Jesus' Startling Statement
Jesus made a mind-blowing statement in John 16:7: “Nevertheless I tell you the truth…”
Before we continue with this passage, let me take a moment to paint a picture for you. This is Jesus speaking to His disciples. He has been with these guys for over three years. Everything He has ever said has come to pass. He said, “Wind be still,” and it was still. He said, “You’re going to find a donkey in a certain place” and sure enough, the donkey was there. He knew there was a traitor on his staff before the traitor ever manifested. He told a fig tree to die, and it shriveled up within twenty-four hours. Everything that Jesus said had come to pass, and yet He had to preface this statement with, “Nevertheless I tell you the truth.” Basically, what Jesus was about to say was going to blow His disciples’ minds, so He had to make sure they knew He was telling them the truth.
So what does Jesus go on to say? “Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you” (John 16:7). The New Living Translation reads, “It is best for you that I go away.”
Put yourself in the disciples’ shoes. Your leader, who you know to be the Son of God, has just told you that He needs to leave you—and that His departure is for your benefit. That would sound crazy to me. If He is God, wouldn’t it be most to your benefit for Him to stay? I’m sure the disciples were thinking the same thing. For this exact reason, Jesus prefaced this statement with, “I tell you the truth.”
So why was it best for the disciples and the generations of believers to come—including you and me—that Jesus went away? Consider this. If Jesus never left the earth, then the Holy Spirit would never have come alongside us. If I wanted to receive something from Jesus, I would have to travel many miles just to see Him. My journey would probably begin with a flight to Tel Aviv (which would be the busiest airport in the world). I would then need to rent a car, drive to Galilee, and hope to find some kind of decent accommodation (the hotels would be completely full). Then I’d have to find Jesus. It wouldn’t be hard because millions of people would be waiting to speak with Him. After finding Him, I’d have to wade through the most complex system of lines ever known to mankind, because everyone would want to ask Jesus a question or present Him with a request.
Since there would be such a long line, I would probably be limited to a maximum of sixty seconds with Jesus, so I would definitely need to have my questions or requests ready. And remember, He would need to sleep and eat, so He would have maybe a good fourteen hours per day to give to the masses. At this rate, Jesus would be able to see 840 people a day if he spent 60 seconds with each person. It would therefore take Jesus 1,190 days (3.26 years) to see a million people. But keep in mind that new people would constantly be joining the stream—and what if there were a “fast pass” line for those with really urgent needs and requests? These people would always be going in front of me, right? I think we can surmise that getting to Jesus would be nearly impossible and definitely improbable.
The good news is, the Holy Spirit is always there for us. He doesn’t have to sleep or eat. He can carry on billions of conversations at the same time with billions of different people. When we allow our understanding of the Holy Spirit to be radically transformed by the Word of God, we will begin to understand why Jesus could say, “It is better for you that I go away.”
“Remember, the Holy Spirit is just like Jesus: He teaches like Jesus, He amplifies the things of God like Jesus, and He is here with us! Are you starting to see how amazing He is? Even as I am writing this, the Spirit is opening my eyes to ways I have limited His voice and presence in my life.
What about you? Are you tapping into the reality that the Holy Spirit is always with you and readily available? I encourage you to treat Him as you would treat Jesus if He was with you in person—for they are one and the same. Remember, He is our guide, counselor, protector, and coach! When we live in the reality of His nearness, it changes everything.