D Andrew Burr
John 14: 15-17
2 Corinthians 5: 1-5
In considering this occasion, I felt, as our brother evidently has as well, that it might be appropriate to say something about the service to us of the Holy Spirit; and He is referred in these two scriptures as Comforter and as Earnest.
The idea of ‘comforter’, as we can see from the note here, is someone who takes charge of all our affairs. It has often been remarked that the Lord Jesus speaks of the Holy Spirit as anotherComforter, from which we understand, as the disciples surely did, that the Spirit was coming to take up an office and a service to them which the Lord Jesus Himself had rendered. And we learn also from John’s epistle that the Holy Spirit has not come instead of the Lord Jesus but as well as the Lord Jesus. John in his first epistle says, “we have a patron with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous”, chap 2: 1. I think it is very touching that there is One who appears for us before the Father, who has been here in all the circumstances through which we pass. He has been to an occasion such as this. He came as a Friend of the family. He entered into their sorrows as if they were His own; they were. It says that Jesus groaned in spirit. John 11: 33 (note). It was not simply that He felt the effect of death upon the friend that had died, but He felt the effect of death upon those who remained. He felt their sorrow; He entered into it. How much further that goes than the idea of an advocate in an ordinary secular sense of the word, to have Someone who is acting for you, who understands all your feelings and can enter into them. I thought it was very powerful when the Lord, in that occasion in John 11, turned to take up His advocate service. He says to the Father, “I knew that thou always hearest me”. What comforting words these would be, beloved, to hear an advocate say that. “I knew that thou always hearest me”, he says, “but on account of the crowd … I have said it, that they may believe”, v 42. What a wonderful thing that is, that we have before us in the Lord Jesus, whether here below or now above, Someone whom the Father always hears, and there is not a sorrow, or pressure, or question, or anything of that kind that we cannot take to Him. We find there the solace, and the comfort, the measure, and the resource and the grace that are needed for however we feel and whatever we face in the circumstances where He once has walked for us.
Then I was thinking, in relation to the Holy Spirit, that Paul says in Romans 8, “we do not know what we should pray for as is fitting”, v 26. There are occasions when we do not know what to pray for. We have such circumstances among us now, when we hardly know what to pray for; but Paul says, “the Spirit itself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered”. I hardly feel that I can add to what the scripture says about this mighty service of advocacy that the Lord Jesus and the Holy Spirit exercise on our behalf in our frailty and weakness here.
In 2 Corinthians 5, Paul is going over the condition in which we are - and we are very much reminded of it at this occasion, the weakness and frailty of the condition, something of which Paul was very conscious. He appeared from his journeys to have been a robust person himself, but he felt the weakness and frailty of the condition in which the Lord’s people were. No doubt he had seen many suffering, and in great weakness and affliction. He uses strong words but they are words that convey his feelings: “if our earthly tabernacle house be destroyed”; think of that! What a sad and sober thing it is to take account of the humiliation and dissolution of the body. But when we come to an occasion like this, there are two very important things we need to remember; and they give a stature to an occasion like this. One is that, in relation to the beloved brother or sister whom we have come to bury, that body was the Lord’s; their body was the Lord’s. All its weakness, all its infirmity, the afflictions that fell upon it, do not take away from the fact that precious blood was given to make that body the Lord’s. And it has also been the temple of the Holy Spirit. There is something holy about the body of a saint. How precious it is to consider such a thing; but then, because it has been a temple of the Holy Spirit, according to this passage, there is something else that we can say about it; and that is that it will be changed - not it may be changed or it is a hope that it might be changed, but the fact that someone has had the Holy Spirit is the earnest that they will also have a body of glory. How glorious that is, beloved. There is humiliation and weakness, there is corruption, there is the loss of vitality; and ultimately, the loss to us of the person themselves, and we feel it greatly; but the fact that that person has had the Holy Spirit is the testimony according to this scripture that it is in God’s plan that that body will be clothed with a house that is from heaven. Then the weakness will be all forgotten and left behind, as that person shines as the Lord’s property in their body of glory.
May we be comforted, beloved brethren, by these things, for His Name’s sake.
19th May 2015