Dispatch One Hundred Seventy-Three

Posted: August 21, 2015 in Thirty-Eighth Bundle
Tags: , , ,

JOHN 15:26-27, 16:4b-15

26 “When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who comes from the Father, he will testify on my behalf. 27 You also are to testify because you have been with me from the beginning.

4b “I did not say these things to you from the beginning, because I was with you.But now I am going to him who sent me; yet none of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’ But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your hearts. Nevertheless I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. And when he comes, he will prove the world wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment: about sin, because they do not believe in me; 10 about righteousness, because I am going to the Father and you will see me no longer; 11 about judgment, because the ruler of this world has been condemned.

12 “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.13 When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own, but will speak whatever he hears, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. 14 He will glorify me, because he will take what is mine and declare it to you. 15 All that the Father has is mine. For this reason I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.

The apostle Paul says that “the Lord [Jesus Christ] is the Spirit” present in the worshiping community. Although the distinctions that would later be formalized in the doctrine of the Trinity were not yet clearly defined in the New Testament, we can see their evolution through the decades of the first century.

Initially the Holy Spirit was understood to have come upon Jesus, anointing and empowering him for his ministry. Then, as the influence of his personality and unique vision grew in the faith and mission of the early Christian movement, the Spirit became increasingly identified with (the spirit of) Jesus himself. The reader may recall that later in this same Gospel (20:22) the risen Jesus breathes into the community of disciples the Holy Spirit, which by now is seen as his spirit living within them.

Apparently there were some in the early Church who wanted to “hold on to Jesus,” who, in other words, couldn’t let go of the fact that Jesus as they knew him was no longer with them. It was necessary for the first Christians – as it still is necessary for every Christian – to evolve from being followers of Jesus to becoming bearers of Christ. As long as they continued to look back and review the material of their tradition, they were impeding their own growth and advancement into the future frontier of world mission. “If I do not go away, the Advocate will not come.”

Sometimes you’ve got to let go in order to grow!

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