Last month I referred to Easter as ‘the most significant event of the year for Christians’ and so it is; the resurrection is the heartbeat of our faith. As the Apostle Paul said to the young church at Corinth … if our hope in Christ is only for this life, we are more to be pitied than anyone in the world. Time and again Jesus said to his disciples that he would die and on the third day rise again but his disciples didn’t understand what he was saying so when he was executed not one of them believed he would rise again. Who can blame them? But rise he did! Another thing he taught them was that when he would leave them to return to heaven he would send the Holy Spirit who would fill them with life … they didn’t understand that either but that’s what he did.
I have recently finished reading a book entitled ‘The Forgotten God’ it is a book on the third person of the Holy Trinity, the Holy Spirit. An interesting title and probably an accurate one as most people I come across have no real concept of who the Holy Spirit is. They have some understanding of God as Father and Jesus as Son … but … The Holy Spirit or Holy Ghost as He was often known as … well that’s another matter! But if Easter is the most significant event in the year then to a Christian the Holy Spirit is the most significant gift they could ever receive. Listen to the words of Jesus to his disciples shortly before his death.
“If you love me, obey my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you. He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth. The world cannot receive him, because it isn’t looking for him and doesn’t recognize him. But you know him, because he lives with you now and later will be in you.
The word translated ‘advocate’ in the passage is from the Greek word Paraclete which literally means one called alongside to help. There isn’t one word in the English language that adequately translates Paraclete so different versions substitute advocate with comforter, encourager or counsellor. The Holy Spirit according to Jesus is all of these things and more!
Lidie H. Edmunds reflecting on this reminds us of a moving incident in the 1996 summer Olympics. ‘As the runners in the 400 meter race flew around the oval track, one of them suddenly pulled up on the back stretch, he had pulled a hamstring! As the crowd stood, holding its collective breath, a man ran out of the stands to the young athlete. It was his father! As the television crew relayed the moving scene to the watching world, the microphones picked up the runner’s words: “Dad, you’ve got to help me across the finish line. I’ve trained all my life for this race.” And so the father put his arm around his son, and together they limped across the finish line to a standing ovation!
I remember it well! Funnily enough I can’t remember who won the race!
This is how Lidie applies that story. ‘In the race of life, God our heavenly Father has come alongside us through the Person of the Holy Spirit. And when we think we can’t go one more step, when the race becomes painful beyond endurance, when our hearts feel heavy, when our minds become dull, when our spirits are burned out, we have the Parakletos, who comes alongside us, puts His everlasting arms around us, and gently walks with us to the finish. The applause you hear is from “the great cloud of witnesses” who rejoice in your victory!”
Some picture! Some God!