There’s this odd conversation that Jesus has in John 16 in which Jesus encourages the disciples as he talks about the work of the Holy Spirit. What makes this so odd, is what we understand about the life of the disciples for the past three years. They have spent the majority of the last three years hanging out with Jesus. They walked and talked with Jesus, they laughed with Jesus, they cried with Jesus, they partied with Jesus, and got bored with Jesus.
The disciples experience was life with Christ all the time.
They were witnesses to the miracles and the sermons and the conversations. They tasted the wine that started out as water. They got full stomachs after eating the bread that came from a little boys sack lunch. They got to talk to the little girl who was raised from the dead.
And then comes this conversation in John 16 when Jesus is preparing the disciples for what life is going to be like. And Jesus says these words:
But 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 16:5-7
Better Than Jesus
Think about that… “It is to your advantage that I go away.” Can Jesus really say that to the disciples? What’s better than tasting the wine and the bread from the miraculous working of Jesus? What’s better than walking and talking with the Messiah by your side? And add to that the crazy reality that Jesus also promises, “I will be with you always.” That has to throw the disciples for a mental loop.
Nonetheless, what is quite clear in the conversation is that things are going to change. The life the disciples knew with Jesus is not going to be the life they are about to enter into.
And Jesus says that’s good. And things are about to get better.
Jesus is having an Obi-Wan moment. The moment when Obi-Wan says to Vader, “You can’t win Darth. If you strike me down, I will become more powerful than you can possibly imagine.”
This is what Jesus is saying to his disciples. Jesus is letting them know that in being struck down, He will be even more powerful than they have ever been able to imagine. In being struck down, the redemptive work will go even further than they ever dreamed. In being struck down, things will get far better than the past three years.
Because when “it is finished,” the Holy Spirit applies that work of redemption to the world. Because “it is finished,” the Spirit can begin revealing to the disciples what they’ve been so dull to not understand the past three years. Because “it is finished,” the Spirit can be at work empowering ordinary disciples to be ambassadors of this message called the Gospel. In the finished work of Jesus, things do indeed get better than what the disciples experienced. The redemption that was at one time a future reality had now become present reality and the Holy Spirit was promised by Jesus to be the one to bring that message to the world.
When the work of Christ was finished, things were just about to get better than anyone imagined. Does it actually get better than Jesus? Can things actually get better than what the disciples already experienced?
Even better than the miracles and the teachings is the finished work of Christ for the world.