Absent in the Body, Present by the Spirit
John 16:7
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…

I. THE NEED OF A STRONG ASSERTION. Jesus says, "I tell you the truth." Jesus never says anything but the truth, and yet we can see here clearly what need there was for the most solemn and emphatic mode of statement. For what an antecedent improbability there was that his absence could ever be better than his presence! For him to vanish from the natural sight of his disciples might well be reckoned the greatest of calamities, until actual and abundant experience showed it to be one of the greatest of blessings. Jesus had to make it clear that he meant exactly what he said, nothing else and nothing less. Until we become wiser, it is the natural, the inevitable view that to lose what we can see is a loss never to be made up from some unseen source. Not without reason did these disciples set value on the incarnate life of Jesus.

II. LOOK AT THE ASSERTION IN THE LIGHT OF HISTORICAL CONFIRMATION. It is clear to us, looking at all the facts in their connections, that the departure of Jesus was an advantage to the disciples. If we had been numbered among them we should have said beforehand, "Impossible!" And now looking back on all in the light of history, it is plain that what caused at the time such exquisite grief opened wide the door to joys and blessings unspeakable. It is also plain what a boon the death of Jesus was to himself, delivering him, as it did, from all further exposure to pain of body and grief of heart. But what Jesus would ever have us comprehend is how his departure is distinctly an advantage to his people. He wants us to feel how much better the spiritual is than the natural; how much better it is to have the invisible Jesus doing good to our inner life than the visible Jesus doing good to our outward life. If ever the visible is to be made better, it will be through the invisible. He who made the outside made the inside also, and to get the inside thoroughly pure and strong is the only way to make the outside the same. We are but extending the great principle which Jesus laid before Nicodemus, when we say that flesh can only minister to flesh, spirit only to spirit. Even as the old dispensation was preparatory to the new, so the manifestation of Jesus in the flesh was preparatory to the manifestation of Jesus in the spirit.

III. AS ILLUSTRATION OF HOW THE PLANS OF HEAVEN ARE BETTER THAN THE WISHES OF EARTH. Well was it that Jesus did not leave his disciples to decide. They would all have said, "Stop with us longer;" but who of them could have said how much longer? That would have sent their thoughts in a direction by no means pleasant to follow out. If Jesus must be more to humanity than any one else who ever trod the earth in human form, it can only be by having a different end to his life and a different result of it. Fancy Moses or Elijah (those two names which are so eminently coupled with Jesus) saying that it was expedient for the people they had to do with that they should go away. When we consider what we owe to the Paraclete, when we consider all his deep and abiding ministries, here is a fresh cause of profound thankfulness to Jesus that he accepted the sufferings of death that the Paraclete might come. The Day of Pentecost was not easily achieved; other days had to go before - the day when he sweat as it were great drops of blood, the day when he stood among the soldiers with the thorny crown, and was afterwards nailed to the cross. - Y.

Parallel Verses
KJV: 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.

WEB: Nevertheless I tell you the truth: It is to your advantage that I go away, for if I don't go away, the Counselor won't come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you.

The Absorbing Power of Sorrow
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