Perhaps we have missed something here? I’m not too sure that we haven’t lost the plot completely.
There’s this crazy statement that Jesus makes that declares that it is better for us that he disappears and goes away so that a spirit comes in his place. For the disciples this was very alarming but for Jesus there was an expectant urgency to it all. He explains that this change will mean that more will be achieved, more will be understood, more will be revealed, more will be displayed, and many more reached and impacted.
What was he talking about?
What could he be referring to?
An ethereal presence of disputed form and function?
A memory of a great man once alive but now dead?
The disciples were almost completely in the dark. The only spirit they knew of was what they had heard about from the law and the prophets and this spirit mostly caused all manner of trouble.
Usually the prophets were possessed by this spirit and then they mostly did and said things that upset people around them, revealing stuff that was not right in the lives of people, often declaring gloom and doom, challenging the way things were, attacking the status quo, even destroying nations and bringing judgement on people and things. It was scary stuff being in contact with anyone who was in contact with this spirit.
And now Jesus is talking about this same spirit or another similar spirit who will be a comforter, one who will walk with them, each and every one of them. This spirit will reveal things to them, talk to them, show them things, explain things, even tell them deep and mysterious secrets and do amazing things through them.
Yes, that’s what he said.
Surely his being forever here of this planet, establishing an undisputed point of presence and building a solid community of followers would have been the most effective and powerful next step? Jesus, the eternal one walking amongst us for thousands and thousands of years. Touching and healing millions physically, bringing peace and prosperity to the whole world. Overturning political empires and overcoming the ruling world powers. Indestructible, all powerful, all knowing, teaching and instructing, performing miracles every day, drawing vast multitudes into the Kingdom of God.
But no, it was better for us that he go and in his place, a spirit will come.
And no one had a clue what he was talking about.
Yet this is what he said. A spirit. An untouchable presence to lead us on. He had made reference to something like it in the recent past as he walked and talked amongst them, but it was a bit vague and difficult to understand.
He had suggested things like movement, power, mystery. Just like the wind, giving no idea of where it comes from nor where it’s going. An unchaseable force, suddenly there, and then suddenly gone, or not.
With access to everyone and anyone. With access to anything. A spirit, like the wind, like the very breath of God, coming and going at will. Handing out strange abilities to the most unlikely of people. Causing inexplicable things to happen through the strangest of people. A spirit with no submissive allegiance to any person, answerable to no man nor group of men. A wind-like spirit, untouchable, undefinable, who can, will and does move in any way and at any time and also anywhere it chooses. Uncontrollable, unstoppable, impenetrable, unpredictable, unyielding, surprising, disturbing, soothing.
But we insist on a man leading us, standing in front of us on a stationary platform, leaning on a stationary podium in a stationary building. And we also insist on allowing that one man to speak almost exclusively to us and over us, telling us what to do, when to do it, why to do it, where and how to do it. We even seem to insist on this one man hearing from God on our behalf, hearing the spirit of God for us and having almost exclusive access to the very heart, mind and will of God.
We cannot enter into discussion when he speaks, this is simply not done. And besides, this would be rebellion or at best disobedience if we do. And God help us is we are even suspected of having a different opinion let alone openly disagreeing.
How did we shut the spirit out?
How did we get to this?
And just who is more intoxicated? … this man or us?
And who needs who the most?
Clearly we don’t seem to need the spirit?