Another like the Other

As the cross came nearer and the hour of his departure was at hand, Jesus promised the disciples that he would ask the Father, and he would send them another [H]elper who would remain with them, and then later, reside in them. It’s interesting the word John uses when he writes another [H]elper. The word in the Greek is ἄλλον / allon. The use of this particular word is important because it signifies that he is talking about another like himself, another of the same kind- Another like the Other! In fact, many theologians will use this word in discussions on the Trinity and the deity of the Holy Spirit. I really don’t want to get into a bunch of academic theology (and you’re glad I know); I just want to use this word to communicate something I think will help us in our daily lives. Walk with me.

Jesus was a Rabbi and taught using tried and true rabbinic methods during his earthly ministry. The rabbis would speak in ways so as to conceal a truth within “surface” words. They would seek to make their disciples dig for the wisdom and truth. They would say things, all the while hoping that their followers would perceive the deeper spiritual lessons they were really trying to communicate. Remember when Jesus said, “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it up on the third day.”? Well, we know that he wasn’t talking about the physical temple that stood at the time. He was talking about his death and resurrection. How about the time he told his disciples, “Watch out for the leaven of the Pharisees.” The guys thought he was mad at them because they had forgotten to bring along bread on their journey. But again, Jesus desired to teach them spiritual truths. What about Philip and the feeding of the 5,000? Jesus asked Philip how they could feed so many when he knew beforehand what he planned to do. And the woman at the well, with whom he spoke of living water? Once more, he was trying to direct her into deeper, spiritual considerations. Jesus was always teaching. Everything he did and said was designed to communicate the heart of the Father. Every situation he exposed the disciples to was designed to teach them. That’s how a rabbi did it. His followers ate with him, slept with him, worked with him, lived with him, and sought to emulate him in every way. Life was the classroom. So, if in the person of the Holy Spirit, Jesus was sending us Another Helper just like himself; why would his teaching methods be any different?

Here’s my point. With the Holy Spirit as your teacher, your whole life is the classroom. So often we complain about this or that, and we fail to realize that each situation we find ourselves in can be another learning opportunity. Our first impulse is to ask God why we are going through a particular thing, when perhaps our question should be what are you trying to teach me. If we come to an understanding that the Father desires to reproduce in us the image of his Son, it will affect the way we respond to life. Now, let’s not get crazy and look for the secret meaning of the two birds that just flew overhead. Chances are, it was just two birds flying overhead. But we should pray that we discern what it is the Holy Spirit is teaching us as we find ourselves in different life scenarios. As a disciple of Jesus, God is at work in you by the presence of his Spirit to bring about that which is pleasing to him and eternally good for you, i.e. , you looking like Jesus! This happens not just by Bible study and prayer, but within the context of your everyday life.

You have received Another just like the Other, just like the Rabbi that taught his disciples in Jerusalem over 2,000 years ago.  Because we are children of God, “God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts,” and he wants to make us like Jesus. Let us walk in the Spirit, and be taught by him. With God’s Spirit as our teacher, may we move past the obvious “knee-jerk” responses to life, and search for the treasures God has hidden within even the most trying of times. Let our prayers be not “Why Lord?” but “What Lord, what are you teaching me?” I pray that you follow so close behind your Rabbi that you are covered with his dust.

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