Some of my favourite chapters in the Bible are John 14-16. Here we get an insight into an intimate exchange between Jesus and the disciples in the latter part of his earthly ministry. In preparation for his exit, Jesus tells them about the promise of the Holy Spirit.
In John 16:7, Jesus says it’s good that He goes away, because if He doesn’t go away, the Holy Spirit cannot come.
I find this verse remarkable and I’m sure the disciples did too!
Let’s remember the disciples had seen Jesus do signs and wonders, multiply food, heal the sick, restore sight to the blind and raise the dead. Not only this they had heard with their own ears, the incarnate word of God, bringing truth to life. They’d experienced the wonderful love of God in action and been recipients of it first hand. Yet the verse says, it’s good for Jesus to go away.
Whilst the verse says it’s good, I’m sure the disciples were a bit unsure. Jesus however raises their expectation that his exit is not the end – there is more! By saying, it’s good that He goes away, Jesus is helping the disciples see that the Holy Spirit is not a lesser substitute for the real thing, but He is actually God, just like Jesus and that he would expand even further the purposes of God on earth. What they should expect from a life empowered by the Holy Spirit, is more of the same. More miracles, more healings, and more truth.
If we’re honest, sometimes as Christians we can be guilty of relegating the Holy Spirit to a doctrinal afterthought or a footnote. In practice we have sometimes thought of the Holy Spirit as a force rather than a person, as theoretical rather than something to be experienced ourselves.
A challenge for all of us all, particularly in our changing world, is to continually assess our beliefs, lived experiences and expectations against the word of God. When I do this in respect to the Holy Spirit, I cannot help but be challenged to dig deeper.
In these chapters, Jesus explains what his disciples can expect from a relationship with the Holy Spirit:
- 14:16 – A comforter, to help us and be with us forever
- 14:17 – to live with us, and in us
- 14:26 – to teach and remind us about Jesus
- 14:27 – to be our peace in the face of trouble and fear
- 16:13 – to guide us into all truth
This list is hardly exhaustive, and I haven’t even mentioned the phenomenal ways the Holy Spirit works in the book of Acts. Putting that aside for another day, as I consider this list, I ask myself the question, is this my experience of the Holy Spirit each day? Naturally I find myself at times coming short in my experience of the Holy Spirit, and concluding that there is yet more to discover and embrace. Let me leave you with the same question – is this your experience of the Holy Spirit?
Holy Spirit, I pray today that I would know you in your fullness. Let me not settle for abstract theory, but help me to encounter your comfort, your presence, and your empowerment today. I thank you that you live in me, that you will be with me forever, and that you are my peace in the face of fear.
Location Pastor, Bishop Auckland