WHAT’S A PARACLETE?
“Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper (Paraclete) will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you.” (John 16:7)
That’s an incredible verse when you think about it. Do you understand what Jesus is saying? Think about it from the perspective of the disciples when they first heard it.
By this time, they had been following Jesus for three whole years. They’d left their jobs, their homes, their friends and family . . . they left everything to follow Jesus. Their only job on a day-to-day basis was to follow Him and do whatever He told them to do. He alone gave meaning and purpose to their lives.
Death for Jesus meant orphanhood for the disciples. They had nothing without Him. They were disciples and He was their Master, and you can’t be much of a disciple without a master.
So how could Jesus say that they’d be better off after He left? How could that be true? Sure, it would be great to have the Holy Spirit, but come on . . . this is JESUS we’re talking about! The five-loaves-and-two-fish Jesus. The walk-on-water Jesus. The healing-the-sick, casting-out-demons, raising-the dead Jesus. Could it really be “to your advantage” for Him to go away? How could Jesus say that?
Clearly there’s more here than meets the eye. Jesus must know something that we don’t. What is it about the Holy Spirit that would lead Him to make such a bold claim?
Let’s begin our discovery with a lesson in Greek.
THE PARACLETE: NEVER LEAVE HOME WITHOUT HIM
The word “Helper” in the earlier verse comes from the Greek word “parakletos,” translated from the original Biblical text. From there, we get the little-used English word “paraclete” (PAR-uh-kleet or PAIR-uh-kleet).
What’s a paraclete?
paraclete: an advocate, a helper, aider, assistant; one who pleads another’s cause before a judge, a pleader
The word in Greek literally means “called to one’s side.” A paraclete is someone who’s on your side—someone advocating for you and pleading for you. He’s someone who walks alongside you to assist in whatever way he can.
Imagine you’re driving across the country and you have a paraclete with you, a helper to travel alongside you. What would he do? How would he assist you?
First, he’d check the map and give you the best directions. Then, he’d help you reroute when a road was closed, or if there was traffic, or if you simply missed the exit. If you were looking for a place to stop for food or gas, he’d know exactly where to go and how to get there. And if the road to get the food or gas was undergoing construction, he’d tell you where the potholes were and help you avoid them.
Not bad, huh? That’s a paraclete. And there’s more.
If you got distracted and started driving too fast, he’d remind you of the speed limit and tell you to slow down. And then—assuming you ignored him—he’d plead your case before the officer who pulled you over for speeding. And then—assuming the officer ignored him—your paraclete would find the money to bail you out of jail and book a motel for you to spend the night.
That’s a paraclete! A helper. Someone to guide you, assist you, and plead your case.
And that’s what we have in the Holy Spirit: a divine Paraclete! Someone to guide us when we’re confused. Someone to assist us when we’re overwhelmed. Someone to plead our case when we make mistakes.
That’s what the Holy Spirit is to us. Or rather, that’s WHO the Holy Spirit is to us. He’s a Person—not in the physical sense, but in the same sense that God the Father is a Person, and His Son Jesus Christ is a Person as well. They are Persons in the sense that we can have a relationship with them. The Holy Spirit is also a Person who serves as our Paraclete, our Helper and our Advocate.
Now do you see why He’s so valuable?
Jesus knew that we’d need help on this earthly journey and that we couldn’t do it alone. He knew that we’d need guidance. We’d need instruction. We’d need someone to intercede for us and plead for us and advocate for us. If a journey across the country without a helper would be difficult, how much more difficult would it be to journey through this life without the Divine Paraclete?
“I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper [Paraclete], that He may abide with you forever—the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you. I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you.” (John 14:16-18)
As much as the disciples benefited from living with their Master, the Lord Jesus, they had more to benefit from Him leaving and sending the Holy Spirit, the Paraclete, to them.
And that’s saying quite a bit.