And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever;
The "and" shows us that these words are a consequence of some preceding steps. The ladder that has its summit in heaven has for its rungs, first, "believe"; second, "love"; third, "obey." And thus the context carries us from the very basis of the Christian life up into its highest reward. And there is another very striking link. There are, if I may so say, two telephones across the abyss that separates the ascended Christ and us. One is, "If ye ask anything in My name I will do it"; the other, "If ye keep My commandments I will ask." Love on this side of the great cleft sets love on the other side of it in motion in a two-fold fashion. If we ask, He does; if we do, He asks.
I. THE PRAYING CHRIST AND THE GIVING FATHER.
1. "I Will ask and He will give" seems a strange drop from the lofty claims in the earlier verses. The voice that spake the perfect revelation of God lowers its tones into petition. Now apparently diverse views lying so close together cannot have seemed contradictory to the utterer, and there is no explanation which does justice to these two sides of Christ's consciousness, except that He is God manifest in the flesh, who prays in His Manhood and hears prayer in His Divinity. The bare humanistic view which emphasizes such utterances as these of my text does not know what to do with the other ones.
2. His intercession is the great hope of the Christian heart. The High Priest passes within the veil, bearing in His hand the offering, and by reason of that offering, and of His powerful presence before the mercy seat, all the spiritual gifts which redeem and regenerate and sanctify humanity are forever coming forth. Note —
(1) Christ's quiet assumption that all through the ages He knows, at the moment of their being done, His servants' deeds.
(2) He puts the Father's act in pledge to us, and assures us that His prayer brings ever its answer. "Father! I will that they whom Thou hast given Me be with Me." How far beyond the warrantable language of man! And how impossible for a fisherman of Bethsaida to imagine that strange blending of submission and of authority which speaks in such words.
(3) That which puts in motion Christ's intercessory activity is the obedience of a Christian man. If you obey He will pray, and the Father will send. So the reward of imperfect obedience is the larger measure given to us of that Divine Spirit by whose indwelling obedience becomes possible, and self-surrender a joy and a power.
II. THE ABIDING GIFT.
1. "Comforter" means not only One who administers sweet whispers of consolation. We have to look not merely for a vague influence, but a Divine Person who will be by our side on condition of our faith, love, and obedience, to be our Strength in all weakness, our Peace in all trouble, our Wisdom, Guide, Comforter and Cherisher, Righteousness, the Victor over our temptations, and the Companion and Sweetener of our solitude? The metaphors with which Scripture represents this great personal Influence are full of instruction and beauty. He comes as "The Fire," which melts, warms, cleanses, quickens; as the "rushing, mighty Wind," which hears health upon its wings, and sometimes breathes gently as an infant's breath, and sometimes sweeps with irresistible power; as the "Oil," gently flowing, lubricating, making every joint supple, nourishing; as the "Water of Life," refreshing, vitalizing, quickening all growth. He comes fluttering down as the Dove of God, the bird of peace that will brood upon our hearts. He is the Spirit of holiness, truth, wisdom, power, love, a sound mind, sonship, supplication, etc.
2. And this Strengthener and Advocate is to replace Christ and to carry on His work. "Another Comforter." All that that handful of men found of sweetness and shelter and assured guidance, and stay for their weakness, and companionship for their solitude, and a breast on which to rest their heads, and love in which to bathe their hearts, all these this Divine Spirit will be to each of us if we will.
3. This strong continuation of Christ's presence will be a permanent companion. He was comforting the disciples who were trembling at the thought of His departure. Here is the abiding Guest, that nothing but your own sin will ever cast out from your hearts.
4. And Christ tells us how this great Spirit will do His work. He is the "Spirit of Truth," not as if He brought new truth. To suppose that opens the door to all manner of fanaticism, but the truth, the revelation of which is all summed and finished in the person and work of Jesus Christ, is the weapon by which the Divine Spirit works all His conquests, the staff on which He makes us lean and be strong.
III. THE BLIND WORLD. There is a tone of deep sadness in Christ's words. A savage stares at the sunshine and sees nothing. And worldly men, who are bound by this visible diurnal round, lack the organ that enables them to see that Divine Spirit moving round about them. Whether you have put your eyes out by fleshly lusts, or by intellectual self-sufficiency and conceit, you are stone blind to all the best realities of the universe; and if you look out upon the history of the Church, or upon the present condition of Christendom, and say, "I see no Divine Spirit working there"; well, then, the only thing that is to be said to you is, "Go to an oculist, your sight is bad. Perhaps there is solid land, as some of us see it, where you see only mist."
IV. THE RECIPIENT DISCIPLES. Observe that the order of clauses is reversed. The world cannot receive, because it does not know. The disciple knows, because He receives. Possession and knowledge reciprocally interchange places, and may be regarded as cause and effect of one another. At bottom they are one and the same thing, Knowledge is possession, and possession is the only knowledge. "He dwelleth with you now, and He shall be in you" hereafter. There is a better form of possession opening before them, which came at Pentecost, and has lasted ever since.
(A. Maclaren, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever;