When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who comes from the Father, he will testify on my behalf. You also are to testify because you have been with me from the beginning.
In the face of the world’s rejection of His Son, the Father does not reject the world. Jesus reveals that the Father will send the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, to empower the disciples to move into the world and testify to Jesus as the way to the Father. The world will mock them, reject them, and kill them, but they will not back down. They will bear witness to God’s enduring love, even to a world hostile to them. They will move out into the world just as Jesus did, without resentment, retaliation, or returning evil for evil. They will absorb the hatred and give back love.
But Jesus says that his friends will not be acting alone as they testify to Him. The Holy Spirit will also “testify” on Jesus’ behalf through their words and actions. As the “Spirit of truth”, He is characterized by truth, and will confront the world with the truth about Jesus. As we testify to Jesus as the way to the Father, the Holy Spirit will speak through us. The Spirit of truth will convince that our testimony is true. The Advocate will advocate for Jesus through us.
Years later the Apostle Paul reminds the Christians in Thessalonica how his testimony to Jesus came to them in the power of the Holy Spirit: “…our message of the gospel came to you not in word only, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction” (I Thessalonians 1:5). The Holy Spirit takes halting, fumbling words about Jesus and makes them powerful and convincing. Only the Spirit can break through the world’s hatred, opening hearts and minds to the truth about Jesus.
Jesus commands His disciples to testify of Him “because you have been with me from the beginning”. They are the ones who have spent time with Jesus and know the reality of His life. They are the ones qualified to testify of Him. While Jesus’ words have initial application to the disciples, they also apply to any who love Jesus. We have come to know Jesus and know the difference He makes in our lives. We don’t have to have all the answers. We simply testify to what we know about Jesus; the Holy Spirit testifies with us that what we say is true.
Bible scholar, William Barclay, sums up what it means for us to be a witness for Jesus:
A witness is not only someone who knows that something is true;
he is someone who is prepared to say that he knows that it is true.
A Christian witness is a man who not only knows
Christ but wants others to know him too.
So let us be bold to testify for Jesus, and rely on the Holy Spirit to testify with us, as we seek to draw others close to the Father’s heart.
What are there in Jesus’ words today to know; to feel; to do?