Ep.112: Job Description for Jesus’ Replacement.

Hello, I’m Daniel Westfall on the channel “Pray With Me”. 

The second half of John 14 is dominated by news of Jesus’ soon departure and his promise to send the Holy Spirit as an invisible replacement. The disciples found this confusing–they didn’t understand why Jesus was leaving or where he was going or how his replacement would work. In fact, after 2000 years of Bible study and church history, many of Jesus’ disciples are still confused. 

Today, let’s focus on the job description Jesus gave his replacement. In John 14, Jesus said, “The Father will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever–the Spirit of truth” (John 14:16-18).

The job title Jesus assigned his replacement was “paraclete”, which means an advocate, someone who presents your case in court. Today, Jesus might say, “I’ll send a lawyer to help you.” A lawyer? Really? What do you think Jesus meant? Do you need a lawyer to help you with your spiritual life?

First, Jesus said he will send another advocate, someone like himself. One of the most striking things Jesus did for his disciples was advocate for them against the judgmental religious establishment. Jesus knew and understood Old Testament law, he helped the disciples understand scripture without getting tied up in technicalities or being condemned by rigid application of the rules. He promised that his replacement would continue this work, advocating for them instead of using the law to condemn them. When we modern disciples feel condemned by God or scripture or church or family, we need the services of this advocate. 

Jesus qualified the job title “lawyer” in another way. He said the advocate will help them and be with them forever. When I think of a lawyer, I want someone who will pin my enemies to the wall and get the charges against me dropped. Jesus’ didn’t adopt my  narrow and self centered job description. He sends a friend and companion and helper to guide our thinking and decisions, not just a high powered defense lawyer to get us off the hook. 

Jesus also describes his replacement as the “Spirit of truth” (v. 18). A lawyer’s job is not to reveal the truth. Their job is to represent the client and present evidence and argument in court. The prosecution presents evidence and argument for guilt, the defence offers arguments for “not guilty”. The legal counsel or advocate Jesus will send is different. As the Spirit of truth, he knows and exposes the truth of my innocence or guilt, but he also advocates before God for my forgiveness. 

Let’s pray. 

Our father, this person Jesus sends has a complex job description. We receive him in all his roles. 

We receive him as the Spirit of truth, who knows and exposes our secret addictions and obsessions and jealousies and fears. And who also knows our heart to love you and serve you.

We receive him as advocate, who serves us and washes our sin-dirty feet and presents our case to you, asking you to forgive us.

We receive him as lawyer, who specializes in your law. He will help us find in scripture not just the unreachable standard of righteousness, but a way to follow Jesus into a life of holiness and love. 

We receive him as helper and friend, as one who lives within us, sharing our deep secrets, comforting our deep hurts, inviting us to a deeper love of God and people. 


I’m Daniel on the channel “Pray with Me”.

Ep.110: Way, Truth, and Life.

Hello, I’m Daniel Westfall on the channel “Pray With Me”. 

In John 13, after Judas left the Last Supper to betray Jesus, Jesus made two pointed statements: First he said, “I am going away, to a place where you cannot come” (John 13:33) and then he said, “I give you a new command: love one another as I have loved you” (John 13:34). 

Which statement do you think Peter wanted to discuss? How he could love his brothers better? Or where Jesus was going that Peter wasn’t invited? Peter said to Jesus, “I’m your disciple. You can’t go places I won’t follow. I’ll go anywhere with you even if I die doing it.” But Jesus said, “Really? I think by tomorrow morning you will say you don’t even know me.”

Then Jesus said to the disciples, “I’m going away to prepare a place for you. You know where I am going and how to get there.”  Thomas said, “Hold it, we don’t know where you’re going and we don’t know the way to get there.” 

Jesus replied, “I am the way and the truth and the life” (John 14:6). 

What did Jesus mean,“I am the way, the truth and the life?” Did he mean that the truth is available in the scriptures? Did he locate truth in Paul’s doctrinal statements in the New Testament? Or did he really mean he was the way and the truth and the life?

Jesus’ statement addresses three problems the disciples had. We modern followers share these problems. Let’s look at them. 

  1. The first problem is this: Peter was confident he had the commitment and courage to follow Jesus anywhere, any time, into whatever lay ahead. Peter’s path, his way was to go where Jesus was planning to go. Our modern version of the way is to read the New Testament and do what it tells us to do. But at the last supper, Jesus didn’t say to Peter, “Follow me.” He said, “I am the way.” It was not enough for Peter to trace Jesus’ footsteps. It is not enough for us just to do what we’re told. If Jesus himself is the way, we need to participate in him, not just obey his commands. 
  1. Second, Thomas wanted a clear statement of the truth. Just like today we want the right interpretation of scripture and the right doctrinal statement. But Jesus said, “I am the truth.” What Jesus offered Thomas was not an infallible book or a carefully constructed belief system. The truth Jesus offered is himself. He is the truth. To learn the truth, we need to share in Jesus’ life, not just agree with statements he or others made.
  1. Third, the disciples wanted life. Peter said he was prepared even to sacrifice his life to follow Jesus, perhaps hoping for a gift of resurrection like Lazarus recently received. But what Jesus offered him was not a concrete and external gift of something called “life”. Instead, Jesus invited the disciples as he invites us to find life by sharing his life. “I am the life,” he said. “It’s me you’re looking for.” 

Let’s pray. 

Jesus, it is a mystery how you can be the way and the truth and the life for us today. For the way, want a clear map, like Google provides. For the truth, we want a rational and systematic statement of what to believe. For the life we live, we want success and comfort. 

Jesus, we give up our view of how the way and the truth and the life should work. We come instead to you. Share  yourself with us, until you are our only truth, our only way, and all our life.


I’m Daniel on the channel “Pray with Me”.