Jesus as a teacher seems to realize that his disciples aren't quite ready for prime time. Nonetheless, he is aware that his time with them is drawing to a close. In part of his final discourse in John 16, he mildly chides them for not asking the obvious question, and later admits he has much to tell them, but it would be beyond their understanding. Here he promises them the coming of the Holy Spirit after his departure. The Greek word in the text is Paraclete which doesn't translate easily, but it clearly refers to the work of the Holy Spirit.
To discover more about what Jesus might be referring to, we find an excellent presentation in Proverbs 8, a text that Jesus would likely have known. Proverbs 8 is about Sophia, the Greek word for Wisdom. The word is feminine, and indeed we can speak of Lady Wisdom - yes, female!
Proverbs 8 discloses that this is the Holy Spirit who was noted in Genesis 1:2 in the first creation story, the Spirit of God that was "hovering over the waters." The text asserts that Spirit-Wisdom was present with God before the dark, the deep, and the waters. (The painting above seemed perfect for Genesis 1:1-3, yet the artist Danielle Harth seems to have been representing 2 Samuel 22. Nice work, regardless, right?)
Jesus's calling forth the Holy Spirit to be with the disciples indicates how God and the resurrected Jesus will continue to be involved, now in the new creation initiated by Jesus with his promise of new life.
The work of the Holy Spirit guides the church and contemporary followers of Jesus today, keeping the faith from becoming backward looking, stale, or static.
Check out the sermon video below, and the downloads below the video panel.