John: Unless I Go, the Advocate Will Not Come

Read John 16:4-15

In the previous post, we made a special note about the timing of the message. Jesus waited until the time was right to tell the Eleven this important revelation. The disciples have to know something significant is going on. We don’t have such caveats elsewhere.

I have told you this, so that when their time comes you will remember that I warned you about them. John 16:4

“Their time” refers to those who will absolutely oppose what the disciples are doing. Have no doubt guys, there are extremely difficult times to come in your near future.

As a retired military guy, I can recall similar words of assurance as we sent squadrons into battle during Operation Desert Storm. We didn’t know how it was going to turn out. The threat of chemical warfare made everyone very tense. One of the things the military does as you line up to board the aircraft is a legal check: make sure your will is updated. We literally have attorneys available because we don’t know who is coming back. This is the feeling I get when I imagine Jesus talking to His disciples. Somber and yet assured.

Jesus continues to offer words of assurance:

I did not tell you this from the beginning because I was with you, but now I am going to him who sent me. John 16:4-5

Essentially, Jesus, the commander is telling them: You’re about to go into a battle where I will not be present in this physical form. Back to the military reference, we train and equip soldiers, sailors, and airmen for battle, but the burden is on the shoulders of the few who actually engage in the fight.

Jesus asks a rhetorical question as He anticipates their thoughts. Their concern is not so much about where He is going, they trust Him completely. The problem that Jesus is addressing is their heavy hearts. He knows they’re troubled. For the last 1,000 days they’ve been doing ministry together, now He’s leaving. This is difficult on many levels.

None of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’ 6 Rather, you are filled with grief because I have said these things. 7 But very truly I tell you, it is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you.  John 16:5-7

I have to imagine that they struggled with the notion that it was better for them to have the Advocate rather than Jesus in person. I’m with the disciples! I’d rather have Jesus standing in front of me any day! Or would I? Am I so selfish that I want to position Jesus in the middle of my little world? Well, the truthful answer is definitely yes, I want to have Him to myself, my “personal” Lord and savior. It takes some incredible maturity and faith to accept what Jesus is saying here. He has to go away to allow the Holy Spirit to complete His mission.

This is all new information for the disciples and it’s new information for many people we meet in our daily walk. When the Holy Spirit comes, they will be equipped beyond their wildest imagination, but read this carefully:

8 When he comes, he will prove the world to be in the wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment: 9 about sin, because people do not believe in me; 10 about righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer; 11 and about judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned. John 16:8-10

He is not coming to comfort you so much as paint a bullseye on your chest. From this point forward, we stand in the crosshairs of the world because we will have the dubious honor of exposing sin, righteousness, and judgment. Fellas, it’s about to get real here. Don’t expect a warm welcome to the synagogue in the future. When we talk about sin in God’s eyes, they won’t get it, yet that is what we must do.

Once we receive the Spirit, our eyes are opened to the truth that most cannot see or believe. The world will do its best to convince us otherwise. Perhaps it’s done a good job up to this point. If we buy into what the world is selling, it’s time to change our way of thinking.

Jesus recognizes their minds are full of questions and overburdened with thoughts. Perhaps their eyes are beginning to glaze over as they think about the endless possibilities.

12 “I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. 13 But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. 14 He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you. 15 All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will receive from me what he will make known to you.” John 16:12-15

Whew! That’s enough to process for one conversation, but I know Jesus hasn’t finished yet. John continues writing words of remembrance, carefully crafted words of assurance. I hope you’ll take some time and let these words challenge you personally while ministering to you fully.

Jesus knows about the battle that lies ahead. Rest assured the outcome is what He wants if we will lean on Him and trust Him completely. This is for my benefit, to be sure, but I’m already in the family. My focus is on those who find this difficult to believe and who have not been able to grasp the truth presented here. It helps to know the Advocate resides in me and those who have been adopted. The offer is on the table. Not my words or my guarantee: His.


Thoughts about serving others

This link includes a list of posts about Serving the Least, the Lost, and the Lonely.

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Let the Word evoke words. May your life encourage lives.

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