7 “I assure you that it is better for you that I go away. If I don’t go away, the Companion won’t come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. 8 When he comes, he will show the world it was wrong about sin, righteousness, and judgment. 9 He will show the world it was wrong about sin because they don’t believe in me. 10 He will show the world it was wrong about righteousness because I’m going to the Father and you won’t see me anymore. 11 He will show the world it was wrong about judgment because this world’s ruler stands condemned.
12 “I have much more to say to you, but you can’t handle it now. 13 However, when the Spirit of Truth comes, he will guide you in all truth. He won’t speak on his own, but will say whatever he hears and will proclaim to you what is to come. 14 He will glorify me, because he will take what is mine and proclaim it to you. 15 Everything that the Father has is mine. That’s why I said that the Spirit takes what is mine and will proclaim it to you.
In Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, during the climactic lightsaber battle between Obi-Wan Kenobi and Darth Vader, Obi-Wan says: “If you strike me down, I shall become more powerful than you can possibly imagine.” Then he does a surprising thing: he turns off his lightsaber and allows himself to be struck down. Throughout the rest of the original trilogy, Obi-Wan appears at critical times as a spirit – a “force ghost” – to encourage and guide his protege, Luke Skywalker.
I like to read this passage of scripture through the lens of that scene. Jesus tells the disciples, “If I go away, it’s actually better for you.” And I’m certain the disciples were thinking: “how could that possibly be true?” Vader I’m sure thought the same thing!
But it is true. Jesus, after his Resurrection, was no longer limited by his human form. It was a third movement of God in the world – from God over us, to God with us, to God in us. That’s who the Spirit is – God dwelling in us. The Spirit guides us into all truth, and unleashes the divine power that stirs our hearts, strengthens our resolve, and energizes our efforts. This is the gift of God given to all of us who believe – we are led by the Spirit!
Yes, it is for our benefit that Jesus went away. The gift of his Spirit continues to empower and strengthen the Church, even right up to today. Jesus was struck down, and yet he became more powerful than anyone could ever imagine!
By Joe Monahan
For Pondering & Prayer
Have you ever felt like, at a critical time in your life, the spirit of one of your ancestors – a parent or grandparent, aunt or uncle, or dear friend – was there encouraging you?
Prayer: Holy Spirit, come and dwell in me. Lead me, guide me, grant me the wisdom that comes from knowing you. Lend me your power to fight for the things that matter, and to do it with love and grace. Most of all, encourage me in my faith that I can trust you more and more. Amen.