Coming Alongside by Lenny Cacchio

“The Message” is a modern semi-translation, semi-paraphrase of the Bible. I neither endorse it nor condemn it because it is like most Bible versions – a sincere attempt by fallible human beings to present the words of scripture in understandable English.

One passage from “The Message” nails a concept in a way found lacking in most translations. “All praise to the God and Father of our Master, Jesus the Messiah! Father of all mercy! God of all healing counsel! He comes alongside us when we go through hard times, and before you know it, He brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us.” (II Corinthians 1:3-4, The Message)

The phrases “comes alongside” and “brings us alongside” do special justice to the meaning of the Greek words from which they are translated. They are derivatives of the Greek word “parakletos”, a word Jesus used to describe the Holy Spirit in John 14.

The word and its derivatives are sometimes translated “comforter”, “advocate”, “consolation”, and “encouragement”. In noun form its literal meaning is “one called alongside”. While “comforter” and “advocate” catch excellent nuances (the Holy Spirit does comfort and does advocate for us), The Message points out that the Holy Spirit also “comes alongside” us in times of need even as Aaron and Hur came alongside Moses to hold up his hands when he could no longer hold them up himself.

Just as God has sent a “parakletos” to us in the form of the Holy Spirit, II Corinthians 1 tells us that we ourselves need to be “parakletos”. If there is one thing that can be said about the Holy Spirit, it is an active spirit. The Scriptures begin with the Holy Spirit moving across the face of the waters and ends with the Holy Spirit flowing as living water for all who desire a drink. In between it is depicted rumbling as an earthquake, blowing as wind, flowing as water, consuming as fire, and power as coming from on high.

As the Spirit is always on the move, so the Spirit needs to flow through us that we might be a comforter, an advocate, a counselor, an encourager. We are the ones to come alongside others in times of need.

Someone once told me that the word “parakletos” painted a unique word picture for sailors of the ancient world, one that would not have been lost on the fisherman among in Jesus entourage. When a ship became disabled because of wreck or disrepair, another ship would be dispatched to come alongside the first one and accompany the disabled vessel to safe harbor. The second ship was called a “parakletos”! Remember that word picture when someone you know is in need of safe harbor.

Lenny Cacchio

Excerpted from The Sabbath Morning Companion, June 02, 2006, by Lenny Cacchio. 
All rights reserved.

 


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