What would you do if Jesus physically came to visit you for a day?
Would you be filled with joy? Would you be so excited to turn the door knob and open your door and see Him on the other side that you might just pass out and keel over instead?
Or does the thought of looking Him in the eye fill you with shame or dread? Is there something you are doing that you know He doesn’t like, and you would feel the need to stop doing it and apologize to Him if you could really see Him in the room?
Would you just want to hug Him and hug Him and hug Him? Sit on the sofa beside Him and tell Him everything you’ve ever thought and felt in your life? Or maybe you’d pelt Him, if you were honest, with a barrage of questions and pain, and hope that He could handle it.
Or maybe you’d get on the phone and invite everybody you know to come over to your house and meet Jesus. Maybe you’d grab His hand and drag Him next door to do the easiest “evangelism” you’ve ever done: “Hi, I wanted you to meet my friend Jesus who’s visiting me today. This is Jesus. Jesus, I’ll let You take it from here. Tell them about Yourself.” Then stand back, shut up, and watch the action.
(Of course, Jesus might throw it back at you. He might say, “Can you tell your neighbor what you like about Me?” and then you’d find yourself “sharing your testimony.”)
Maybe you have a wound or some sickness(es) you’d want Him to heal. Maybe you’d grab His hand and put it on the hurting spot. Or maybe you have some friends with great pain and incurable disease. “Jesus, quick, hop in the car, I need to take You to where You’re needed most.” It wouldn’t feel like “praying for healing” if you showed up at the front door with Jesus in tow. It wouldn’t feel like you needed “faith” if you could see Jesus walking towards your sick friend. Jesus is here. Miracles will happen. Everything will be OK now. I’m done here. I brought Jesus.
Or maybe, while you were hanging out with Jesus, you’d grab your Bible, climb onto His lap, and open it. You’d ask Him all your questions. You’d read Him a story and ask Him, “What were You feeling when You said that? What would You have said to me if I’d been there? What do You want to say to me about that now?” Everything you read would start a conversation with Jesus.
Would you be so relieved to see Jesus that you’d burst into tears? So awed to meet Jesus that you’d tremble? So overjoyed to meet Jesus that you couldn’t stop laughing?
Well, guess what? That day-with-Jesus you’ve just imagined is what the Holy Spirit is like. The Holy Spirit is not a stranger. The Holy Spirit brings the presence of Jesus into your life, your house, your car, and your heart.
If you think you might cry, tremble, laugh, fall over, or start repenting of your sins if Jesus walked in your front door, then it makes sense that sometimes the Holy Spirit has those effects on people.
If you would feel loved by God like you’ve never it before if Jesus was standing in your living room wrapping His arms around you, then it makes sense that people feel the Father’s love like never before through the Holy Spirit.
If you’d feel empowered to introduce your neighbor to Jesus if Jesus was standing beside you, then it makes sense that the Holy Spirit can give people a crazy boldness they never had before.
If you’d expect miracles to happen if you visited your sick friend with Jesus in the car, then it makes sense that miracles happen when the Holy Spirit shows up, too.
And if sitting on Jesus’ lap to read the Bible would make it come alive, so does reading it with the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit isn’t weird or scary–at least not scary in any bad way! The Holy Spirit is just bringing the presence of Jesus.
And of all the things Jesus ever said, I suspect that the one we are the most tempted not to believe is this: He said it was better for us for the visible physical Jesus to leave earth, go up to heaven, and send the Holy Spirit (John 16:7).
Have you ever wanted to scream at Jesus, “No it’s not!!! Come back!!!”? I sure have. And one of the biggest reasons that I didn’t believe Him was this: I didn’t believe I could have intimate, personal, two-way communication with Jesus by the Holy Spirit the way I could if Jesus was still present on the earth in bodily form.
But it turns out, that isn’t true. It was a big fat lie. God would be a cruel Father if He took that away from us again and then told us it was better this way. He knows it wouldn’t be better. He knows how my heart aches to communicate with Him, and His heart aches for it too, more than I ever could. And He knows that having the Holy Spirit filling each believer on the earth is an enormous improvement to having Jesus in bodily form. The Holy Spirit enables God to have that intimate, ceaseless, personal, two-way, spirit to Spirit communication with each of His children that He longs for. A primary reason that Jesus died was so that God could send the Holy Spirit. So that God could “pour Him out on all flesh” (Acts 2:17) and reveal Himself to young and old, male and female, everyone alike. The Holy Spirit is not a poor consolation prize while Jesus has to be away in Heaven; the Holy Spirit is the best thing to happen yet!
The Holy Spirit reminds us of things Jesus said (John 14:25). He reveals new things to you (16:12-15). He convicts us, and the world, of sin (16:8). He can answer our questions. He can guide us, fellowship with us, commune with us. Primarily, He reveals Jesus to us. That is His role. Through the Spirit, we can “see” Jesus through the eyes of faith, the eyes of our heart. We’ll talk in more depth next week about the kind of “seeing Jesus” that the Holy Spirit gives us.
But for now I’ll just say that, yes, through the Holy Spirit we can “hug” Jesus in this life, we can “see” Jesus in this life, we can “hear” Jesus in this life. The Holy Spirit reveals Jesus to us in a greater, sweeter intimacy than we could have had if we had lived in 30 AD and met Him on the earth. This is the promise of the Bible to every believer. By the Spirit we can talk with Jesus by both day and night.
Think of it. If you had lived back then, you couldn’t have done that.
First of all, there’s a high probability that you aren’t Jewish. If not, uh oh, you wouldn’t have easy access to Jesus. That was something the Holy Spirit brought. Like me, you might be a girl. Jesus was really good at being friends with girls. He honored women like nobody else had ever thought of. Still, it could limit our access to Him. If He was camping out on the hillside surrounded by his disciples, I wouldn’t be able to reach out and talk to Him in the middle of the night like I can having His Spirit. Even if you’re a guy, you might not be one of the twelve lucky guys traveling with Jesus; you might be one of the five thousand guys chasing Jesus around the lake trying to get near Him.
And even if I was one of the twelve lucky guys who shared His campfire, I couldn’t talk to Jesus all night. Physically-present Jesus needed sleep! (And even if Jesus agreed to stay up late to talk to me, those five thousand guys were known to show up when Jesus had tried to plan alone time with His disciples!)
In other words, each of us would have had much less access to Jesus without the Holy Spirit!
But by the Holy Spirit, all barriers of gender and race are dissolved. By the Holy Spirit, Jesus is with us ceaselessly to the end of the age. By the Holy Spirit, we can have ceaseless communication with Jesus all day and night, whenever we wake and even in our dreams.
God has always wanted more than a “daily devotions” or “quiet time” with us. The Bible never actually commands those. The Bible says He wants us to let His word dwell in you richly (Colossians 3:16), pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17), give thanks in everything (v. 18), praise Him all the day long (Ephesians 5:19) — He yearns for ceaseless communion and communication with us by His Spirit as His Spirit reveals Jesus to us. That’s primarily through His word, but as we know His word, we can have communion and conversation with that Jesus all day long.
God’s word promises that we are blessed if we meditate on it day and night (Psalm 1:2). This “meditation” is not just memorizing words and thinking about them all by ourselves. It involves discussing them with the Holy Spirit. It includes picturing, imagining, discussing, and letting Him use that word to reveal Jesus to us, to fellowship with us, to meet our needs. We do not just have a book, we have the God revealed in the Book.
The things that Jesus’ first disciples did physically, we do by the Holy Spirit. We follow Him, hear His voice (John 10:16), draw near to Him, and sit at His feet and listen to His teaching (Luke 10:39) through the Holy Spirit. And what does this feel like? It does not feel like thinking about a book, it feels like talking to a Person. That is what we are doing, as God’s Spirit reveals Jesus to us through the word, as He illuminates the Father in the Son through the Scriptures to us. It can feel like seeing, like hearing, and like hugging Jesus as we get to know Him through the Spirit illuminating Him in the word to us and as by the Spirit we walk with Him throughout the day.
By the Spirit we walk with Jesus and we talk with Him. What was lost in the garden is restored, not as fully and perfectly as it someday will be, but so much more than most of us have ever dreamed. We can have so much in this life. Again we come back to our question – how much of the relationship with God that was lost can be and is restored now by the indwelling Holy Spirit?
The word Jesus used to describe the Holy Spirit was the parakletos, that is, “the One who pulls alongside of you” (John 14:16). Did you like imagining what your life would be like if physically-present Jesus was literally “alongside of you” throughout your day? Well, Jesus really does want your life to look and feel and be like that. That’s why He promised to ask His Father for this One who can pull alongside each individual one of us each and every day. And the Holy Spirit is not a Stranger we get instead of Jesus. Through the Holy Spirit, Jesus promised in John 14:18, “I will come to you.”
Maybe we weren’t just imagining spending today with Jesus.