Reflection on John 16.12-15 (Easter 6: Wednesday; Easter Season)

A reflection for Easter 6: Wednesday, 17 May 2023, on John 16.12-15

John 16.12-15

Jesus said to his disciples, ‘I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own, but will speak whatever he hears, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, because he will take what is mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine. For this reason I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.’


Jesus said to his disciples: ‘When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth.’

In the eighteenth chapter of John’s gospel, verse thirty-eight, we read: Pilate asked Jesus, ‘What is truth?’ As a one-time student and teacher of Philosophy I can assure you that this is the sort of question that could leave both the wise and the less-than-wise arguing for hours, and days, and weeks, and months and, yes, years! Simply trying to establish the parameters for such a discussion could take a very long time. If you look up a definition for the word ‘truth’ in an ordinary English language dictionary, you are likely to find a minimum of fifteen different definitions, all of which approach the word from a different angle. In the pre-crucifixion narrative between Pilate and Jesus, we are not presented with any sort of snappy definition for one reason: Jesus himself, as he says in chapter fourteen of John’s gospel, is the Truth. The presence of the Truth, of Jesus, is the most direct and demonstrable answer to Pilate’s question, but neither Pilate nor we find that easy to comprehend.

In today’s reading Jesus makes a great promise: When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth. The Spirit, the Advocate, who will be sent into this world following Jesus’ Ascension will be the Spirit of truth, he will be the One who knows and is the Truth. And, as the Holy Spirit comes among us, he will do so with a great commission: to guide us into all truth. Rather than wasting our time wrestling with the words of earthly philosophers on the subject of truth, we are being challenged to trust in the One who abides in the real Truth, and who seeks to bring us into the closest of communion with himself: the Holy Spirit of God.

The challenge in today’s reading can be stated simply, but it flies in the face of all that we espouse as our daily code of living. We are not being challenged to be silent when we do not understand matters of faith. We are being challenged to ask the questions that give rise to uncertainty and doubt. But … we are also being challenged to ask those questions of the only One who has the answer: the Holy Spirit of God, the One who exists in complete and equal union with our Heavenly Father and his risen, ascended and glorified Son, Jesus Christ.

Let us pray that we might not be tempted to find consolation in the arguments and hypotheses of human thinking. Let us pray that when our hearts and minds are troubled we might listen to the teaching and promptings of the Holy Spirit. Let us pray that we might allow the Spirit, the Advocate, to guide us into all truth