Friday, December 28, 2007

Advantage -- Ours!

Now I am going to him who sent me, and none of you asks me, 'Where are you going?' But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart. 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 go, I will send him to you. ~ John 16:7-8 (English Standard Version)

A couple of posts ago, I gave a brief explanation as to why I make it a habit to use different translations, It has helped me hear and see things that familiarity would keep me deaf and blind to. Look once again at the wording in Jesus' phrase, I [Jesus] tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away. Growing up hearing the King James Version exclusively, I never heard that phrase translated that way. Maybe it is just me, but the old English phraseology, It is expedient for you that I go away, left me with the impression Jesus was saying I know you hate to see me leave, but sorry, it is best for all of us if I get out of here!

But hearing Jesus' words this way, It is to your advantage that I go away, shifts the advantage of Christ's ascension from him to us. Notice he did not say, It is to my advantage that I go away. Although who would have blamed him if he did want to return to heaven for his own personal advantages: no more battles with the pious religionists and Satan, who, with no cause absolutely hated him; re-entrance into heaven where everyone loved and adored and appreciated him; and finally, to return to his Father's presence and reward for what he so dramatically accomplished. Who would have been shocked if with a jubilant smile he pumped his fists and said, I'm out of here! But no, the Advantage was to go to us! Jesus would ascend, so that the Comforter could descend and permanently reside at our soul's address. He would be a continuous help and comfort. With he Spirit's enabling we could decipher spiritual realities in our material world. The Spirit would sovereignly gift men in the Kingdom of Faith, and then give those men as a gift to us in the Kingdom of Faith. Submitted to the Spirit we would be equipped for works of service to one another. The Spirit would guide us to build up and not tear down the Faith (Ephesians 4). The Spirit would empower us to convincingly bring the message of the Good News -- a message that can save anyone who will believe and receive it (Acts 1-3).

I know, I know, we wish Jesus were here in his physical person to answer all of our questions. We wish he were here in person, so we would have his footsteps to follow. How great it would be to literally hear his soothing voice! But if he did all those things -- as hard as it is for us to fully comprehend -- those very things would put us at a disadvantage!

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