In John chapters 14 to 16, Jesus takes an opportunity to offer comfort to his closest followers in the face of his impending betrayal, arrest and death. He gives them many gifts in these passages—the sort of gifts that will keep them sane and bring them courage in the middle of the hardest times in their lives. They will be keys to hold onto, to remember when they find themselves at the end of their rope. See, Jesus knew. He knew what they would have to face. He understood the ramifications of the spreading of his radical Kingdom message on an Earth that had turned from truth in so many ways. He not only comprehended the inevitability and necessity of suffering through his own experiences, but also knew that his friends would not be exempt. This is not what he came to save them from. He did not come to alleviate suffering, but to bring freedom by opening up a way to literally live in a reality that transcends this physical world.
When Jesus promised not only his peace, but his Holy Spirit, he was offering the gift of his nearness. He was telling his disciples that—yes, I’m leaving this Earth in physical form, but I’m not really leaving. In fact, I’ll never leave you. I will always be with you, through everything. And you will have a kind of peace that the world can never offer. My peace is different because it lasts and is not based on your circumstances.
Friends, this promise of Yeshua’s Holy Spirit is a gift that we still benefit from to this day. And as I think about this reality, I can’t help but marvel: What greater gift could we ever hope for?
Yeshua’s Spirit is just as much Yeshua as the man himself. And he is with us. Of course it is going to be more challenging in some ways to not have the physical person to cling to since we live in a world that bombards us with the alleged importance of physical things. But this hope that we are never truly alone, that Yeshua himself is available to us at all times, opens up a reality that the world can’t even begin to offer. And that is the good news!
When Jesus becomes our reality, when we start to understand what he was really saying in those chapters in John, we realize that we never have to face anything in this life with fear, anxiety, or stress. Our circumstances may be painful, they may be telling us that we’re doomed, but if we tap into the faith that is readily accessible through the Spirit of Yeshua who literally resides inside of us, his reality trumps those feelings. Think about it. How many stories have you heard of martyrs who went to their graves with peace in their hearts and shining faces? It doesn’t really make sense unless all of this is real. And it is, friends. It is.
When I think about the gospel and the “good news,” I have to consider that quite possibly the best gift and the best news of all for this present life that we live in our earthly bodies is that Yeshua’s Spirit is with us. He ascended to the Father—oh, but he never really left. We always think of the good news as the fact that he died, took away our sins to set us free, and resurrected to give us a new life. And it is—this is incredible news, and surely where it all begins. But how crazy amazing is it that it doesn’t end there? The best gift is that we don’t have to wait for this new life. Yes, we’re anticipating glorified bodies and the absence of sin and evil in Heaven. But Jesus created a reality for us to walk in while we’re still living on this fallen Earth by not only coming and living here, but staying!
He has never left. His reality is our reality.
This is the best gift.
With that in mind, have a very Merry Christmas, full of the joy and peace that Yeshua offers in the midst of whatever you are facing.