When someone dear to you is about to leave—whether it is to move across the world or to face the painful reality of death—it seems absurd for them to tell you how much better things will be for you.
That’s the way Jesus’ followers must have felt when He was telling them about the better things in store for them.
He told them that things would be different. When the Spirit comes, the presence of God in the world will not be limited to the place where Jesus was, but would be all around, in the hearts of all believers, and, through them and the power of the Word, influencing people.
Jesus describes some of the ways He will work.
And when he comes, he will convict the world of sin and righteousness and judgment: concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged. (John 16.8-11)
These things were descriptive of what Jesus did as He walked the earth—only better. In the same way that Jesus seemed to make people aware of their sin when they were in His presence, the Holy Spirit would be showing people their sinful condition in every place that the Word would be carried forth and proclaimed by His people.
Just as Jesus walked through this world giving the perfect expression to the holy life to which we are all called, so the Spirit would enable every believer to live that life out more and more and more in such a way that the world would see and recognize the righteousness of Jesus in them.
Jesus pointed people to the hope of His sacrifice as the only way to escape the judgment to come. So the Spirit, He promised, would make clear the choice to be judged with the ruler of this world, Satan, or to follow the Savior of the world.
You see, Jesus had shown them the so many things, things far beyond the good things they had known, better than they had ever imagined. And now Jesus was describing for them a forthcoming reality in which they would experience all the best things they had seen in His presence.
He promised that the Spirit would be better. That’s hard for us to imagine. But think about it with me.
When Jesus went off by Himself to pray, He was, for just a while, away from them. When He would take Peter and James and John up further upon the mountain, the others would no longer be experiencing His presence.
BUT… when the Spirit would come and take up residence in the heart of every believer, they would NEVER be deprived of His presence. They would NEVER be separated.
Jesus promises that, with the indwelling Holy Spirit, they would experience all the best things… and so far beyond what they could comprehend.
He had great things ahead, but they were on the other side of some of the most painful things they would ever experience.
And today you and I, if we have put our hope and trust in Jesus, are experiencing that great expanse of possibility as His Spirit is at work in us. He is at work, doing all the best and far beyond.