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Jan 2 / Chuck Smith, Jr.

January 1, 2017 – John 16:5-7

Our “Advantage” In 2017

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. But 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

Intro: A married couple in one of our Wednesday night meetings, happened to mention that I performed their wedding

Another couple said the same, then another, and another
• turns out, I had officiated the weddings of more than half those present
• more than one of those marriages are thirty-plus years old
– some of the engaged couples requested to observe Communion during their wedding
• so at that point of the service I would make it a point to say,
“[her name] and [his name] have asked that their first act as husband and wife is to observe the Lord’s Supper”
◦ what a great way to enter marriage!
◦ begin by receiving Jesus into the union of the new life they will share
• today, Reflexion’s first act in the new year will be to observe Communion together
◦ we begin 2017, receiving Jesus once again into our hearts and our community

How could it be to disciples’ advantage for Jesus to leave them?

Stories of Jesus reveal the inestimable value of his physical presence
– most of all, he brings God near to men, women and children
– when he sees suffering, he feels it
– when people confide secrets, he forgives
– he is loyal; he never betrays a trust
– his counsel is the best wisdom
• he always gives the perfect answer
– he meets the very real need for human touch
– he calms fears, heals wounds, resolves doubts, and restores hope
– besides all this, disciples could point to him and say,
“There he is! Go to him and see for yourself” (cf. Jn. 1:45-46)

So how could it be to our advantage to not have this Person always here?

What “advantage” did Jesus have in mind?

You heard that I said to you, “I go away, and I will come to you.” If you loved Me, you would have rejoiced because I go to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. (Jn. 14:28)

– going away physically, he returned to them a new way

But 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. (Jn. 16:7)
I have many more things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take of Mine and will disclose it to you. All things that the Father has are Mine; therefore I said that He takes of Mine and will disclose it to you. (vv. 12-15)

You see, someone could be to me the best friend imaginable
– but after doing all a friend could possibly do,
I am still alone inside this outer shell — the “public image” everyone else sees
• I am alone in my heartache
• alone in my frustration
• alone in my imperfections and failures
• alone in all my personal thoughts and memories
◦ alone in my deepest emotions
◦ and in every other aspect of my inner life
• I am alone in all that is most truly “me”
– so even as wonderful as it was having Jesus with them in body and soul,
• beneath their skin, the disciples were still alone

The new way Jesus came to them was not as his physical self

Regarding the Spirit, Jesus had told the disciples,

. . . you know Him because he abides with you and will be in you (Jn. 14:17)

– I doubt they understood this until later, but this was Jesus’ goal with them all along
• for him to take up residence in them by his Spirit

. . . if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him. If Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the spirit is alive because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you (Ro. 8:9-11)

Jesus is with us in this new way — this way of dwelling within us
– he is with me inside my experience of life
• he is with me inside my heartache and hurt
• inside my thoughts, inside my feelings, inside my perceptions
• with me inside the cravings I cannot let go of and the temptations that will not let go of me
– I am no longer alone – at any level of my being

The ultimate connection with God is Spirit to spirit

We want to know God – to get close to him
– but we are “only human” – our experience is limited to:
• sense perception and the mental constructs we make of our perceptions
• these channels of experience stop at the world
◦ they can take us no further than what is knowable and what can be felt
◦ with “tangibles” – people, objects, events
– in our world of experience, the role of our senses and thought are primary
• but in our encounter with God they are secondary
◦ they are not the end of our experience of the Infinite
◦ they pick up (transcendent) signals, they are not equipped to decipher

Since we are human, God uses things of our world:

To get our attention, to awaken our spirits
– God redeems our physical world
• so that his grace can reach us through it
◦ as far back as we know, humans have felt the sacred
◦ in objects, places, the elements, certain words, music, and so on
• in the Scriptures such things as clothing, fire, and one day of the week can be sacred
– it’s like an iron chisel that’s been lying in the sun, absorbing its warmth
• then, when I pick up the chisel, it transmits that warmth to my hand
• the sun is not in the chisel, nor does the chisel create the warmth
◦ in a similar way, God’s presence can warm a place or thing with his sacredness

Conc: So Jesus held the bread and the cup

And he radiated something into them

This is My body . . . This is My blood

– he made them sacred – channels of grace
• gifts tailored to our experience
• and by them he enters our inner worlds,
◦ uniting himself with us, Spirit to spirit

We will never again be alone

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