Read: John 14:16, 17, 26; John 15:26; John 16:13, 14
Our teacher in Lord’s Day 20 speaks also of the Holy Spirit as our Comforter. He is reminding us of what Jesus said to his disciples, words of our Lord recorded for us in the passages given you to read.
John 14-16 record the words of our Saviour to his disciples on the eve of his suffering and death on the cross. It was while they were still together at the table where the Lord had celebrated the last Passover with them that he had told them in unmistakable words that he was going away from them. This thought filled the hearts of the disciples with a great sorrow, for they had come to love the Lord very much.
Jesus explains to them in the words of these three chapters in John’s gospel that he had to go away from them; and that, in fact, it was better that he go away from them, for if he would go away on a journey that led to the cross of Calvary and the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea, he would rise again and go to heaven. From heaven he would be with them (John 14:1-3) in a way far, far better than when he walked with them on the dusty roads of Palestine.
What was that way in which he would be with them? He would not be with them bodily for he would be in heaven and they would be on earth. But he would be with them by his Holy Spirit, whom he would send to them. This is quite startling! Christ would be with them by his Spirit in a better way than he would be with them bodily. But so it is. When we have the Spirit of Christ, whom he poured out on Pentecost, we have Christ himself with us, and Christ’s promise is fulfilled: “…and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world” (Matt 28:20b).
These passages in John 14-16 all speak of the Holy Spirit as our Comforter. He comforts us in this world of sin and sorrow. He comforts us while our Savior is absent from us. It is like a bridegroom who, immediately after he and the bride spoke their vows that united them in marriage, went away to be gone for ever so long a time. How sad the bride would be. But the bridegroom assures his weeping bride that he will actually be with her in a very wonderful way, and that this will be her comfort.
That comfort that comes through the Holy Spirit to the church in her Lord’s absence is a comfort that also has with it a very long letter that the Holy Spirit gives the bride of Christ. That letter is the Holy Scriptures. It is a letter from Christ to his bride in which he tells her how much he loves her and how he will come again to take his bride to the place where he is. That is why the Comforter is also called The Spirit of Truth.
It is through the truth in Scripture that we hear our bridegroom’s words and are comforted.