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How is it to our Advantage that Jesus Has Gone Away?
But now I am going 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 . . ."
- John 16:5-7, ESV
Wouldn't it be so amazing to walk and talk with Jesus? I have often thought how wonderful it would be to be the two disciples on the Road to Emmaus, getting an personal, in-depth Bible study lesson from Jesus. How amazing that would be! Yet Jesus told His disciples, "I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away." Why?
Well, He tells them why right away: "for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you." The Helper is the Holy Spirit. He came in power at Pentecost and remains in all believers as our Helper. So, why is it better to have the Holy Spirit than to have Jesus physically present with us?
1. The Holy Spirit is able to convict the world of sin and righteousness and judgment. The Holy Spirit prepares unbelievers for the Gospel by bringing conviction of sin, a desire for true righteousness and a fearful expectation of coming judgment. When people know they are sinners, that they need to be righteous, and that they will be judged, they are ready to receive and rest upon Jesus for salvation. Only the Holy Spirit can do that work inside someone, and He does it in everyone who truly comes to faith in Christ.
2. The Holy Spirit guides us into all truth. Jesus told His disciples that they were not ready to hear some of what He had to tell them. The Holy Spirit made them ready. The Holy Spirit is our patient, faithful, life-long teacher. He leads us into all truth, speaking what the Father and the Son want to reveal to us.
3. The Holy Spirit is able to work internally and universally. When Jesus was hear physically, His teaching ministry was located to audible words spoken to one limited group of people at a time. Even His closest disciples did not understand so much of what they had heard Him say again and again. The Holy Spirit can write God's word on our hearts and can do so all over the world, all at the same time.
It would be wonderful to walk with Jesus. One day, we will be with Him face-to-face. But until we're with Him in glory and sin has been completely removed, the internal guide, conviction and instruction of the Holy Spirit is better for us and for he whole church.
Prayer Based on Psalm 63:
O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek You;
my soul thirsts for You;
my flesh faints for You,
as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.
So I have looked upon You in the sanctuary,
beholding Your power and glory.
Because Your steadfast love is better than life,
my lips will praise You.
So I will bless You as long as I live;
in Your name I will lift up my hands.
My soul will be satisfied with You alone, as with fat and rich food,
and my mouth will praise You with joyful lips,
when I remember You upon my bed,
and meditate on You in the watches of the night;
for You have been my help,
and in the shadow of Your wings I will sing for joy.
My soul clings to You;
Your right hand upholds me.
But those who seek to destroy my life,
Satan and his minions,
shall go down into the depths of hell;
they shall be given over to the power of Your eternal judgment;
condemned forever by Your righteous wrath.
But I will rejoice in You, my God;
all who have sword allegiance to You shall exult when You come to judge!
Come quickly, Lord Jesus! Amen.
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