Day26

Jesus Promises the Spirit

from the John reading plan


John 16:1-33, Isaiah 32:14-18, Joel 2:28-29, Romans 8:12-17


Ever since I was a young child, I have been a fan of the fantasy genre. I consumed any and every story that had to do with dwarves and elves. Above all else, I was drawn to the presence of magic in these stories. It was exciting to think about a world that was filled with powerful forces, waiting to be harnessed by the gifted few!

Many Christians I meet today think of the Holy Spirit in the same way they think about the magical forces in fantasy novels. For many, the Spirit is a kind of spiritual energy that Jesus imparts to those who follow Him, empowering them to love and serve beyond their own innate capabilities. However, when we treat the Holy Spirit as an auxiliary power emanating from Jesus, we not only do a disservice to Scripture, but we deprive ourselves of knowing deep companionship with God the Spirit in our daily lives. The Holy Spirit is not a power; He is a person working in our midsts, even as you read this. 

Jesus’s final conversation with His disciples before His death was drawing to an end. His disciples were saddened at the news that Christ would not stay with them forever, but Jesus indicated that His leaving was for their good. “It is for your benefit that I go away, because if I don’t go away the Counselor will not come to you. If I go, I will send Him to you” (John 16:7). 

Why did Jesus have to leave before the Holy Spirit came? At Jesus’s baptism, all three members of the Trinity were present: Jesus in the water, the Father speaking from the heavens, and the Spirit descending like a dove. So why couldn’t the Spirit come and Christ remain? 

The reason, of course, is that when Jesus spoke of “going away,” He was referring to His death on the cross, His resurrection, and His ascension to the right hand of the Father in glory. In this sense, Christ’s “going away” was incredibly beneficial for the disciples and for you and me, because through His death, resurrection, and ascension, we are adopted into the family of God and made citizens of His eternal kingdom! 

So, what is the ministry of the Spirit? The Spirit unleashes the powers of the promised kingdom of God upon the world through Christ’s disciples. The Old Testament prophets spoke about a future time when the Spirit would be poured out upon the earth and turn back the destructive effects of sin (Isaiah 32:15–18). 

This is exactly what God the Spirit is doing right now. As King of heaven and earth, Jesus has sent the Spirit to continue what He started, guiding us in the way of truth, applying the redeeming work of Christ to every part of our life and world. He is not magic. He is our God.

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2 thoughts on "Jesus Promises the Spirit"

  1. Nolan says:

    Several statements from this chapter stood out to me.

    And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: 9 concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; 10 concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; 11 concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.

    20 Truly, truly, I say to you, you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice. You will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy. 21 When a woman is giving birth, she has sorrow because her hour has come, but when she has delivered the baby, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world. 22 So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you.

    33 I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

    Jesus tells his disciples about his impending bodily death, but throughout this passage we see phrases like joy, rejoice, “take heart”, and “the ruler of this world is judged”. Even in the midst of what is a very dark moment, Jesus is teaching about (1) focusing on the long-term plan from God instead of the short-term pain/tribulations and (2) present and future victory over sin/the world/Satan and resulting future and present joy.

    I’m fascinated by some of the verb tenses in this passage and the fact that both present and future tense are used. Jesus isn’t teaching of a joy or victory that is limited to the future. The power of His life, death, resurrection, ascension and future final victory is not bound to limited, specific periods of time. He says “I have overcome the world” and “the ruler of this world is judged”. Present tense. He already has overcome and Satan is already judged.

    We believe that God exists outside of time, so in one sense this feels right and may not be surprising. But I experience time chronologically, so it’s revolutionary and powerful to me!

    1. Nolan says:

      And variations of past tense, it appears!

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