‘I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own, but will speak whatever he hears, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, because he will take what is mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine. For this reason I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you. (NRSV).
It would seem that even with three years of continuous access to Jesus, the disciples still had more to hear. They did not know it all. In fact, Jesus claims they could not even ‘bear’ more.
These men have grown, but they have not arrived.
Of course, this is no surprise. Through John’s record, the first Jesus-followers have made their mistakes, misunderstood the parables, and asked all their clumsy questions right in front of us. Each moment where they fail to comprehend is written for generations to consider.
Our judgment need not be harsh. After all, these are characteristics of all inquisitive students and good disciples. Theirs is the path of learning another way.
And so even as Jesus prepares for his coming death and resurrection, he is preparing them. In our passage Jesus is advocating their trust in a new representative from heaven. This one, like the Rabbi they already know and love, will be ‘truth’ in both name and direction. The Spirit too will be one who listens carefully to the Father. Like Jesus himself, this Spirit will proclaim ‘whatever he hears’.
It is this Spirit’s privilege to declare the glory of another: Jesus, the Christ.
It reflects so closely what Jesus is doing among them. He too is listening to, speaking about, declaring from, and glorifying someone else: the Father.
What Jesus has done among these few the Spirit will do for a multitude.
There is something comforting about Jesus speaking of the Spirit in this way. This Advocate from the Father will ‘come’ among them in the same way Jesus himself dwelt with them.
This Spirit will take what is of Christ and declare it.
Perhaps the most beautiful part of this passage is the union of the three: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. They speak as one. They listen to each other. They represent one another.
And their aim is the continual unveiling of truth in the life of the follower of Jesus.
Even as John invites us to look back, consider the stories, and trust this one come from God, he is also pointing the reader in the direction of the presence of God in an ongoing way. The life of discipleship is ours as much as theirs.
Jesus is not mere history. Jesus is alive and guiding, through the Spirit, into all the Father dreams for creation.
The doctrine of the Trinity truly has all the potential to be the most unifying force in Christian theology.