The who is God, creating all of this for us. The why, is because God loves us.
In a similar vein, the Trinity does not really admit of a what and how answer. Better to focus on the who and the why. The who is again, God. The why is, yes, because he loves us. But more to the point, he is teaching us how-to live-in community and in relationship with each other.
This perspective is, I think, most useful as this text kicks off the “teaching season” of the church. The rest of the liturgical year is all about what God through Jesus gives to the Holy Spirit to declare to us. 3-in-1 God, in relationship with himself, so that we may learn to be in faithful and productive relationship with one another.
Praise Be to God