It’s never easy for parents to watch their kids go off to college for the first time. My wife, Janet, and I watched two of our kids leave for college just last week! Even though we miss having them around the house, the life skills college-aged kids gain while living independently are often as valuable long-term as the education itself.
The same was true for the disciples and the early church. Before Jesus’s ascension, He told them, Nevertheless, 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 16:7). It might have been easier for the Church if Jesus had stayed and immediately set up an earthly kingdom. But in His divine plan, God choose to send the Holy Spirit as Jesus returned to the right hand of the Father.
Dr. Michael Horton, host of Core Christianity, recently wrote that the Jesus’ ascension and the Holy Spirit’s presence at Pentecost was essential for the spread of the gospel and the growth of the church.
The same Spirit who ushered into this present evil age the future resurrection of the dead by raising Jesus, will now bind us to the resurrected Jesus in anticipation of that resurrection. He will first of all raise us spiritually from the dead, so that we will be able to understand and embrace Jesus Christ as our vine, with us as his branches. The future has arrived! But it could happen only when Jesus ascended. That’s the paradox here. Only when Jesus left would the future arrive or the new creation dawn—not just upon and for Jesus, but upon and for us. Only then would we be swept into the age to come.
To read more about the Holy Spirit’s work in God’s redemptive plan, click on Mike Horton’s fantastic article, The Work of the Spirit that Anticipates the Future and while you are there, feel free to review archived broadcasts of the program posted at CoreChristianity.com.