I’ve worked with kids and families long enough to see it hundreds of times. You know the scene, too. A mom or a dad goes to drop their kid off at Bible class (or the nursery or school or day care) and it happens. Tears start to flow. Tiny hands clench around shirt sleeves and pants legs. The child screams for her mom or dad and throws a fit. The parent and the worker share this uncomfortable look like, “Good luck with this…”
Now, each child is different and there are many factors that could weigh in a parent’s mind. The reaction of any parent is to always hurt for their kids and to seek to give them comfort. No one wants to make their kids cry. So some will choose to stay with their kids or not make them go. Others will leave no matter what how loud the screams get.
But the goal of every parent is to eventually lead their child to become confident and independent, able to function well in the world and handle things on their own. To become like the parent. It’s better if we go.
Yesterday Trevor described the somewhat comical scene at the beginning of Acts after Jesus ascended into heaven. The disciples are caught looking up at the clouds, wondering what was next. And while there is no screaming or crying or fit-throwing going on, I imagine that they felt many of the same anxieties in that moment that a child feels when their father drops them off with a stranger.
Jesus was their life for 3 whole years. They had dropped everything in their lives — jobs, family — to follow this rabbi. As much as the cross had been devastating to them, the resurrection was even more glorious. And now he was leaving them again? What were they going to do now? Why was he leaving?
Jesus answered that question in John 16:5-8 (emphasis mine):
“But now I am going away to the one who sent me, and not one of you is asking where I am going. Instead, you grieve because of what I’ve told you. But in fact, it is best for you that I go away, because if I don’t, the Advocate won’t come. If I do go away, then I will send him to you. And when he comes, he will convict the world of its sin, and of God’s righteousness, and of the coming judgment.”
Why did Jesus leave? Because it was better for his followers. Because it was better for the world. Because it was better for everyone.
Jesus truly believed that the Holy Spirit working through the lives of his followers was a better situation for the world than his physical presence here on earth.
Think about that for a moment. The Holy Spirit, active and working in our lives, has the ability to show the world how sin has broken God’s creation. To lead us to a different kingdom where love, peace and joy are attainable realities. Where life can be experienced in its fullness.
Jesus understood those things to be true because he lived them while he was here. And he left, giving us his same Spirit, so we could experience that reality just like him.
He left so we could see this for ourselves.
So today may we dive into this wonderful reality. May we listen to the powerful Spirit within us. And may the world be blessed today by so many followers of Jesus sharing his love and peace and joy and kindness with those around us.
Because that’s why Jesus left.