“But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth” (John 16:13a).
In the movie, A Few Good Men, Jack Nicholson plays a passionate yet deceitful military officer, confronted by an upstart lawyer accusing him of the heinous crime of covering up the chain of command, which leads to murder. During the most iconic scene, Nicholson takes the stand, swears to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help him, God.
When posed with a yes or no answer as to whether he ordered the hazing of a marine, Nicholson gives an impassioned speech, criticising the lawyer and openly questioning those who don’t understand the military’s role. At the end of the monologue, his face full of fury, he iconically states: “You can’t handle the truth”.
There are many times in my life when I feel like that. When the next straw falls on top of the last one, our backs feel broken, and our spirits crushed, I wonder if I can handle the truthful statement that life really isn’t fair.
In our reading today, Jesus, about to be led to Golgotha, describes the unfairness of what will happen to him and the struggle the disciples will encounter afterwards. Knowing that his disciples could be overwhelmed by the entirety of the news of his death (and not listen to the good news following), he tells them, “I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear”.
In other words, I don’t have enough time to ease you into this and to be honest, you couldn’t handle the truth.
Thus, Jesus promises the Spirit of truth, the one who will guide them into all the promises that Jesus has for them. The Spirit of truth, the Advocate, the one who will speak to them and for them, will reveal that there is much more to this life than death and despair, pandemic and pestilence, inflation and unfairness.
There is the resurrection, and the hope; That is the peace of God that surpasses all understanding; That is the truth they can handle.
Heavenly Father, through your Spirit who listens to the Son, please guide me into all the truth of your promises and relieve me from the fears that press in so closely. Amen.