The Best Going away Gift
The Best Going-away Gift (John 16:5-11)
The farewell addresses of great leaders always merit intense attention. Those concerns of a leader's last hour with his followers are of greatest importance. This is certainly true of the final words of Jesus Christ. He promised a going-away gift, the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit would continue the Lord Jesus' work in the world and in the church. The Holy Spirit makes Jesus' presence universal and reveals to the lost world its true condition.
The Holy Spirit Makes Jesus' Presence Universal
What could conceivably be better than having the visible companionship and audible instruction of Jesus Christ? The disciples enjoyed that for three years and were shocked with grief at Jesus' announcement of departure (v. 6). Yet it was better for them and is better for us that Jesus returned to the Father out of our sight.
Jesus announces the Gift with solemnity: "I tell you the truth" (v. 7). The One who is Truth emphatically asserts the truth. He reveals and lays bare an incredible anomaly—it is best for Him to go away.
Jesus announces the Gift as an expediency: "It is expedient for you that I go away" (v. 7b). It is not a disaster, but a great benefit and a profitable advantage that the Lord Jesus left planet Earth. The words emphasize the great help for the believer that Jesus of Nazareth goes back to the Father.
This contains the mystery of how God brings good out of evil. The wicked, cynical Caiaphas also said it was "expedient" that Jesus die (John 11:50, KJV). The crucifixion of Christ and the subsequent gift of the Spirit show how God takes the worst man can do and gives back the best.
Jesus announces His departure as a necessity: "If I go not away, the Comforter will not come." For the Holy Spirit to come, Jesus must finish His atonement (Heb. 9:24-26) and return in His risen manhood to the Father. His arrival with the Father would be signaled on earth with the gift of the Spirit. If Jesus had not returned, He would always have been local rather than universal. He would have been in the Holy Land but not Fort Worth. His return and gift make Him as real to us as to the twelve. For that reason we do not even know where the tomb of Jesus is located. He is everywhere, not somewhere!
The Holy Spirit Reveals the World's True Condition
The Holy Spirit relates to both the church (vv. 12-16) and the world. This is the only place in Scripture where the Spirit is said to perform a work in the world. The Spirit "convicts" (v. 8) the unbelieving world. This word comes from the courtroom. It pictures a thorough cross-examination which gives unquestionable proof. The Spirit will expose the world's misunderstanding of the three cardinal relations of God and man: sin, righteousness, and judgment.
Only the Holy Spirit shows us the essence of sin—a refusal to believe on Christ. The world always thinks of sin as breaking law, custom, or ceremony. The crown of all sin is rejection of Christ.
Only the Holy Spirit shows us true righteousness. Jesus' departure and return to the Father sets God's seal on Christ's righteousness. That God received Him back shows that Christ's righteousness received more than human approval. Only the Spirit shows us that we receive righteousness from Christ; we do not achieve righteousness by moral effort.
Only the Holy Spirit demonstrates that Satan has already been judged. The cross was the beginning of the end of His activity (Heb. 2:14). Surely it requires the Spirit to reveal this amidst Satan's obvious power today.
The work and witness of the church in the world is impossible without the Spirit. This is all the more reason to throw ourselves on Him in absolute dependence.