But now I am going to the one who sent me, and not one of you asks me, “Where are you going?” But because I told you this, grief has filled your hearts. But I tell you the truth, it is better for you that I go. For if I do not go, the Advocate will not come to you.
This morning I opened my bible to this scripture. It was bookmarked like I had visited it recently, but for the life of me I cannot remember reading this section in John in the last few months. My eyes went right to Chapter 16 and this verse.
What are you telling me this morning God?
As I reflected on the scripture I realized that Jesus was departing from the disciples for heaven. He knew they would grieve at the loss of their friend, but he also knew the importance of his departure. You see, Jesus knew that as long as he was physically present to the disciples, they would rely on Him. In order for their faith to be fully recognized, they must live it without His physical presence. After His departure, He gives them the gift of the Holy Spirit (or Advocate) within their hearts. The Holy Spirit will guide them. They will begin to do things in the name of Jesus through the Holy Spirit.
It made me think. Was the Holy Spirit always present and they disciples just never felt the need to tap into it? This week has been a tough one for me. I have really been calling on Jesus a lot for strength and peace of mind. Moving is demanding and stressful if I let it overtake my life. So each morning I have found myself saying, “Please let me get through this day without a judgmental mind and without “losing it” with my family.” If Jesus were in human form on earth today, trust me I would be calling him on the phone constantly. I might even stalk him on facebook. If He were here for me to speak to, I would lean on Him for help this week. Can you imagine if you could just call up your friend Jesus for the perfect advice, for the perfect solution, for the perfect friendship? I would have Him over ALL the time.
“Oh Jesus, I know you can help me here. I need a little peace of mind during this time in my life. Could you just offer me a little insight or hope?”
If Jesus were in human form, He would give me immediate gratification from my sorrows and pain. Right? How would that increase my faith? Not much. In fact, my guess is my faith would be stagnant because I would never be the one accomplishing the task, Jesus would. I would never sacrifice, Jesus would. I would never find the ultimate gift of trust in a God with no face. I would have the face right in front of me.
Sometimes God calls us to get our hands dirty. That dirt increases our faith in Him, because he calls us to do things that are “out-of the-box” or things that make us squirm from fear or worry. He calls us when we are unworthy and incapable of accomplishing a task on our own. He makes us worthy. If Jesus were present, we would just pass the duty on to Him. After all, He will accomplish it perfectly, we won’t. The chance of me doing something that might push my limits would be next to none.
I have been trying to lose a few pounds after the Holidays. I would venture to guess that many of you are too. If I could use my daughter’s work-out regime to help me lose weight, then I would lose my pounds in a week! Can you imagine it? My daughter runs almost every day. If I had the option to just usurp all those calories she burned and place them in my body, you betcha I would. That is how we would rely on Jesus if he were present in human form. If something complicated came up and Jesus was around, then we would have Him do the task. It is only natural to pick the best person for the job.
When we have to rely on the Holy Spirit within ourselves, all of the sudden the work must be done by us. We have to rely and trust that Jesus is listening to our prayers and go out on a limb to get the job done. Sometimes that trust requires us to be patient and listen to Jesus talk to us. We need to stay watchful because He may speak through others to get to us. He may talk to us at church through our pastor. We have to stay on our toes and keep our relationship going with the unseen person in our life. It takes work. It takes trust. Mostly, it takes faith.
Back to the disciples that evening that Jesus left them. I am sure they were sad and a little scared of what was to be found ahead. Their minds must have been racing. “What are we going to do? Who will perform all those miracles, surely not us? How will we keep our faith alive? Will people believe us without the presence of Jesus?” Questions must have filled the room. Whether the questions were spoken or unspoken, Jesus heard them. What Jesus recognized was that in order to equip these men to do His work, Jesus needed to leave. They needed to see their gifts without His human presence. Once they started to rely on the Holy Spirit, they would become aware of these gifts and use them completely.
Wow. The plan was perfect. Still today, this concept is true. We must maintain our relationship with Jesus in order to keep our faith. Keeping in touch with an invisible man is tough! Reaching beyond ourselves and allowing Jesus to work within us takes work and trust. In my mind, it is one of my favorite gifts that He gave me. I have learned patience, trust, unconditional love and faith because he chose to leave. Thank you Jesus for an amazing gift, and thank you for leaving the Holy Spirit to fill the void.