It is better for you that I go

Do you actually believe you have it “better” than the first disciples?   It’s easy to wish we had been alive when Jesus walked the earth, but he tells us in today’s Gospel (John 16:7) that we are actually better off with him in heaven.

This is another one of those puzzling remarks of Jesus that needs some unpacking. Jesus had just told his friends that he was about to be put to death.   It’s natural to expect fear and grief to overwhelm them.   Not only was their leader about to leave them—apparently without ushering in the kingdom they were waiting for—but their lives could also be in danger.   And yet he tells them that it’s better for them that all of this happen.   How is that possible?

The answer, as in so many other passages, is the Holy Spirit.

When Jesus walked the earth, he was in only one place at a time.   He could say only one thing at a time.   And there were times when he couldn’t say or do anything because he was asleep!

But following his death, resurrection, and ascension, Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to live in his followers, the Spirit who never sleeps nor slumbers.   This Spirit came to help the disciples understand and embrace all that Jesus had done for them.   This Spirit enabled them to travel far and wide carrying the good news with them.   Wherever they went, they prayed for new believers to be filled with that same Holy Spirit.   Then those new believers extended God’s kingdom even farther.   Jesus could not possibly have accomplished all that while still on earth.

Guess what?   The Holy Spirit wasn’t just for the early Church.   He’s in you as well!   He is also at work in your family, your neighborhood, and your workplace.   He’s there to help you understand God’s word in a deeper way.   He’s there to help you listen patiently to someone who is hurting and feels alone.   He’s there to inspire you with a solution for a persistent problem.   He’s there to give you the strength to walk through the problems that have no solution.   And through it all, he is there to help you love Jesus more.

It really is better that Jesus has gone and has sent the Holy Spirit, isn’t it?

Word Among Us

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