ASCENSION and the Holy Spirit - John 16:7

Notes for a sermon with the Anglican congregation of St. James, Kingston, Ontario, May 13, 1982
by Robert Brow  (

At the Last Supper Jesus was preparing his disciples to fly on their own. The next day he would be crucified. Then he would appear from time to time to be with them for 40 days till Ascension Day. On the Day of Pentecost they would discover that they were now empowered by the Holy Spirit to do all that Jesus did, and very much more.

There was a boy who had a very rich uncle. The uncle had a plane, and the boy loved to go out flying with him. Then the uncle said "I am going to quit flying, and I am going to pay for you to have flying lessons so you can take me for a ride when I want to go somewhere." They had several long trips together. On their last trip the uncle told him to land near his favorite restaurant. As they had lunch together, the uncle took out some papers, and signed over the plane to the young man. Then he gave him a check for $10 million dollars. "This is for you to buy the best jet plane you can find, and all you will need for gas and repairs. Now fly me home." That night the uncle died in his sleep. The young man became an airline pilot, and did very much more flying than his uncle had ever dreamed of.

That is why Jesus said to the disciples "It is expedient for you that I go away" (John 16:7). The newer translations read "It is for your good that I am going away" and "it is to your advantage that I am going away." He also said "I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these because I go to the Father" (John 14:12 NIV).

What did Jesus have in mind for the disciples to do? He told the disciples "It is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. When he comes, he will prove the world wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment" (John 16:7-8 NIV). And you can see that Peter did just that on the Day of Pentecost, and more were converted in one day than through Jesus' preaching.

He also said "When he, the Spirit, comes, he will guide you into all the truth" (John 16:13 NIV). And you can see how Paul was guided into all the truth we find in his epistles.

And then Jesus said "He will bring glory to me by taking from what is mine and making it known to you" (John 16:15 NIV). Jesus did not say much to glorify himself, but soon there were churches in every city that delight to "set forth his most worthy praise" (BCP invitation to Morning Prayer).

How does this apply to us? Some people say "If only I could see Jesus in person, I would be able to believe?" But if we could be with him in the flesh, we would have far less than what we can experience by the Holy Spirit.

When you want to explain your faith to others, call on the Holy Spirit to make your words effective. Suddenly your words will become persuasive.

When you are confused about the Bible and what to believe, ask the Holy Spirit to give you clarity of mind. He can make clear what seems hard and obscure to our natural mind.

And when you come to church, ask the Holy Spirit to enable you to glorify Jesus the Messiah, King of kings and Lord of lords, and see how the service comes alive as you do just that.

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