“But I tell you that I am going to do what is best for you. That is why I am going away. The Holy Spirit cannot come to help you until I leave. But after I am gone, I will send the Spirit to you.”
John 16:7, CEV
The disciples are distressed. They are now starting to realize that Jesus is leaving them. In the recesses of their minds they can’t accept this. It makes no sense at all. (After all, we just got started.) They have been with Jesus almost “night and day” for three years. They can’t imagine life without Him present and available.
Jesus starts saying things to help His friends. I am going “to do what is best for you.” With this concise idea Jesus wants His dear ones to understand and accept His decisions. They must accept “this is why I am going away.” He starts to link His absence with the rich goodness of the Holy Spirit. On strictly basic level, the disciples have a reason for anxiety. The disciples are thinking. “He will not be here when I wake up. Jesus has left! I am alone, what will I do?”
We have a tendency to think of the Holy Spirit like a telephone. The dynamic is this–someone calls me from a great distance. When I pick up the ringing phone, that person is still a long way away– but the voice is close. To think this way though, is to think wrongly. We mistakenly think of Him in technological terms. But Jesus is insisting it is a whole lot better than this. He isn’t on the phone– The Spirit is at the door, and He is ringing your doorbell.
“As soon as we see the Lord Jesus on the Cross, we know our sins are forgiven ; and as soon as we see the Lord Jesus on the Throne, we know the Holy Spirit has been poured out upon us.” Watchman Nee
The doctrine of the Holy Spirit is meant to “upset apple-carts” and change the flow of nations. The Holy Spirit is first and foremost personal. He comes and draws in closer than a person could. He fills us, and our spirits and His are mixed in a new way. Was it nice to have Jesus bodily present? Yes. Of course. But it is also awesome to have the Spirit connecting with us in a most spiritually wonderful way.
When Jesus ascends, the Holy Spirit is given the “green light” to come, and deepen the special relationship that the Father now has for us. However, we can still be a little confused. We think that Jesus physically present would be superior to having the Holy Spirit inside of our hearts. And it is easy to think that way. Who hasn’t dreamed of having Jesus sit down with us over a cup of coffee at our dinner table? But, it’s not really “better”– not even slightly so!
As we examine Acts 1-2, we are escorted the the real and very active world of the Holy Spirit. His presence turns these disciples into a “tossed salad” of the Holy Spirit and humanity. What happens can never be undone or reversed. The Holy Spirit has followed Jesus and is now transforming everything. Essentially, we must trust in what God has done, and we should bow our hearts and knees to all the Father has done for us. Please, Spirit, come and help us.
“If the Holy Spirit was withdrawn from the church today, 95 percent of what we do would go on and no one would know the difference. If the Holy Spirit had been withdrawn from the New Testament church, 95 percent of what they did would stop, and everybody would know the difference.” A.W. Tozer
image by He Qi
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