There’s a memorable sentence in a Shannon L. Adler book: “Carve your name on hearts, not tombstones. A legacy is etched into the minds of others ….”
This is certainly the kind of legacy that Jesus left for his friends and followers. In John’s gospel, Jesus makes his farewell (14-17) to them in a passage which is part comfort for the dark days to come (“Let not your heart be troubled”), and part legacy (“It’s good for you that I go, so that He may come to you”). He is leaving them, yes, but he is not leaving them friendless and helpless. “He” is coming as a replacement: “Another” will take the place of Jesus and that Someone is one of the main themes of the whole narrative.
The name of the Someone is “The Paraclete” (in Greek). It means something like Lawyer (or Comforter, Counsellor, Advocate). Imagine if you are called up on a charge and you are ignorant of the processes of Law and you don’t understand what’s going on. In the midst of your confusion and fear, the court appoints a lawyer to speak for you, to defend you and to present your case. You can trust him. He is there for you. The Greek word is a compound of para and kaleo. Kaleo means called and para means alongside. The Paraclete/ Lawyer is someone summoned to stand beside you and work for you.
And remember that he is “Another Paraclete.” Jesus himself was the first Lawyer/Counsellor (John 14:16), and he will send the disciples “another” Counsellor after he is gone, the Holy Spirit (14:26; 15:26; 16:5).
And he is described as “the Spirit of Truth.” This is what lawyers do, theoretically: they tease out the truth and establish it before the judge. The Holy Spirit will operate “within” the followers of Jesus (John 7:38; cf. 14:17), and will guide them into all truth (16:13), teaching them “all things” and bringing them “to remembrance of all that [Jesus] said” to them (14:26).The Holy Spirit will testify about Jesus, as the disciples must also testify (John 15:26-27).
So according to these passages, the Holy Spirit living within the disciples would take the place of the Saviour living beside the disciples. Jesus had spent three unforgettable years with these guys. He had touched their lives at the deepest level. Ray Bradbury (in Fahrenhit 451) once compared gardeners with mere grass cutters. He said “ The difference between the man who just cuts lawns and a real gardener is in the touching… The lawn-cutter might just as well not have been there at all; the gardener will be there a lifetime.”
This is something of the reality of Jesus’ presence in their lives. Not merely trimming them into shape but nurturing their spirits. A lifetime of love and passion had been distilled into three short years. In Chapter he even describes the father’s work as that of a vinedresser, pruning and nurturing.
But don’t miss the big point here: The legacy is personal.
So is the Holy Spirit a “He” or an “it”? Some would see it as just a theological quibble, but there are implications from your choice of answer. An IT implies a force, a power like electricity, or a flood of water. We may even say “Empower me!” “Fill me up!” But a PERSON implies a relationship. In Ephesians 4, Paul was encouraging a group of young Christians to watch their conversation: “Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. And grieve not the Holy Spirit of God…” “Grieve not! The Amplified Bible opens the verb out a little: “Do not offend or vex or sadden” the Holy Spirit.
Clearly, if the Holy Spirit is merely to be understood as a force, then “it” cannot be vexed, offended or saddened, right? But what about all those references to being “filled” with the Spirit? How can I be filled with a person?
Well, anyone who has been in love will know. When you are in love, you are truly filled with another person. And the very last thing on your mind would be to vex, sadden or offend them. The legacy of Jesus is simply that ongoing love-affair. It fills your life with a passion for God.
But passion without purpose is like a shot without a target. The legacy of the Holy Spirit is purposeful.
The purpose of a life filled with the Holy Spirit is developed in Jesus’ legacy speech. He will guide them into all truth (16:13). Like a good lawyer, he guides and directs. He comforts in difficult situations. He teaches, enlightens and reminds us of what Jesus said (14:26). He helps us to pray. He gives us assurance of our salvation. And day by day, he nudges our life-choices into those that Jesus made. He calls us to live the Jesus way.
And across the New Testament, there’s much more clarification of the purpose of the Holy Spirit in our lives:
1) He convicts the world of sin, righteousness, and of judgment.John 16:8-11 “And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: of sin, because they do not believe in Me; of righteousness, because I go to My Father and you see Me no more; of judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.”
2) He transforms us in the sight of God. 1 Corinthians 6:11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.
3) He helps us to remember the word of God. John 14:26 “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.”
4) He helps us to lead a godly life. Galatians 5:22-23 “But the fruit (evidence) of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.”
5) He gives us spiritual gifts for the building-up of believers. 1 Corinthians 12:4-7 There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all: 1 Corinthians 14:12 Even so you, since you are zealous for spiritual gifts, let it be for the edification of the church that you seek to excel.
6) He is our guarantee of eternal life with God. 2 Corinthians 1:21-22 “Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and has anointed us is God, who also has sealed us and given us the Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.” Ephesians 1:13-14 “In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.”
And the Holy Spirit is powerful.
The legacy that Jesus committed to his followers is a powerful resource. He empowers us to be witnesses for our Lord Jesus Christ. According to John 15:26 “But when the Helper comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify of Me.“
And the familiar passage in Acts 1:8 “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.“
This is exemplified in Acts 4:33 “And with great power the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And great grace was upon them all.”
Paul spoke fluently of the power of God the Spirit upon Paul the man: 1 Corinthians 2:4-5 “And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.”
This is your legacy. It’s not tied up in legal wrangles like a contested will. You are the beneficiary right now. You have power of attorney over the whole estate. A last word from Paul: “If we are children, then we are heirs–heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ.”
It’s just for you to sign, and to receive.