2nd June 2011

Do You Have To Go?

“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 16:7 (NIV)

How often has someone said to you ‘It’s only for your good’, when they are about to do something you know you won’t like. From ‘eat your vegetables’ to ‘you have to go into this care home’. Parents, teachers, politicians, and bureaucrats are on to us with a plethora of do’s and don’ts, regulations, restrictions and red tape—ostensibly for our good.

And in the Upper Room at the Last Supper, here was Jesus saying it too: ‘It’s for your good that I go away’. But he’d only just arrived. Throughout the history of the world God had hardly been seen. It’s true God walked in the Garden of Eden, but how long ago was that? Then when he finally came to us, he lived most of his life undercover and unknown, as just Mary’s son, the carpenter from Nazareth. It was only for a brief few years he was out in the open, revealing himself for who he was—Immanuel, God with us, and now he said he was going and it’s all for our benefit.

Within a few hours of telling the apostles about his departure, Jesus was to cry out on the cross, “It is finished” (John 19:30). His work on earth would be done, as bone of our bone and flesh of our flesh. He told the disciples that the world would see him no more: the resurrection and the ascension would be seen by the disciples only. He told them he was not going to leave them bereft, and on a spring Pentecost day in Jerusalem the gathered group of disciples would understand just what he had been talking about, as they were filled by the Spirit.

Jesus’ life and death were not complete without his resurrection, and the resurrection was not complete without his ascension. For our good, Jesus left the restrictions of the physical world and the limitations of time and space. Now, through the gift and power of the Spirit, the ascended, glorified Lord can be personally near to us, in every time and every place. Truly for our good, Jesus had to go, so all of us can say with Paul: “Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20, KJV).

And to that we can pray: Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honour and glory for ever and ever. (1 Timothy 1:17 KJV)

Study by Hilary Buck 

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