John 16:7, Matthew 28:20
Our Bible reading today is from John Chapter 16 beginning with verse 7. And Jesus says to his believers
I tell you the truth. It is for your good that I am going away; unless I go away, the counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. (John 16:7)
Years ago I remember thinking to myself why didn’t Jesus just stay here on Earth? Wouldn’t that have made everything so much easier? Wouldn’t it have made it easier to convince people that he was this risen Savior? Wouldn’t it have been easier for our own faith to be strengthened? But Jesus tells us in this reading that it’s really to our advantage it’s to the advantage of the believer in him that he has gone away.
And the reason is so that he could send now the third person of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit, to come and work among us and to be our comforter and our counselor. I’m just going to read you a little paragraph from a man named Paul Kretzmann.
We Christians of the present time have more benefit from the work of the comforter the Holy Ghost than the disciples had of the personal visible presence of the Lord when He lived among them in the form of a servant.
Before Jesus ascended into heaven, he said to his disciples
Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. (Matthew 28:20)
So Jesus is still working among us and present among us. He says to those who preach about him. He who hears you hears me. He says to those who worship where two or three are gathered in my name. There are my in the midst of them. He tells us he’s present with us in baptism and in the Lord’s Supper. Now we might look at these things and think well that’s not very exciting. Those aren’t very glamorous ways and yet God tells us he commands us that this is how he is present and working among us in the world.
Back in the Old Testament there was a a man who served in the Syrian Army named Naaman. And he had leprosy and he was sent to God’s prophet Elisha and Elisha gave him God’s command that he should go wash in the Jordan River seven times. The Jordan River was kind of a shallow dirty river. And Naaman and thought this was ridiculous, but his servant finally talked him into it. And when he did go and bathe in the river he was cured of his leprosy.
When God has given his command, even something that might not seem to make sense to us, we should listen and obey it because this is how God promises to go about his work among us. Someday when we get to heaven by his grace we’re going to look back on these very lowly things that God used: baptism, the Lord’s Supper, hearing His Word, and realize what a tremendous blessing and gift they were to keep us with Christ so we could come to heaven. Amen.