John 16:5-7 But now I go away to Him who sent Me, and none of you asks Me, where are You going? But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart. Nevertheless I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you, but if I depart, I will send Him.
In my opinion this is one of the most stunning passages on the Holy Spirit in the whole of the Bible. It’s nearly unthinkable what Jesus says to His disciples here. As Jesus’ departure from earth is near, He speaks to His disciples about the Father and the Holy Spirit in this chapter and in the previous ones. He is working to establish them in Him in light of a tumultuous season that’s just days away.
Jesus shares with them that the hour of darkness is at hand and He’s about to be taken from them and like any close friends would, they become incredibly sad and despondent. Jesus, knowing how their responding to His initial statements about His departure doesn’t let up, but rather goes further, giving them truth that in due time would change their lives entirely, even though it wouldn’t make much sense in the present. He now says to them that it’s for their advantage that He goes away.
How could God-in-the-flesh leaving you, ever be thought of as an advantage? Jesus is the Master of upside down wisdom and backwards logic and this statement is no exception to His pattern of leading and speaking.
You have to understand that these disciples are deeply connected to Him and have formed a bond with God in a way that they have never done before. All they had seen was dead religion through the Pharisees and Sadducees. Most were washed up in sorts, back doing occupation’s other then full-time ministry. But upon meeting Jesus, they are given a brand new life, which included ministry with a genuine Rabbi and were running hard after Him; now He’s leaving, presumably ending their short 3-year relationship.
When we begin to grapple and wrestle with this passage it starts to give way to powerful truths and great comfort. See, when Jesus was present on the earth He could only be in one place at one time. Jesus in His physical body was restricted to a single location at a specific time and He was unable to change that. But with the outpouring of the Holy Spirit all those geographical boundaries would crumble and God the Holy Spirit would fill the earth, bringing God into all aspects of the human experience.
It’s true that I don’t know very many Christians who live connected to this reality. Being in Pentecostal Circles can often be deceiving when it comes to life in the Holy Spirit. What I have noticed in this circle is that many people speak in tongues and are proud to be Pentecostal/Charismatic. But there seems to be a minimal number of people who actually have a dynamic relationship with Holy Spirit. They have the language but not much relationship. The life of the Spirit in them is not helping them other than salvation. Which is better than no salvation, but this isn’t God’s intent for the Christian experience.
The benefit to Jesus’ leaving is that we would inherit the Spirit who can be in all places at all times. Take time and celebrate that God lives in you and can help you at all times, not only or ever primary when Jesus was on the earth.
Jesus, thank You for this elaborate plan, including your departure and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. In Your absence I am filled with the Person of the Holy Spirit who is always with me and I don’t have to fear being alone. Jesus, I long to be with You one day, but until then I will continue to reach for Holy Spirit, who lives in me and give myself fully to Him. My sadness and loneliness is breaking, because You are with me at all times, not just on certain days and in certain places with Your natural body. Thank You!