John 16:5 “But now I am going away to the one who sent me; and none of you seems interested in the purpose of my going; none wonders why. 6 Instead you are only filled with sorrow. 7 But the fact of the matter is that it is best for you that I go away, for if I don’t, the Comforter won’t come. If I do, he will—for I will send him to you. 8 “And when he has come he will convince the world of its sin, and of the availability of God’s goodness, and of deliverance from judgment. 9 The world’s sin is unbelief in me; 10 there is righteousness available because I go to the Father and you shall see me no more; 11 there is deliverance from judgment because the prince of this world has already been judged. 12 “Oh, there is so much more I want to tell you, but you can’t understand it now. 13 When the Holy Spirit, who is truth, comes, he shall guide you into all truth, for he will not be presenting his own ideas, but will be passing on to you what he has heard. He will tell you about the future. 14 He shall praise me and bring me great honor by showing you my glory. 15 All the Father’s glory is mine; this is what I mean when I say that he will show you my glory. TLB
What is the general theme of the passage?
This small group has been bound together to function as “one” with Jesus in everything they’ve done and everywhere they’ve gone, until now. Jesus is going away and they are only filled with sorrow. The “one” that has been their purpose is now going to send a new identity into the world that will ease their sorrow and help them fulfill His purpose for “many” others…a Comforter. That Spirit of Holiness will convince the world sin is a destructive truth of man but Jesus is God’s truth about righteousness that will separate their identity from the world, relieve the sorrow of their sin and replace it with the shared glory of Jesus and His Father.
What does it say about God (or Jesus or the Holy Spirit?)
…it is best for you that I go away, for if I don’t, the [Holy Spirit] won’t come. If I do, he will—for I will send him to you.
What does it say about people?
…none of you seems interested in the purpose of my going; none wonders why. Instead you are only filled with sorrow [but] When the Holy Spirit, who is truth, comes, he shall guide you into all truth,
Is there truth here for me?
Jesus WAS their purpose and now He’s going away. No wonder they’re filled with sorrow. How will they identify themselves now? I was struck by the subtle difference between those two words, purpose and identity, and how similar this moment in those disciple’s lives is to my life as a follower of Christ today. My relationship with Jesus began with a purpose, to learn to be like Him. Purpose is like a placeholder but identity is what fills that place. That’s exactly what Jesus was doing here. He’d been the placeholder for these chosen men and His purpose had become their own but now it was time for more. A new Spirit of Holiness that would fill His empty place with their new identity as placeholders for many others to find their identity in Jesus. It’s amazing to think that right from the beginning of creation God’s purpose was that Jesus should live on earth, as a man free of sin, to become my placeholder too. The “one” place where even in sorrow I might discover His new identity for me was that I could be a placeholder too.