Jesus, after revealing to His disciples a promise of persecution, takes another moment to bolster their faith. First He has told them that He?s leaving and we know that He speaks of His death?so how does He strengthen them? Does He explain the mystery of His resurrected body and the way that it will function? Does He explain how heaven looks like or the fact that death will no longer have a sting? It?s probably the way any of us would do it?but Jesus instead underscores the benefit of his leaving and what it means to the future.
It?s a cold night on our walk to Gethsemane. Behind us, nearly forgotten is the warm upper room where Jesus had just washed the disciple?s feet, had broken bread and had taken the cup. Presently Jesus looks at the eleven and wonders how none of them have really asked him where He?s going.
We know that Thomas had asked where Jesus was going and the way to get there?but then Jesus had to realign his thinking. Presently the disciples are focused on impending persecution (Jn 16:1-4) and they are deeply troubled by His words (Jn 16:6). He has waited till now to give them a more-full explanation of things to come because He had no need to do so before now?He was still with them (Jn 16:4). In this discussion He?s not planning to tell them everything because their hearts couldn?t take it (Jn 16:12) so instead He focuses on the question that none of them had bothered to ask (Jn 16:5).
?It is to your benefit that I go away. If I don?t go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you.? (Jn 16:7) This Helper is coming into the world in a way He has never come before and with a message He never had before. This message will carry with it a work that the Holy Spirit has never done before.
The Spirit is to convict the world concerning sin because of its unbelief, concerning righteousness because Christ goes to the Father and because of judgment for the ruler of this world is judged (Jn 16:7-11). Without Christ?s earthly ministry and Christ?s rejection culminating in crucifixion there would be no message for the Helper to convict the world of. Without the resurrection there is no message of the resultant danger of unbelief.
The message? Christ came into the world, proclaimed the Kingdom, was rejected and suffered and, according to the Scriptures, and hung on a tree as a condemned and cursed man. Yet, the Father did not allow His holy one to see corruption?decomposition miraculously stopped. Instead, on the third day Jesus was raised from the dead, victorious and was seen by the women, by Peter, then the twelve, and the five hundred, then James and to all the apostles (1 Cor 15:5-7) and was lifted up into heaven, caught up into a cloud (Acts 1:19). As He ascended up on high to sit at the right hand of the Father until His enemies are made His footstool (Heb 10:12-13) He gave gifts to men (Eph 4:8-10). The Spirit, the gift-bearer, would then guide the disciples in all truth, not speaking of His own initiative but speaking of what He hears disclosing what is to come (Jn 16:13).
What is to come? Jesus? words ring in our ear at the importance of the sending of this Helper when we witness the outpouring during Pentecost. Disciples speaking in tongues and prophesying while onlookers wonder at how Galileans can be heard speaking in the language of Parthians or Medes or others (Acts 2:6-11).
Peter stands among the brethren pointing out how these people are not drunk on wine for it?s only nine a.m (Acts 2:12-15). But rather this is the first part of the promise of the impending judgment?for in that day your sons and daughters will see visions and your old men will dream dreams. On my servants, both men and women, I will in those days pour forth my Spirit (Acts 2:16-21). The Holy Spirit, by His presence within men, proving and convicting the hearers of the fact that they did not believe Jesus the Nazarene for they crucified Him (Acts 2:22-23); that God raised Jesus up again as promised (Acts 2:24-32); and that Jesus now waits the day where He, as both Lord and Christ will judge the world (Acts 2:34-36).
The importance of the resurrection is then not only as a comfort?although it is that. Not only is the resurrection a solidifying of our hope that we also will put on the incorruptible (1 Cor 15:53-54). This resurrection and subsequent outpouring of the Holy Spirit proves that the first phase of judgment has been implemented setting the groundwork of the Lord?s coming again (Joel 2).
Don?t you hear it? Creation groaning with our spirit within us, awaiting the day of reconciliation (Rom 8:20-23)? This judgment is a Good Thing because the Lord is coming to set the balance straight! So much so that the Psalmist tells the earth to shout joyfully to the Lord, the rivers to clap and the mountains to sing for joy before the Lord, for He is coming to judge the earth and He will judge the world with righteousness and the peoples with equity (Ps 98:4-9).
These disciples would soon not-see Jesus and then see Him again. Currently they grieved but soon their tears would turn to rejoicing, and such a joy that no one could remove, no matter the persecution, no matter the argumentation. When they are to make petition of the Father they will no longer have to ask the Son to pray for them but they would personally pray with the Lord?s authority and the Father will answer because He loves them (Jn 16:26,27). And although they would soon be scattered (Jn 16:32) they are to take courage, just as we are, for Christ has overcome the world (Jn 16:33) and the fact of His Holy Spirit sent speaks of His imminent return in power.
As a believer, I find that my own conscience is pricked. What am I doing in light of this impending judgment? What are you doing? Do we keep this hoarded to ourselves while we know that the judgment has nothing impeding its coming? Look at Peter and those disciples that the second the third person of the Trinity tore into history in a way He has never done before, He stood up and warned the masses of what was coming. ?Today is the day of salvation? is the message that we are to preach and with fervency and a sense of imminence!