Servanthood, in the sense of putting the needs of others before one’s own, characterized the ministry of Jesus. We see this displayed in the incarnation, for the Son of God did not consider His equality with the Father something to be exploited at the expense of others; rather, He took on a human nature to meet our need for redemption (Phil. 2:5–11). Moreover, we see Jesus’ servant heart displayed on the night of the Last Supper. Given the ordeal awaiting Him, Jesus could have focused on His own need for strength and comfort. However, He spent His time reassuring the disciples that though He would no longer be with them physically, He was not leaving them alone. He said His departure was for their sake and that He would continue to work in and through them from His throne in heaven (John 14:1–14).
In today’s passage, we read that Jesus also promised that He would send “another Helper” to be with them after His ascension, namely, the “Spirit of truth” (vv. 16–17). He was referring, of course, to the Holy Spirit. There are a couple things we should note about this text. First, consider its relationship to verse 15. If we are not careful, we might think that Jesus was saying that the giving of the Spirit is the consequence of keeping His commandments, that we somehow earn the Spirit by our obedience. However, that is not what Jesus meant. He was speaking of realities of the Christian life, not consequences in a strict sense. In other words, He was saying that believers love God, keep His commandments, and receive the Spirit. In fact, if we are to speak of consequences at all, the giving of the Spirit must come first, for we must be reborn by the Spirit to enter the kingdom of God, and the Spirit gives us the love of God in our hearts (John 3:5; Rom. 5:5).
Second, the Holy Spirit is “another Helper” who is sent after the first Helper (John 14:16). John makes it clear that this first Helper is Jesus Himself, for in 1 John 2:1 he tells us the “advocate with the Father” is “Jesus Christ the Righteous.” The Greek word for “advocate” in 1 John 2:1 is the same word translated as “Helper” in John 14:16. Jesus was the first Helper who, after He ascended, gave us another Helper.
Finally, we note that the Greek word for “Helper” also has legal connotations, referring to something like a defense attorney, and also to one who gives us strength. The Holy Spirit comes to our defense when our hearts condemn us for our sin, reminding us of the truth that Jesus has paid for our sin and that we are accounted righteous before the Father (1 John 3:19–24).