In a recent post, On Your Own Terms I mentioned Jesus’ words to His disciples in John 16:7,
“It is for your benefit that I go away, because if I don’t go away, the counselor will not come to you.”
It is for your benefit, so that the Counselor, the One who comes along-side, will minister to you. He will be an individual, personal, and ongoing revelation to you. When I am no longer in the flesh, in a form you understand, you will have to reckon more deeply with what it means to follow Me …and that process will be your daily redemption.
That is, of course, my interpretation, but that is also the point I want to emphasize: it is for your benefit that I take this form which you are not familiar with, because when I am manifested in this new way, you will have to reckon more deeply with what it means to follow Me.
This makes me think of a comment which Paul made to the Corinthians, that, we no longer know one another according to the flesh. “Therefore, from now on, we recocognize no one according to the flesh; even though we have know Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him in this way no longer.” (2 Corinthians 5:16)
Jesus appeared in a form with which people were familiar, which in many ways was a good thing, but, as we know of Jesus’ interactions with the people of His own hometown (see Mark chapter 6), famiarity can be a hindrance to spiritual effectiveness and freedom. The proclamation, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near” (Matthew 3:2) applies here; essentially, it means, ‘you must completely change your thinking if you want to recieve this revelation.’ You must loosen your grip on what you know, and that was precisely the issue with the people of Jesus’ hometown; they already thought that they knew Him. “Isn’t this Joseph’s son?” They knew who He was, where He came from; how could he now do these miracles and teach these things? What are you talking about, Jesus? You’re just some kid from our town.
They knew Him according to the flesh, according to the outer shell, according to the facade which would pass away. The text says that He could not do many miracles there because of the unbelief. I don’t know how much emphasis to give this point, but it does not say “did not”, it says “could not”. The people needed to let go of what they thought they knew about Jesus.
Maybe it’s a little strange, but that story brought me a little closer to a working understanding of forgiveness: I came to think of forgiving as “letting go of”. Thus, it could be said that the people needed to forgive Jesus of what they thought they knew. ‘Let go of’, ‘not hold to anymore’, ‘release from’; these phrases describe forgiveness to me. I say all of this to illustrate the potential power of Jesus circumventing our expectations.
Much “letting go” must happen for the ministry of the Counselor, the Holy Spirit to take hold. I have heard that the Rabbinic tradition of teaching was to answer a question with a question. Now, it seems like something of that teaching style lives on in the ministry of the Holy Spirit may, who may sound like your voice, or a friend’s voice, or maybe feel like intuition. Because the Holy Spirit now dwells within you, you cannot defer the discernment of righteousness to another. It’s as if Jesus’ response to Pilate, “It is as you say” echoes far beyond the context in which those words were originally spoken. Christ atoned for us and now, God is not the one doing the judging, certainly not in the way that the people approaching Jesus in the flesh were expecting Jesus to render judgements for their inquiries.
Often, a person seeks God for a judgement, a verdict for their inquiry, and it need not be an obvious matter of sin. Maybe it’s just, “should I turn right, or should I turn left?” “What is Your will?” There is one rule that I approach this situation with: consistency outweighs intensity. The Counselor, as that name for the Spirit implies, is along-side all the time. So we’re not talking pilgrimage, we’re talking peace. That is certainly a challenge because it’s a heck of a lot easier to look elsewhere for the Divine than to face yourself, which is precisely where the guiding peace has been appointed to dwell.