John 16: 4-15 (MsgB)
“I didn’t tell you this earlier because I was with you every day. But now I am on My way to the One who sent Me. Not one of you has asked, ‘Where are you going?’ Instead, the longer I’ve talked, the sadder you’ve become. So let Me say it again, this truth: It’s better for you that I leave. If I don’t leave, the Friend won’t come. But if I go, I’ll send Him to you. When He comes, He’ll expose the error of the godless world’s view of sin, righteousness, and judgment: He’ll show them that their refusal to believe in Me is their basic sin; that righteousness comes from above, where I am with the Father, out of their sight and control; that judgment takes place as the ruler of this godless world is brought to trial and convicted. I still have many things to tell you, but you can’t handle them now. But when the Friend comes, the Spirit of the Truth, He will take you by the hand and guide you into all the truth there is. He won’t draw attention to Himself, but will make sense out of what is about to happen and, indeed, out of all that I have done and said. He will honor Me; He will take from Me and deliver it to you. Everything the Father has is also Mine. That is why I’ve said, ‘He takes from Me and delivers to you.’”
Somehow I don’t think you and I can ever imagine the overwhelming sadness of the 1st century disciples when they kept hearing from Jesus in those final days that He had to go away.
You and I have never lived a day in our lives standing right next to the Incarnate God. No Christian, in fact, after the year 33 AD has ever experienced what these men and women did in the first-century. Even Paul, the great apostle of the first generation, didn’t have this moment in life when the Lord, Himself looked him in his eyes and said, “My dear friend, brace yourself. I’m leaving you now.”
Just imagine for a moment how challenging this transition must have been for these guys and gals. After three years of adjusting your entire life, going from being a self-centered person to one that is now becoming Christ-centered, I can’t comprehend how horrific it must have been to hear from the very One at the center of your new existence that He was choosing to leave you permanently.
I’m guessing that Jesus was spot-on right when He said that He had so much more to tell them, but that they couldn’t bear it at the time. Being in the state of shock that they were in, I’m guessing they barely heard the amazing part about how the Holy Spirit, the Comforter, the Friend, was unable to come to them if Jesus had decided to stay.
Wow! What a statement. What a revelation we get from Jesus here on what must happen once He, the second Person of the Trinity, ascends into heaven, allowing the Holy Spirit to now become the ‘leader’ in His place.
Yet isn’t it interesting that here we are, all these centuries later, and we Christians are still pretty dull about what Jesus said here to His first century friends. While we can forgive them for missing the point because of the shock of sudden separation, what’s our excuse?
Why is it, for example, that we 21st century Christians are still debating over the actual role and involvement of the Holy Spirit in the life and ministry of the church? Why are we so dull in seeing what Jesus had in mind as He was preparing to leave?
Read it again carefully, folks. Who does He say will be in charge after He leaves? His disciples or the Holy Spirit?
Isn’t it intriguing that we Christians somehow think it’s our job, for example, to:
1) expose the error of the godless world’s view of sin, righteousness, and judgment;
2) show people that their refusal to believe in Christ is their basic sin;
3) inform folks that righteousness comes from above, where Jesus is with the Father, out of our sight and control; and
4) tell sinners that judgment takes place as the ruler of this godless world is brought to trial and convicted.
If we read Jesus’ words carefully, these four works surrounding the conviction of sin and salvation are jobs for the Holy Spirit. Not us. Right?
Isn’t it interesting that we, the church, have decided to take these delicate jobs on ourselves instead of allowing the Holy Spirit to tackle these tough issues with the unsaved world?
Maybe if we’d stop trying to be ‘leaders’ of Jesus’ church and allowed the Holy Spirit to lead while we simply follow, Jesus might have a much easier time extending His Kingdom rule and reign to a lost and dying world?
Maybe if we just did our part, which, as I see it, is to literally ‘love the hell’ out of the world around us, giving testimony to the love of Christ, while the Holy Spirit does His job of conviction, we’d see a whole lot more Kingdom fruit out there?
I’m just sayin’, ‘what if?’.
My prayer: Lord, You are very clear here about how the Holy Spirit will become Your replacement as ‘leader’ of the Church that bears Your Name. Forgive me when I overstep the boundaries You so clearly set for us and give me both wisdom and strength to defer to the Spirit for all things done in Your Name. For Your name’s sake.
My questions to ponder: Why is it we assume the role of leader, taking on jobs that Jesus clearly spells out to His first-century friends are responsibilities for the Holy Spirit? How can I better become a ‘leader’ who ‘hears’ all You have to share with me and defers to the ‘leadership’ of the Spirit, leaving Spirit-assigned jobs to Him, while limiting my role to the assignments Jesus clearly gives His disciples?
So what is God speaking to you today? Are you practicing the Kingdom presence of God?
Pastors…plan now to join us for our first SMALL GROUP RETREAT for BUSY, 3-B PASTORS. August 17-18 in Cedar Rapids. Click here for more details.