As Jesus spent His last evening before His arrest with His disciples, He promised that He would send a Counselor to them once He was gone. The Spirit of Christ would come into their hearts and give them guidance and power to continue on the work of the Kingdom. This is what Jesus said:
“When the Counselor comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father, He will testify about Me. And you also must testify, for you have been with Me from the beginning.’’
If we stop and think about it, this is a pretty amazing gift. The Spirit of God Himself will empower those who put their faith in Jesus to proclaim the Good News of Christ’s salvation. It is an honor beyond imagination.
And yet…the gift of being the bearers of the Spirit in the world of the Curse would have consequences. The people of darkness and the demonic forces that entrapped them would be hostile to the people of Light. Jesus wanted His disciples to be ready, so that when it happened, they would understand what was going on when the tensions rose high and they were being persecuted. He said:
“‘All of this I have told you so that you will not go astray. They will put you out of the synagogue; in fact, a time is coming when anyone who kills you will think he is offering service to God. They will do such things because they have not known the Father or Me. I have told you this so that when the time comes you will remember that I warned you. I did not tell you this at first because I was with you.’”
Imagine the disciples as they listened to Jesus. The things He was telling them were very different from how they had imagined their future. Just an hour or so before, they were arguing about which one of them would be the greatest. Now they were learning that the future held no immediate glory for them. Their role as the proclaimers of Jesus Christ was going to mean a life of challenge, opposition, and suffering. Through the power and guidance of the Spirit, the disciples would give bold testimony in the face of beatings, imprisonment, and death.
As the disciples learned the cost of following their Master, they were also beginning to realize that they would have to follow Him through all of it, even when they could not see Him. Jesus said:
“‘Now I am going to Him who sent Me, yet none of you asks Me, “Where are you going?” Because I have said these things, you are filled with grief. But 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. When He comes, He will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment: in regard to sin, because men do not believe in Me; in regard to righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see Me no longer; and in regard to judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned.’”
“‘I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. But when He, the Spirit of Truth, comes, He will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on His own; He will speak only what He hears, and He will tell you what its yet to come. He will bring glory to Me by taking from what is Mine and making it known to you. All that belongs to the Father is Mine. That is why I said the Spirit will take from what is Mine and make it known to you.’”
“‘In a little while you will see Me no more, and then after a little while you will see Me.’”
This must have been confusing for the disciples. There are many things packed into these paragraphs: Jesus would go away, He would send the Spirit, the Spirit that would convict nonbelievers and believers of their sin, yet somehow, after going, a little while later, Jesus was going to come back…and soon. What did it all mean?
The disciples didn’t understand Jesus, so they began to whisper back and forth. Then Jesus said:
“‘Are you asking one another what I meant when I said, “In a little while you will see Me no more, and then after a little while you will see Me?” I tell you the truth, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will be turned to joy. A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world. So with you: now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy. In that day you will no longer ask Me anything. I tell you the truth, My Father will give you whatever you ask in My name. Until now you have not asked for anything in My name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.’”
We can see here that Jesus was talking about His death and resurrection. How compassionate He was for the pain His men would feel at His death. He knew how greatly they would mourn Him…but here He gave them hope if they could grasp it. After that terrible day when He would give up His life, a day of everlasting joy would come. It would bring a whole new era for the human race, where the disciples of Jesus would have an entirely new kind of relationship with God. Jesus went on:
“‘Though I have been speaking figuratively, a time is coming when I will no longer use this kind of language but will tell you plainly about My Father. In that day you will ask in My name. I am not saying that I will ask My Father on your behalf. No, the Father Himself loves you because you have loved Me and have believed that I came from the Father. I came from the Father and entered the world; now I am leaving the world and will return to the Father.’”
These words finally did the trick. Something clicked in the minds of His disciples. They said:
“‘Now you are speaking clearly and without figures of speech. Now we can see that You know all things and that You do not even need to have anyone ask You questions. This makes us believe that you are from God.’”
Finally! They got it! But notice, what they “got” was not a list of rules or position of power. They did not “get” to their own moral perfection or a perfect knowledge. What was most important was for them to “get” Jesus…to really, truly believe in Him. And we know that they really got it because Jesus agreed. This is what the Lord said:
“‘You believe at last! But a time is coming, and has come, when you will be scattered, each to his own home. You will leave Me all alone. Yet I am not alone, for my Father is with Me.
“‘I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.’”
In that moment, in the Upper Room with Jesus, those words were probably very comforting. What did those words sound like when they remembered them as He was being arrested…beaten…and hung on a cross? Did they help them hold on to hope? Did they feel empty or even deceptive? In the devastating hours to come, the disciples would have their faith tested on extreme levels. Would they believe their Master when He Himself seemed to suffer the ultimate defeat?