Friday, March 31, 2017
In our last post we began considering what it means to be united to Jesus Christ. Union with Christ lies at the core of Christian identity. Union is that ministry of the Holy Spirit that connects the Christian to Christ. Such union begins at conversion and continues on into sanctification. In the above opening passage, we see first mention of this concept by the Lord Jesus Christ. This truth is relayed in the context of the devastating announcement that He was going to be leaving His disciples. His promise to the disciples was that upon His ascension into Heaven, He would have the Holy Spirit sent to them in His name (see John 14:26-27; 15:26-37; 16:8-12). Today's post wants to briefly explain why Jesus words here in John 14,15,16 turn out to be better for our sake. In other words: why did Jesus need to ascend into heaven rather than remain here on earth as it relates to our relationship to Him and He with us?
It is far better for Jesus to be "in" us and us to be "in" Him than how He was with His disciples
Now it is at this point I raise this question: which is better? to have the physical, pre-pentecost Jesus here and localized or to have the glorified physical post-pentecost Jesus in Heaven? I raise this question as it pertains to comparing the relationship with Christ experienced by all Christians versus what the disciples had in the four Gospel accounts.
I'm sure we all have said to ourselves: "how great it must had been to hear Jesus preach, watch Him do miracles and eat meals together with Him". The disciples had certainly come to enjoy the company of their master. However, Jesus' ultimate aim was not merely to be with them. Doubtless He would go to the cross and die for them (and us) and rise from the dead.
However, even beyond those crucial works, the Lord Jesus Christ was expressing this incredible state whereby He could be "in" His people and He "in them. The only way this amazing state could be achieved was for Jesus to ascend 40 days after His resurrection and for the Holy Spirit to be sent in His name at Pentecost in Acts 2. The Lord Jesus Christ functions currently as the Mediator between believers and God (see 1 Timothy 2:5 and 1 John 2:1-2). In as much as we are saved by Christ's accomplished work at the cross and resurrection (see Ephesians 1:7; Romans 4:25); the Christian is also a recipient of His ongoing work as Prophet (Hebrews 1:1-2); Priest (Hebrews 7:24-25) and King (Romans 9:5; Philippians 3:20). These incredible benefits are possible due to the Holy Spirit's uniting of each Christian to Christ in justification and continuing such connection in sanctification (1 Corinthians 1:30). Thus, these are some of the main reasons why Jesus needed to ascend into Heaven rather than remain here on earth for our sakes.