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 authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you. – John 16:12-15 ESV
These verses are part of what has come to be known as the Upper Room Discourse. This was Jesus’ final teaching to His disciples prior to His betrayal, arrest, trials and crucifixion. It can be considered His farewell address. In it, Jesus attempted to prepare His disciples for what lie ahead for them after His death, resurrection and ascension. One of the most significant points of emphasis was the promise of the Holy Spirit. Jesus wanted His followers to know that, even though He would be leaving them and returning to His Father’s side, He would not be leaving them alone. He would send another “comforter.” The Son of God would send the Spirit of God to live in them, not just dwell among them. And, as a result, their time of instruction would continue.
Jesus describes the Spirit as the “Spirit of truth.” As the Spirit of God, He would manifest the same character as God. “God is not man, that he should lie, or a son of man, that he should change his mind. Has he said, and will he not do it? Or has he spoken, and will he not fulfill it?” (Numbers 23:19 ESV). God is a god of truth. So is His Son and Jesus emphasizes that the Spirit will be no different. After His coming He would lead the disciples into all truth. In other words, there were things they did not yet know or understand. Jesus even told them, “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.” Their capacity to comprehend the truth of Jesus’ mission was limited by their own flesh. They were having a hard time understanding how Jesus’ death was going to turn out for their good. But when the Spirit came and took up residence within them, they would receive a divine enablement to put the pieces together and see the bigger picture of God’s divine plan of redemption.
The Spirit would take all that Jesus had taught them and not only help them recall His words but understand their meaning. Jesus had just told the disciples that “I have not spoken on my own authority, but the Father who sent me has himself given me a commandment—what to say and what to speak” (John 12:49 ESV). Jesus spoke on behalf of God. He spoke the truth of God, regarding man, sin, salvation, and the age to come. The Holy Spirit would do the same thing. Jesus said, “he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.” The disciples were going to get a big picture view of all that was going to happen. During the time they had spent with Jesus, their perspective had been limited by their somewhat self-centered view of life. They had been looking for an earthly Messiah who would lead the Jewish people in revolt against their Roman oppressors and set up His kingdom on earth. They had not been looking at Jesus’ coming from an eternal perspective, but a temporal one. With Jesus’ departure and the Holy Spirit’s arrival, they would begin to understand that there was much more to Jesus’ incarnation than they had ever suspected. They would see that the kingdom of which Jesus taught was far greater and more significant than they ever dreamed.
Probably one of the most significant points Jesus made about the Holy Spirit was His selflessness. The Holy Spirit exists to glorify the Son. His ministry is completely Christ-centered. From His residence inside the believer, the Holy Spirit persistently points them to Christ, explaining the significance of His sacrificial death on the cross in their place and transforming them into His very likeness. He takes what belongs to Christ – His redemptive work, His perfect righteousness, His commandments, His promises and His future return and reign – and makes them known to His followers. The Holy Spirit within us glorifies Jesus by giving us a greater appreciation for what He has done for us and a deeper desire to share the good news of His salvation to others. As the Spirit of God works in our lives, we become increasingly more like the Son of God, producing spiritual fruit and bringing glory to the one who made it all possible. Our ability to live Christ-like lives is made possible by the Spirit’s presence within us. But He doesn’t get the glory, Christ does. Because Christ is the one who paid the debt we owed and satisfied the righteous wrath of God with His own life. And while our fruitfulness is a result of the Spirit’s presence and Christ’s sacrifice on the cross, it ultimately brings glory to God. Jesus said, “By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples” (John 15:8 ESV).
We have within us a spiritual tutor or teacher who enables us to understand the deeper things of Jesus. We have the capacity to grow in our understanding of who He was and what He has done. We can comprehend His teachings and see them as far more than moral lessons on life. We have a divinely enabled ability to expand our understanding of Jesus far beyond our initial acceptance of His as Savior. Peter says we are to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18 ESV). As we grow in our knowledge of Jesus as our Lord and Savior, He is glorified within us. He becomes of increasingly greater importance to us.