We hope it was a fantastic Labor Day off yesterday. Here’s this morning’s devotion, from Simeon Zahl. 

“Nevertheless I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. And when he comes, he will convict the world of sin and righteousness and judgment…” (John 16:7-15, NRSV)

Pentecost_PicIn this chapter of John’s Gospel, Jesus is explaining to the disciples why it is better for him to go away than to stay. We can all relate to the disciples’ question. Wouldn’t life be easier if Jesus were still here, in flesh and blood, to talk to, to learn from, to minister to us, to answer our questions? Instead we are left with an invisible God, and it is not always easy to believe in something invisible. How could this be better than having Jesus with us?

Jesus’ answer is that he has gone away for our own good, so that he could send to us an Advocate, the Spirit, whose involvement in our lives and in the world will be even more wonderful than Jesus’ own.

This Spirit is an Advocate, a Paraclete. He is our advocate, in the world and before God. The Spirit is always on our side, and the Spirit is always with us. You cannot escape God’s advocacy. “Whither shall I go from thy Spirit? Or whither shall I flee from thy presence? … Even the darkness is not dark to thee.” (Psalm 139:7, 12). There is nowhere you can go to get away from being known and loved and defended and sought by the Spirit of God.

And this is true whether we like it or not. In verse 8 we are told that this Advocate is also the one who convicts us of sin. The Spirit is the one who reveals the truths we want to keep hidden and who looks at what we think is the best of ourselves and sees it for what it is.

Sometimes I wish I could stay in the darkness rather than face such light. “Even the darkness is not dark to thee.” Sometimes I am afraid of this Advocate, this fire from heaven that burns in order to heal, this Spirit of truth who sees through my lies. At the end of the chapter, Jesus says it straight: “you will have pain, but your pain will turn into joy” (John 16:20). May it be so.