May 13, 2021

Leaving for Good

John 16:5-11

“It is for your good that I am going away.”

—  John 16:7

Our Bible reading today takes us away from the Revelation story. Today is Ascension Day, 40 days after Easter, and on this day Jesus concluded his public ministry to return to his Father in heaven.

We might be tempted to read this moment in Jesus’ ministry as a big loss. We might wonder if the good news of Easter, when Christ rose in victory over death, might not have been better served if Jesus had stayed here on the earth.

We are not the first to be puzzled about this, or to question the wisdom of Jesus’ leaving. As Jesus himself remarked, his first disciples were “filled with grief” about the idea of his going away.

We can be thankful, though, that Jesus explained the reason for his leaving to go back to heaven. He said, “It is for your good that I am going away.” And he went on to say, “Unless I go away, the Advocate [the Holy Spirit] will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you.”

Then, ten days after his ascension into heaven, Jesus poured out the promised Holy Spirit on his followers. That took place during the festival of Pentecost, when people from many nations were gathered in Jerusalem (Acts 2). And still today, through the Spirit’s presence—that is, the presence of God living within each believer—the people of God are empowered to receive the gifts of God and to take the good news to every nation.

Until you come again, Lord Jesus, thank you for your ongoing ministry from the throne in heaven. Empower us by your Holy Spirit, we pray. Amen.

About the author — Jim Poelman

Pastor Jim Poelman and his wife, Linda, served five churches in Ontario and British Columbia for thirty-nine years. They enjoy family gatherings with their extended household of children and grandchildren—29 members in all—often creating lots of happy noise.

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