"I have much more to say to you..."

I was struck by something this morning…

I was reading in John 16 – Jesus is teaching his disciples about the promise of the Holy Spirit. Into that context he says,

“I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. But when he, the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth.” (16:12-13)

Now, in its original context Jesus is telling the disciples that he has more to teach them, but that they are just not ready for it…that when they are ready, the Holy Spirit will continue his teaching of them.

I don’t know why but I found myself lingering in this verse. And as I did, different things came to the surface…

One: The Holy Spirit is our teacher. If you read on in John 16, in the mystery that is the Trinity, it seems that the Holy Spirit takes from Jesus and teaches us. That’s what happens when we read the Bible…the Spirit takes God’s words and brings them alive in our hearts and minds.

Two: The Holy Spirit “guides us into all truth”. To me, that implies a continuous growing into, and understanding of, the truth. We don’t suddenly “get it”. I think it’s more a question of the truth ‘getting us’. I don’t know if this is a great analogy, but I found myself thinking of a canoe guide. Imagine you’re with a canoe guide on a river. He or she isn’t immediately going to plunge you into the rapids. They’ll start you on a gentle stretch of river, then get into the deeper water, before hitting the rapids. A guide starts off gently and “guides you into” the fullness of what you need to learn and discover.

Three: Jesus knows best. Just as Jesus is telling the disciples they are not ready for everything right then…that they need to wait for the Holy Spirit, I think the same is true for us too. Imagine you became a believer today -  I think Jesus would say to you: “I have much to tell you, but you are not ready for it all at once!” That makes sense doesn’t it? Jesus teaches us, through his Spirit, at a pace and in a way we can handle. He knows us. He knows what we need and when we need it.

And four: Jesus stays involved in our growth. I love how he says to his disciples “you’re not ready for it right now.” Surely the implication is that when we are ready, he will teach them (and us). And how does Jesus know when we’re ready? Because he is involved in our life…he is involved in our ongoing transformation. He knows, because he sees.

Sees what?

I think it might be this. That as Jesus sees us responding to what he is already teaching us, he will teach us more. As Jesus sees us being responsive to his truth, he will give us more truth. And again, I think that makes sense. A teacher doesn’t give a pupil more complicated maths problems until they get the more basic. Once they “see” that they can handle the basics, then they know they are ready for more.  

Our growth…our transformation into Christlikeness is a partnership…we are too “work out” what God is “working in” (Philippians 2:12-13). Peter describes it as “growing up in your salvation” (1 Peter 2:2). And the writer of Hebrews says: “Let us leave behind the elementary teachings about Christ, and go on to maturity…” (6:1). Both Peter and the writer of Hebrews are getting at our responsibility in responding to the truth that God is teaching us.

Folks, my prayer this week is that each one of us would be embracing God’s truth; co-operating with him in all he wants to teach us and how he wants to grow us; working out what he is working in; and preparing ourselves to receive more from God.

Simon Lang