Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come to you…
John 16:7. The expediency of Christ's departure. We shall elucidate the truths of the text by the following remarks.
I. THAT THE MISSION OF THE HOLY SPIRIT WAS ESSENTIAL TO THE GREAT PLAN OF REDEMPTION. "The Comforter will not come," implying that his coming was essential to the carrying on of the good work in them and through them.
1. As the Divine Revealer. Christ revealed the Father; the Spirit was to reveal Christ. This revelation involves:
(1) Inward light. The illumination of the soul, the mind, the intellect, the heart, and conscience.
(2) Outward light. The great truths concerning Jesus and all the facts of redemption, would be presented in a new and clearer light by the ministry of the spirit.
(3) Inward application, He not only sheds fresh light upon the great facts of redemption, but specially and directly applies them to the soul. As the Spirit of truth, capable of inspiring and influencing directly the springs of action and choice, he is specially adapted for this inward application without which the revelation is incomplete.
2. As the Divine Regenerator. The Creator of the new life, the new heart, the new man, and the new world, and the Builder of the spiritual temple. This new creation is an essential part of the plan of redemption, and is the department of the Holy Spirit.
3. As the Divine Sanctifier. Carrying on the good work gradually unto perfection.
4. As the Divine Comforter. As such he is introduced by our Lord. This was their special need, as well as the special need of all believers in all ages.
II. THAT THE DEPARTURE OF JESUS WAS ESSENTIAL TO THE COMING OF THE HOLY SPIRIT. "If I go not away," etc.
1. His departure was essential to the completion of his own work and the fulfillment of his mission. He could say with propriety, "If I go not away, I cannot finish the work given me to do." This involved:
(1) A perfect atonement for sin. It is true the atonement was begun in his life; for "he is the Atonement;" but completed by his voluntary and self-sacrificing death, and it was through death he was to depart and by death complete the atonement.
(2) His perfect example.
(3) His perfect and glorified life. Only in consequence of his departure by death these were attainable. He was made perfect through sufferings.
2. The completion of his work was essential to the coming of the Holy Spirit. "If I go not away, the Comforter," etc.
(1) The Holy Spirit could not come without a complete commission. In all the Divine proceedings there is perfect order. There is nothing done at random or by accident, but all according to the strictest laws of order and fitness. When Christ came, he came with a complete commission, in the fullness of time, and in the fullness of his Father's love. The Spirit could only come in the same way.
(2) He could not obtain his full commission until the triumphant arrival of Jesus at home. Then iris commission would be complete in the completed work of Christ. Its conditions were then fulfilled and its substance then perfect, ready for use.
(3) The departure of Jesus was not only essential in relation to the commission of the Spirit, but also in relation to the disciples themselves. The remaining of Christ with them in the flesh was incompatible with the full enjoyment of the Spirit. He had to ascend on high, not only to receive the gift of the Spirit, but also to make room for him in their heart and faith. In a sense there was no room for both at the same time.
3. The completion of his work would result in the certain coming of the Spirit. "If I go away, I will send," etc. This certainty lies:
(1) In the finished work and glorified life of Christ. This deserved and even demanded the coming of the Spirit. The latter is the natural result of the former.
(2) In his personal and official influence with the Holy Spirit. This was the result of their oneness of nature, sympathy, will, and work. He was fully conscious of the Spirit's readiness to come at his request.
(3) In the unerring fidelity of the Divine promises. The promise of the Father to Jesus and that of Jesus to his disciples: "I will send him," etc. He could not forget his promise, nor fail to send him. The struggles and agonies of the past would remind him, the infinite price paid and the importance of his coming would remind him, the tender and eternal love he bore them would make him careful to send him. They had the earnest when he breathed upon them. Let him go away, and the Spirit would come in his Divine fullness.
III. THAT THE MINISTRY OF THE HOLY SPIRIT WOULD BE MORE BENEFICIAL TO THE DISCIPLES AND ALL BELIEVERS THAN THE PERSONAL MINISTRY OF JESUS. "It is expedient," etc.
1. The personal ministry of Jesus was local; that of the Spirit is universal. Christ could not be personally present in more than one place at the same time; the Spirit can be everywhere.
2. The personal ministry of Christ was outward; that of the Spirit is inward. Christ appealed, with words and voice, to man through his physical senses; but the ministry of the Spirit is inward, appealing directly to the human heart, will, and conscience.
3. The personal ministry of Christ had a tendency to keep alive and foster the material and temporal ideas of his reign; that of the Spirit had a direct tendency to foster and establish spiritual ideas of his kingdom. While he remained with his disciples, they tenaciously clung to the idea of a temporal king and a temporal kingdom, and this idea would last as long as his personal presence; but his departure by death, had a direct tendency to destroy this notion and blast this hope for ever, and prepare them for the advent of the Holy Spirit, who would, on the ruins of the temporal kingdom, establish a spiritual one, a kingdom of God within. So that to the advent of the Spirit, in consequence of the personal departure of Jesus, they were indebted for true notions of the nature of his kingdom.
4. The personal ministry of Jesus was essentially temporary; that of the Spirit is permanent. He came only for a time, and under human conditions was subject to persecutions and death, and would ever be so, therefore his ministry could only be temporary; but the Spirit came to remain with and in his people for ever, and was personally above any physical injury from the wicked world. Christ, like the Baptist, was only a temporary herald in the world. As soon as his mission was fulfilled, he disappeared; but the Spirit is a settled Minister, and his charge he will never relinquish.
5. Christ, by the Holy Spirit, was more really and efficiently present with his disciples than he would be by his continual personal presence. So that he went away in order to come nearer to them, and come in a higher and diviner form; not in weakness, but in power; not in shame, but in glory; not in the shadow of death, but in the halo of a" Divine and glorified life;" not in the flesh, but in the Spirit; not outside, but within them; so that his departure resulted to them in more of Christ and the ministry of the Spirit as well.
6. By the Spirit, not only he could be more to them, but they also could be more to him and to his purposes of grace. More to themselves in the progress and development of their spiritual nature and character. More to the human family in their conversion and progress in holiness. With Christ's ministry of reconciliation, his perfect example, the inspiration of his devoted life, and self-sacrificing and atoning death, with the indwelling and accompanying influences of the Spirit, they could do infinitely more for Christ than if he were alone to remain personally with them. This was demonstratively proved after Pentecost. They were better missionaries, better heralds of the gospel of peace, and more heroic and enduring soldiers of the cross. In fact, in this way alone Christ could fulfill his purposes in them, and through them in the world.
1. All the teaching of Jesus to his disciples was absolutely true. "I tell you the truth." He never told a falsehood; he was incapable of this. He knew the truth, so that he could not mistake. He was true - the Truth, so that he would not deceive. It would be as easy for darkness to proceed from light as for falsehood to proceed from him who is the Truth.
2. He told them the truth, although he knew it to be at the time most unpalatable. "Nevertheless," etc. This truth concerning iris departure was so. Nothing could be more distasteful to their feelings and sentiments. Still he told them. He was most tenderly careful of their feelings. Still these were not the chief regulators of his revelations.
3. Some truths which at the time are most unpalatable prove at the end most beneficial and joyous when fully understood and realized. The departure of Jesus was such. It filled, at the moment, their heart with sorrow, but filled it afterwards with spiritual joy.
4. Christ, in all his sayings, deeds, and movements, was ever actuated by the supreme good of his disciples. "It is expedient for you," etc. Not what was best or most convenient for him, but what would best serve their spiritual interest and that of the world. - B.T.
Parallel VersesKJV: Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you.