(A) Introduction. (Read the reference)

The disciples were full of grief because Jesus had told them he was going away. "My children, I will be with you only a little longer." Jn13v33. His closest followers were upset because they were thinking about themselves - their loss - the end of their hopes, aspirations and influence. Jesus rebukes them; they should have been thinking about him: "None of you ask me, 'Where are you going'. He was going to a position of power and authority and this should have made the disciples glad.

It's as if the Minister of Education spends 6 months teaching in a failing school and then tells his pupils that he is going back to his ministry. A handful of students who have appreciated his efforts in the classroom are disappointed but he tells them he can actually do far more for them and their school back in Government.

(B) The Holy Spirit is a more effective helper than Jesus.

Jesus said to his demoralised disciples: "It is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Counsellor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you." v7.

Lots of Christians think if would be wonderful to be with Jesus in the flesh - to see him, talk to him, discuss our problems and get our difficult questions answered. We concur with the words of that rather sentimental hymn:

        I think when I read that sweet story of old,
        When Jesus was here among men,
        How He called little children, as lambs to His fold,
        I should like to have been with them then.
        I wish that His hands had been placed on my head,
        That His arm had been thrown around me,
        And that I might have seen His kind look when He said,
        "Let the little ones come unto Me."

Jesus told the eleven that they would be better off with the Holy Spirit. In other words the physical presence of Jesus did not give the disciples an advantage over us. This seems scarcely credible! How is the Holy Spirit a better helper?

(1) He is a personal helper.
The Holy Spirit is every believer's personal tutor. It is as if each Christian has his or her own teacher tailor made to their needs. Jesus while on earth was more like a classroom teacher. He taught his disciples collectively - together. The Holy Spirit works on a one to one basis. He engages each Christians individually. This is the best sort of teacher to have!

(2) He is always available.
Jesus was not always available to his disciples. He could only be in one place at once. There were times he was asleep, preoccupied or at prayer. If Jesus gave time to one individual he of necessity denied time to someone else. He could only deal with one person at a time. There was the occasion when Jesus' mother and brothers wanted to speak to him and he was otherwise engaged. Jesus said, "Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?" Pointing to his disciples, he said, "Here are my mother and my brothers." Jesus knew he had an obligation to all who believed in him.

It is very frustrating when you urgently need help but cannot get it - you are ill and the surgery is closed, a pipe leaks and the plumber is not available, you are stuck and the teacher is assisting someone else, the church needs a coat of paint and the decorator is booked up for months ahead. The Holy Spirit is always on call. He is always there for the Christian. Jesus was arrested and taken from his disciples but no-one can take the Holy Spirit from the believer. He is with us wherever we are - the study, the pulpit, the hospital ward, the prison cell, the labour camp. The Holy Spirit helped Matta a Sudanese Evangelist sentenced to 30 years in prison to witness to his fellow prisoners and lead many of them, including Muslims, to Christ.

(3) He is an unobtrusive helper - disembodied and almost anonymous.
We are not distracted by the Holy Spirit's bodily presence - by his mode of speech, appearance, personality or presentation of the truth. If we were in the bodily presence of Jesus we might find ourselves more interested in everything about him except what mattered - the truth he taught. The Pharisees dismissed him for lack of education. Mary clung to his resurrection body because she loved him. The disciples were rather intimidated by Christ's teaching method. He was pungent, pithy, forthright and provocative. He told parables, used irony and spoke in riddles. It is clear that there were times the disciples did not find it easy to question Jesus. After being told by Jesus that he was leaving them the disciples wanted to ask him where he intended to go but didn't. John tells us: Jesus saw that they wanted to ask him about this ... . Ch16v19.

I found during my career as a teacher that my personality reduced my effectiveness. I could be funny and some pupils always hoped to provoke a laugh. Things could get very exciting when I got angry and a few boys enjoyed stirring me up. My brusque delivery and aggressive questioning frightened some of the girls. Others found my vulgarity off putting. Some of the best teachers were quiet, calm, self-effacing , ordinary but approachable. They were always available to help and pupils never minded asking them for assistance. I think the Holy Spirit is like these teachers. We are hardly aware of his presence most of the time. It is difficult to know when he actually is helping us. But the Spirit is there and he is guiding us into all truth with the minimum of fuss.

(4) The Holy Spirit promotes active rather than passive learning.
During the three years the disciples spent with Jesus they appear rather passive. They did not think much for themselves. After Jesus told the parable of the sower his disciples asked him for an explanation rather than work out the meaning together. Jesus wasn't impressed. He said to them: "Don't you understand this parable? How then will you understand any parable?" Mk4v13. If Jesus had been asked to write a report on his disciples, 'Making slow progress,' would have been a much used phrase.

The Holy Spirit is a very different kind of teacher. He only helps those engaged in active learning. If I want to know what a Scripture means I first have to think about it. I may need to think for a long time. What the Spirit does is give a hint, make a suggestion, point me in the right direction, put me on the right track ... . He does not do everything for us. The Spirit is like a wise old craftsman who gives a word of advice now and again to his eager apprentice. The apprentice learns on the job. That is how Christians learn with the assistance of the Spirit.

Active learning is the best sort. The disciples made very rapid progress after Pentecost. They thought long and hard about Christ's words and work and the Holy Spirit helped them to both remember and understand what Jesus did and said.

(C) The gift of the Holy Spirit was conditional on Jesus completing his work.

Jesus made this clear when he said to his disciples: "Unless I go away, the Counsellor will not come to you." v7.

No playwright would be enthusiastic about entrusting an unfinished work to a director to interpret to a group of actors. The director really needs to read the whole play to understand it.

Jesus had to complete his work - to make sacrifice for sin, to be gloriously raised from the dead and ascend to the right hand of the Father - before the Spirit could be sent to interpret it. The Holy Spirit was only able to make Jesus known after the final chapter of redemption's story had been written and authenticated by God the heavenly Editor.

(D) The Holy Spirit is the helper who enlightens.

There are inspirational teachers who can quite quickly reveal the wonder, potential and fascination of poetry, classical music, mathematics, science and painting. I can remember a lesson from Mr Tapster my art master nearly 50 years ago about a painting by Monet - two figures and a field of poppies. He was able to demonstrate the wonderful skill Monet exhibited in producing this work of art. Several years ago, the night my old friend Len Pawsey died, I watched a remarkable TV program on Schubert that opened my eyes to the composer's creative genius. Mr Tapster and the presenter of the program on Schubert shared two things in common: they were advocates of their subject and brought enlightenment.

The Holy Spirit enlightens the believer about three tremendous truths about Jesus. We mustn't forget that Jesus was going to be rejected, accused of being a wicked, blasphemous man and condemned to die like a felon on the cross. Who would ensure that the world was proved wrong? Who would be the advocate of Jesus? The answer of course is the Holy Spirit. Jesus said: "When he comes he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment." v8.

(a) "In regard to sin, because men do not believe in me." v9. The world, mankind in general, is in a state of sin - in rebellion against God and alienated from him. That is why the Jews did not believe in Jesus and remains the reason so many reject him today.

(b) "In regard to righteousness, because I am going to the Father." The Holy Spirit convinces men and women that Jesus did not die because he was unrighteous, rather he was allowed to die because he was righteous. As Peter later put it: For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. 1Pet3v18.

God vindicated Jesus by raising him from the dead and exalting him to the place of highest honour. God has decided in favour of Jesus and those enlightened by the Spirit share this verdict.

(c) "In regard to judgment because the prince of this world stands condemned." The world passed judgment on Jesus and sentenced him to death. It still does and would put him to death if it could.

The Holy Spirit shows that Jesus, by offering himself as a sacrifice for sin upon the cross, defeated Satan. The great enemy of God and man did all he could to ruin Christ's work but failed. He failed to undermine the determination of Jesus to do, whatever the cost, the will of his Father in heaven.

The Holy Spirit rapidly convinced the disciples of these cardinal truths after their Pentecostal experience. This is evident from an analysis of Peter's sermon on that amazing day when the Spirit was given in power. Peter emphasised that it was wicked men who put Jesus to death on the cross, it was God who raised him from the dead and exalted him. He concludes his stirring address by saying: "Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ." Acts2v36. The result of this first gospel message was emphatic: When the people heard this they were cut to the heart ... . v37. They were convicted by the Spirit of the truth of Peter's declaration.

Christians believe unequivocally and without doubt that: all are sinners, Jesus is righteous and has gained the victory over sin and death and Satan, and by faith we can share in that victory.

(E) The Holy Spirit guides us into all truth.

He is:

(1) The Holy Director.
The Holy Spirit did not write the script. He is like the director of one of Shakespeare's plays - he interprets the work. The Holy Spirit does not speak about himself, he originates no new truths, he interprets the life and work of Jesus. "The Spirit will take from what is mine and make it known to you." v14. "He will not speak on his own." v13.

The best director's know the author's work and will remain faithful to it. They will not add or subtract from it. Their task is to make the author's intentions plain to the actors. They don't necessarily give the actors too much help - a suggestion here, a hint there and the occasional explanation. A lot still depends upon the actors. The director is a facilitator.

I believe this is an accurate description of how the Holy Spirit works. If I am preparing a sermon on a gospel passage I familiarise myself with the passage by reading commentaries upon it. But then I must sit and think what the episode in the life of Jesus means and how I can convey that meaning to others. It is then the Holy Spirit kicks in. He communicates directly to my mind by providing helpful leads, clarifications and advice.

(2) The Holy Modernizer
Jesus said of the Spirit: " ... and he will tell you what is yet to come." v13. The Holy Spirit prepares us both for the future and in the future.

We know what a modernizer is - someone who adapts an old work for a contemporary audience. The scholars who produced the N.I.V. of the Bible were modernises. The English language has evolved since the A.V. was introduced in the 17th century. A new version was needed to accommodate these changes.

Filmmakers have made a habit of producing contemporary adaptations of Shakespeare's plays, Chaucer's tales and Jane Austin's novels. There is a Bollywood version of 'Pride and Prejudice' and an American version of 'Emma'.

The Holy Spirit adapts and applies the teaching and work of Jesus to changing circumstances. We have experienced this in our own lives. The Jesus of our childhood is not the Jesus of our old age. As a child I was impressed by Jesus the miracle worker and storyteller. During my teenage years and early twenties I thought of Jesus almost entirely as my Saviour from sin. In my 30's and 40's I became increasingly interested and challenged by the ethical teaching of Jesus. In later middle age I was increasingly glad of Jesus as my great high priest ever interceding for me. As I enter my 60's Jesus is a precious friend - the one on whom all my hopes rest.

Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever but each age needs to see him slightly differently. This is the ongoing task of the Holy Modernizer. Jesus taught that every teacher should shed new light on the ancient truths. He said: "Every teacher of the law who has been instructed about the Kingdom of heaven is like the owner of a house who brings out of his storeroom new treasures as well as old. Mt13v52. The Holy Spirit does this par excellence.

(3) The Holy Conductor
Jesus said: "He will bring glory to me by taking from what is mine and making it known to you."

This is exactly what a great conductor does. He takes the work of Bach or Mozart and makes it better known to the members of the orchestra and through them to others.

The conductor wants to bring glory to the composer of the music. He wants the composer's work to be heard at its best. To facilitate this he may not have to do much. The orchestra have the music in front of them after all.

Two things are worth emphasising - the conductor is not more important than either the composer or the orchestra.

The Holy Spirit helps every disciple to play his or her part in Christ's great symphony. He presents Jesus in the best possible light, showing him for what he really is and thereby inspiring the players to give of their best. So many have been helped - preachers, teachers, scholars, poets, hymn writers, composers, painters, architects and stone masons. The Holy Conductor has inspired men and women by showing them Jesus - full of grace and truth. He has got a mighty orchestra to perform to the glory of the risen Lord.