Christ’s Astonishing Statement
“It is better for you that I leave,” Jesus told His followers (see John 16:7). What a seemingly ridiculous, asinine statement! After watching Him raise the dead, heal lepers, walk on water, calm raging storms with His words, deliver the insane, pay taxes with fish-delivered money - the list seems endless - can you imagine the shock of the disciples at such a statement?
Of course, Jesus was forever shocking them with His words and actions. They probably thought, with surprise and astonishment, “There He goes again!” I can almost see the disciples waiting until He looked away and then rolling their eyes at one another.
A short time before, Christ had mentioned going to prepare dwelling places for them in the presence of the Father. “But then again, you know where I’m going,” He stated rather matter of factly (John 4:4, Sheets’ paraphrase).
“We don’t have the slightest idea where you’re going” (Sheets’ paraphrase of John 14:5), Thomas finally had the brass to say. Thank God for Thomas! If he could express his frustration at some of God’s words and ways, so can we. (And occasionally I do!)
Peter also vented his frustration, at times. On one occasion, he had finally heard enough confusing words about Jesus dying and decided He needed a good rebuke (Matthew 16:22-23). Unlike Thomas, Peter did NOT get away with it. “Get behind me, satan,” Jesus said. I suppose the lesson learned is: plead ignorance with God, even disagree, just don’t rebuke Him.
I’m certain that Christ’s declaration in John 16:7 that His leaving would be advantageous for them was more than simply confusing, however. It was one thing for the disciples to see and hear things beyond their comprehension. But when Jesus started talking about leaving them, I’m sure that began pushing a few panic buttons. How could His leaving possibly be advantageous for them? He was God incarnate, Immanuel, for heaven’s sake. The answer lies in two understandings.
The first has to do with a more complete meaning of the word Christ used. The Greek word translated “advantage” is sumphero, which literally means “to bring together. (1) It is translated as such because the bringing together of necessary things or people is advantageous to an endeavor. Christ was saying, in essence, “My leaving will result in a new connection for you, a joining, which will be of tremendous benefit to you, an even greater benefit than My actually being present with you.”
The second fact that made Christ’s statement true was regarding just who he was going to connect them with…the One with whom the new connection would be. Jesus was, of course, speaking of Holy Spirit. “I will bring you together with Holy Spirit. This will be even more advantageous than having Me here with you in the flesh. The bodily limitation of My being in only one place at a time will not exist with Him. And not only will He be with all of you at the same time, He’ll be in you. You will become His body - His hands, feet, and mouth! He’ll touch through you, move through you and speak through you.”
I’m not sure any of us have fully grasped the ramifications of this. But Jesus was absolutely serious when He said, “It’s to your advantage that I leave.” Consider the following facts regarding the greatness of God:
“The God dwelling within you made our solar system. Our galaxy contains hundreds of billions of stars. But the Milky Way is but one of a trillion galaxies in the universe. There are 20 galaxies in our group. The nearest cluster of galaxies, Virgo, is 50 million light years away. (A light year is the distance light travels in a year.) Astronomers estimate the distance across the universe is 40 billion light years, and contains 100 billion trillion stars!” (2)
The Creator of all this dwells in you! What could we be and do with a greater revelation of this fact?
Listen to two leading Christian voices describe the work of Holy Spirit in their lives. Jack Hayford, one of the great church fathers of the last 60-plus years, says:
“It is the Spirit who keeps the Word alive, and progressively being “incarnated” in me.
It is the Spirit who infuses prayer and praise with passion and begets vital faith for the supernatural.
It is the Spirit who teaches and instructs me so that the “mirror” of the Word shines Jesus in and crowds sin out.
It is the Spirit who brings gifts and giftedness for power-ministry to my life.
It is the Spirit who will bring love, graciousness, and a spirit of unity to my heart; so that I not only love the lost and want to see people brought to Christ, but I love all other Christians and refuse to become an instrument of injury to Christ’s body - the Church.” (3)
So powerful! The late Bill Bright, founder of Campus Crusade for Christ, states this about Holy Spirit:
“He guides us (John 16:13), empowers us (Micah 3:8), makes us holy (Romans 8:16), comforts us (John 14:16-26), and gives us joy (Romans 14:17).
As our teacher of spiritual truths, Holy Spirit illuminates our minds with insights into the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:12-13) and reveals to us the hidden things of God (Isaiah 40:13-14).
As you are filled with Holy Spirit, the Bible becomes alive, prayer becomes vital, your witness becomes effective, and obedience becomes a joy. Then, as a result of your obedience in these areas, your faith grows, and you become more mature in your spiritual life.” (4)
Great stuff! Holy Spirit is all of this and more. The single greatest key to success in any Christian endeavor is allowing the full work of Holy Spirit in and through us. This is true for our personal growth and development, and it is certainly true concerning all ministry, including prayer. In spite of this, He is largely ignored and taken for granted.
Pray with me:
Father, we are in awe of Your incredible plan. From the beginning of creation Your intent was to indwell humans. We were to be more than angels or animals; we were to be Your family members - filled with, led, and empowered by Holy Spirit. Though this was temporarily lost, Jesus restored the plan. May the revelation of this truth come alive in the Ekklesia.
Release revelation of just how incredible it is to be filled with Holy Spirit. Awaken the church to this profound truth, so much so that we are continually reminded to draw on His wisdom, counsel, power and knowledge. He is our advantage! He gives us the upper hand! Teach us to partner with Him - He is all that we need.
And Father, we recall the prophetic words regarding the month of July being significant for our nation. We pray that our words become “battering rams,” used by angels against evil strongholds of Baal in our government, just as You showed Tim Sheets in a dream. We release this to occur, through the authority given to us by our Head, Christ Jesus. We declare that July is a month of breakthrough and that the summer months are months of tremendous Holy Spirit release. We do all of this in the name of Jesus. Amen.
We decree that we will become more aware of our great advantage, Holy Spirit.
Click on the link below to watch the full video.
Today’s post was taken from my book Watchman Prayer.
Dutch Sheets, Watchman Prayer (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Publishing Group, 2008), pp 133-137.
Spiros Zodhiates, Hebrew-Greek Key Study Bible - New American Standard, rev. Ed. (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 1990), p. 4851.
Paraphrased from: Craig Brian Larson, Choice Contemporary Stories and Illustratios for Preachers, Teachers, and Writers (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1998), p. 54.
Robert Heidler, Experiencing the Spirit (Ventura, CA: Regal Books, 1998), p. 35, citing Bill Bright.