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Teaching from the Upper Room: The Profit of the Lord’s Leaving

Teaching from the Upper Room: The Profit of the Lord’s Leaving

Imagine if the Lord were still moving about like He was during the 40 days between His resurrection and ascension. Wouldn’t it be thrilling? The Lord might appear to you and other believers as you travel down the road, or among you to show you his hands and side, or maybe to talk with you after making a meal. So why didn’t the Lord stay? Is there something better? As we continue on the way from the Upper Room to Gethsemane, we will learn how it’s better that the Lord left us behind on this earth than to stay with us.

John 16:5-15 – The Spirit and His Twofold Work
V5-7 – The Lord’s going and the Spirit’s Coming

The Lord was now leaving. Hearts were full of sorrow and thus the Lord had said these things to His disciples. But on the surface there seems to be a problem with what the Lord says in v5: “None of you ask Me, ‘Where are you going?’” (NKJV). Actually, the disciples already asked this very question twice. Simon Peter asked it in 13:36 – “Lord, where are you going?” (NKJV).  Thomas again asks in 14:5, “Lord, we do not know where you are going, and how do we know the way?” (NKJV). But the manner in which the disciples asked demonstrates that they’re not so concerned about the Lord’s departure, but rather how His absence would affect them. They had never expected the Messiah to come and die and depart! The Lord is pointing out that because they never asked any deep questions about what this departure would mean for Him, they never really asked, “Where are you going?”

Thus in v7 He tells them that His departure is not for their loss, but for their gain. The wrongly held Jewish expectation was that Messiah would come and rule initially on earth. Converse to the disciples’ assumption, it was profitable for them that the Lord leave so that the Comforter [1] would be sent. We are far better off with our Lord in heaven so that  the Spirit of God would be sent into the believer. But what would the Spirit do that could be better than having the Lord here on earth?

V8-11 – The Spirit’s Work toward the World: Prosecution

First, the Lord shows what the Spirit’s work would be toward the world. When the word “world”, or the Greek word ‘kosmos’, is used it can either mean: the created world [2], the world of mankind [3] or the world system. [4] In this context, “the world” is the world system which hates God. When the Spirit of God comes to the believer, said v7, the Spirit will reprove or convict the world. The Lord is not thinking of the individual sinner that the Spirit convicts, but the world as a whole.

The conviction of the world and work toward the world is made up ofthree parts:

  1. Of Sin. V9 says it’s because they “believe not on me.” Sin is present in the world. The fact that the Spirit of God lives in and works through believers today is a demonstration that the world was in error, sinful and continuingin sin by not believing on the Son.

  2. Of Righteousness. V10 says it’s because “I go to the Father and ye see Me no more.” Righteousness is absent in the world. There will only ever be one righteous man, on the grounds of His own merit, to ever walk on earth. He was crucified, “numbered with the transgressors” in the world’s estimation. [5] The Spirit’s comingmeansrighteousness is found in Jesus Christ who is at God’s right hand, being in the assessment of God“Jesus Christ the Righteous.” [6]

  3. Of Judgment. V11 says it’s because “the ruler of this world has been judged.” Judgment of the world is coming. Satan operates in this world which is apart from God. The cross and resurrection is a demonstration that as Satan stands judged, so doesthe world which follows his desires.

These are challenging things practically. The Spirit of God in me and working out of me should convict and demonstrate to the world these three things. Do I live in such a way that allows the Spirit of God to showthatChrist should be believed on, that He is righteous, and that judgment comes upon those that reject Him?

V12-15 – The Spirit’s Work toward the Believer: Revelation

There is much more that the Lord could teach the disciples, but the coming Spirit of God would give them the capacity to understand. His work toward the believer is also threefold:

  1. He will guide you into all truth. The Spirit of Truth would take what He hears and reveal it to you. In early NT days this came through revelation and interpretation. Presently the Spirit of God does this through interpretation alone.

  2. He will show you things to come. The Spirit of Truth would announce future events. This could been seen in events such as Agabus’ prediction of famine, [7] Paul’s safety in Corinth [8], and the Revelation to John on Patmos.

  3. He shall glorify Me. The Spirit of Truth would not come to glorify Himself, but to glorify Christ. Some who claim the activity of the Spirit miss this point. Rather the Spirit of God, like the servant of Abraham who went to Rebekah [9], announces to us the glories of the Son through the Scriptures.

So is it better that the Lord has gone to heaven? It is better for several reasons, but specifically here the Lord explains that the Spirit would be able to do the work that the Master did with the disciples in a fuller way. We need not wish for the Lord to be walking on the earth among us, for not only do we have the Comforter who continues the same work, but we also have the spiritual capacity through the Spirit of God to understand all that God would have us to know and to do. We only need to explore the Scriptures while looking for the guidance of the Spirit of God.

Challenge

Look up these references in John to compare the work of the Lord while on earth with the present work of the Spirit of God: 14:6, 16:12; 14:6, 16:13; 5:19, 16:13; and 15:15, 16:13.


[1] See also John 14:16, 26; 15:26
[2] As Romans 1:20
[3] As John 3:16
[4] See 1 John 2:15-17 for a clear explanation of what the “world system” entails – the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye and the pride of life.
[5] Isaiah 53:12, Mark 15:28
[6] 1 John 2:1
[7] Acts 11:28
[8] Acts 19:9-11
[9] Gen 24:36

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