It was my first ever Brownie Pack Holiday. Sleeping away from home without my parents was quite the ordeal for little 7 year old me, in fact, I’m not sure it had ever happened before. I didn’t want my mum to go and leave me there. I was trying to be brave but my lip started to quiver and my eyes started to moisten. But of course, it was better for my mum to go. Although in the moment, I would have loved her to take me with her but I would have soon felt left out and upset. It was so much better that I stayed, because I soon forgot my worries and threw myself into the time away. It was for my good that my mum went away.
In the passage we read today, Jesus tells his disciples that He will be leaving them soon. They are filled with grief, sadness and fear at the idea of their beloved leader, mentor and friend leaving them so soon. They’d only had 3 years together, their ministry was thriving. People were being healed, demons cast out, the hungry fed. Surely there was so much yet to do. Why was Jesus leaving so soon?
Jesus says to the disciples: ‘is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you.’ Jesus is going to leave them, but he promises to give them the Advocate, the Spirit of Truth, the Holy Spirit.
It is a beautiful but mind blowing truth that we are better off now than the disciples were when they walked, talked, laughed, ate and served alongside the person of Jesus. They witnessed Jesus perform incredible miracles, they enjoyed intimate times in his presence, they were taught, encouraged and challenged by him face to face. And yet, it was good for them for Jesus to go away. Because they would receive the Holy Spirit.
Is that how it feels for you? I don’t know about you, but I’d leap at the opportunity to see Jesus doing his ministry, to even have a conversation with him, spend time eating a meal with Him. But the reality is, that, with the Holy Spirit dwelling within us, we are even closer to Jesus now than if we were reclining around the dinner table with Him. What a joy, what an incredible truth!
But Jesus doesn’t tell the disciples this to make them feel warm and fuzzy on the inside, rather than grieving for his soon departure. Jesus tells them this to keep them from stumbling. He warns them that they will be thrown out of the synagogue; that there will be a time when people will think that they are doing a service to God by killing them. He warns them that life is not going to be easy, far from it, but he promises them that they will have a Helper.
Jesus also says that the Advocate, the Spirit of Truth, the Holy Spirit sheds light on the lies and deceptions of this world, and reveals that which is true. Jesus says that he will prove the world to be wrong about sin, righteousness and judgment. The Holy Spirit will guide the disciples into truth and He guides us into truth as well. Because ultimately, the Holy Spirit goes out from the Father and speaks only what He receives from the Son.
As we approach Pentecost, let’s take some time now to reflect on this incredible gift of the Holy Spirit. Jesus has ascended, He has returned to the Father and is seated at His right hand. But that does not mean that we are alone. When we face trials and suffering in this life, we are equipped and sustained by the Holy Spirit. When we are clouded by the deceitfulness of the world, the Holy Spirit brings us to the truth. When we feel alone, overwhelmed or hopeless the Holy Spirit gives us comfort and peace. The Holy Spirit equips and empowers us to be Jesus’ hands and feet on this earth. What a privilege! What a joy!
Let’s pray together:
Heavenly Father, thank you for the gift of the Holy Spirit. Thank you that, with the Holy Spirit dwelling in each of us, you are closer to us than we could ever imagine. Thank you that you empower us and equip us to do your work here on earth. Where we have taken this for granted, where we have grown tired or weary, fill us afresh with the wonder and awe at this incredible truth. Fill us again with your Spirit and send us out to do your works.
In Jesus’ name, Amen.