Comfort

by Eric S. Love
podcast available: April 17, 2011

    Jesus last night on earth, before crucifixion (John 14, 15, 16):
Last Supper with His disciples
Jesus hints about his coming betrayal (it is obviously on His mind)
He confers on the disciples the Kingdom (Luke 22:28-30)
Recognizing His full authority, Jesus washes the disciples’ feet (including Judas)
Jesus discloses His betrayal and the betrayer, and sends him away to “do what you are about to do quickly” (though the disciples don’t understand)
He begins teaching about Love and the promise of the Holy Spirit (interesting to consider since this is His last opportunity to teach the disciples before He is crucified)
It is interesting to study what Jesus’ last teaching to His disciples was…

The Holy Spirit is our Comforter: Greek word is translated "counselor, intercessor, helper, one who encourages and comforts, advocate" and in the New Testament it refers exclusively to Holy Spirit (and to Jesus). This is the “name” Jesus called the Holy Spirit.

We will look closer at the translation of this word in a minute, but first let’s look at where the word is used. (It is used exclusively in John 14, 15 and 16.)

John 14:16-17:
I will ask the Father, and He will give you ANOTHER Comforter that He may remain with you forever - the Spirit of Truth.

John 14:26-27:
But the Comforter, the Holy Spirit, Whom the Father will send in My name, will teach you all things. He will cause you to recall everything I have told you. Peace I leave with you; My [own] peace I now give to you.

John 15:26-27:
But when the Comforter comes, Whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of Truth Who comes from the Father, He Himself will testify regarding me. But you also will testify and be My witnesses.

John 16: 7, 13:
I am telling you nothing but the truth when I say it is profitable for you that I go away. Because if I do not go away, the Comforter will not come to you... But when He comes, the Spirit of Truth, He will guide you into all Truth.

First, the Holy Spirit is ANOTHER Comforter. Who is the first? Jesus. The Holy Spirit is an even more intimate expression of God’s love for us (Remember, God demonstrates His love for us in this, that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.).

The Holy Spirit is a Comforter the way Jesus is/was a Comforter - only better, really, because He is individually intimate and personal with us. (It is “profitable” for us to have the Holy Spirit here with us.)

Second, He is a gift to us from Jesus and the Father. The Holy Spirit is our direct link with God the Father and Jesus the Son. With the Spirit in us, we can be in the Spirit. In this way, we are in the “heavenlies” with the Father and the Son (see Ephesians). In a literal sense, the Holy Spirit draws us into the Communion of the Trinity. This is important because we need to understand the Father’s drawing us to Himself. That’s one of the functions of the Holy Spirit, which we will see.

Third, the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Truth who “teaches us all things,” “who testifies of Jesus,” and “who causes us to recall all the Jesus has said to us.” The Truth always points us to Jesus - and what did Jesus say He left with us? His very own peace. The Holy Spirit, through Truth, activates the peace of Jesus. This is critical considering that it is through peace that we engage in spiritual warfare.

Look at it this way: Feet shod with the preparation for the gospel of peace, God peaces crushes satan under our feet - that kind of stuff... living in the peace of Jesus is critical to our overcoming the enemy. Note the references to our feet here. It goes back to the curse in the garden: the serpent will “bruise our heel” but we will “crush his head.” This was a literal curse on the serpent creature, apparently, not just the devil, but it is certainly a metaphorical picture of our “enmity” with the enemy. There’s a lot to be said about the peace of God - I’ve said a lot about the peace of God - but for the purpose of this study, it’s enough to recognize the link between the Truth of the Holy Spirit and the Peace of Jesus. This is critical when it comes to us being comforted.

And the last thing to mention here is that just like the Holy Spirit is a “witness” of Jesus - testifying on His behalf - we also are made His witnesses. This is very important, because we become transporters of the Comfort of the Holy Spirit.

Let’s look a little deeper at the word “Comforter.” We’ve seen how it is translated, but let’s look at the two root words from which this one is derived. The first part of the word in Greek is a prefix that means “with, before, beside, along side” and the second part of the word means “to call, bid, name.” Now without being a Greek scholar, as best I can tell those two words put together mean “to call along side.” I think this is an accurate picture of how the Holy Spirit comforts us.

This about all that is said about the Holy Spirit “leading” or “guiding” us. Even in the few verses we read above where He is literally called the Comforter (whose very name here is derived from “calling us along side” of Himself). We know the Trust and live at Peace because we are drawn to stand beside the Lord. (Again, we are caught up into the Heavenlies...)

The “noun” version of this word Comforter is used only in those three chapters. However, the verb form shows up in other places. Let’s take a look.

Matthew 5:4
Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. (Isaiah 61:2)

Luke 16:25 (in Jesus parable about the beggar Lazarus)
... you in your lifetime fully received comforts and delights [good things] and likewise Lazarus bad things; but now he is being comforted here [in paradise in the bosom of Abraham - a symbol of heavenly places], and you are in torment.

In both of these cases, Jesus is speaking. He is talking about a supernatural comforting that comes through the Holy Spirit - which, of course, He hasn’t even sent yet at the time He is speaking this.

There is a kind of comfort that can only happen through a supernatural intervention of the Holy Spirit. There are times in life when no words will comfort. No advice. Not even the truth will seem to settle our hearts. But there is a comfort that extends beyond that - it is a miracle of the Holy Spirit. And one beautiful part of this is how we become carriers of this comfort. We can be comfort for each other - not by what we say but just because we are there, a tangible, physical manifestation of the comfort of the Holy Spirit... and extension of the peace of Jesus, an act of the love of God.

Isn’t that beautiful?

Acts 16:40
And [Paul and Silas] went out of the prison and entered the house of Lydia, and when they saw the brethren, they encouraged [comforted] them and departed.

1 Corinthians 14:31
For you can all prophesy one by one, so that all may learn and all may be exhorted [comforted].

This is the function of the gift of prophecy, remember? To build up the Body. This is supernatural comfort.

2 Corinthians 1:3-5
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort; who comforts us in all our affliction so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance, so also our comfort is abundant through Christ.

God is the God of all comfort. This is the comfort we receive through the Holy Spirit. This is the same comfort we give to others. This comfort is contagious:

2 Corinthians 7:6-7, 13
But God, who comforts the depressed, comforted us by the coming of Titus; and not only by his coming, but also by the comfort with which he was comforted in you... And besides our comfort, we rejoiced even much more for the joy of Titus, because his spirit has been refreshed by you all.

This comfort of the Holy Spirit is progressive. Strength in me leads to strength in you. That leads to strength in those you are with. And so it goes. That’s a beautiful strength of the grace and mercies of God: they gain strength by the passing from one to the next.

So this inner working of the Holy Spirit IN US becomes something we pass between each other. A tangible thing. The word “comfort” used in the above verses, as in the “God of all comfort,” is the same word as the verb and noun we’ve already looked at - at it comes from the same roots. It’s meaning means comfort and encouragement. It’s almost as if it’s a substance. It’s a “thing.” We have it and pass it on - just like a virus.

Acts 9:31
So the church [in its genesis form] throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria enjoyed peace, being built up; and going on in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it continued to increase.

The comfort of the Holy Spirit was critical for the early church and it is still critical for us today.

Eric Love, 4/17/2011