AN ADVOCATE is one who pleads for or in behalf of another. He promotes the other person’s best interest, argues his cause, defends him, and helps him.
To us Christians, that is Jesus. God our Father sent him to the world not to condemn us but to save us (John 3:17). By offering himself on the cross, he took the penalty of sin that should have been ours. Now seated at the right hand of the Father in heaven, he intercedes for us. He acts as our mediator to God (1 Timothy 2:5), closing the gap caused by sin and granting us, by grace through faith, the gift of salvation.
In this Sunday’s gospel (John 14:15-21), however, Jesus speaks of ‘another’ Advocate. He said, “I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Advocate to be with you forever” (verse 16). Who was Jesus referring to?
Jesus was referring to the Holy Spirit, the third Person of the Trinity. Jesus, who ascended back to heaven, did not leave us orphans. While he continues to be our Advocate before the throne of the Father, he gave us his Holy Spirit to also be our Advocate – to abide in us and to be in us forever. In our life’s journey, the Holy Spirit will lead us into all the truth. He will teach us all things and remind us of everything that Jesus has taught us (John 14:26). He will convict the world in regard to sin (John 16:8), give life to our mortal bodies, empower us to live holier lives, help us in our weaknesses and intercede for us in prayer (Romans 8). He will shower us with his gifts (1 Corinthians 12) and embolden us to become witnesses for Jesus unto the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8).
It is indeed wonderful to experience the workings of the Holy Spirit in our lives. But how can we do so? In this Sunday’s gospel, Jesus asks us of one thing – “to love him” (verse 15), and to love him is “to keep his commands.” Those who love Jesus will be loved by the Father, and the Lord himself will love them and reveal himself to them (verse 21).
Loving Jesus is not a cheap emotional high. Teaching his disciples, he said, “If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me” (Luke 9:23). Many of Jesus’ commandments are not easy to do at the human level. They require a great deal of self-denial and the symbolic daily carrying of one’s cross. But Christians do not do it alone. The Advocate, who is with them and is in them, helps them live by the Spirit. And those who do so discover life at its fullest.