God blessed me with a wonderful father. He went to be with Jesus when I was just 27, which is half my current age. Memories fade over time, but one thing in particular I remember about Daddy (yes I’m from the south) was his wit. Between my sophomore and junior year of college he and I traveled from Hattiesburg, Mississippi to Las Vegas, Nevada to help a new church with Vacation Bible School. The Vacation Bible School lasted a week, and, instead of heading home, we decided to tour California. From Las Vegas we went to San Francisco, drove the Pacific Coast Highway to Los Angeles, then went to San Diego. While in Los Angeles we went to see the game show Password Plus. Game shows record a week of shows in one day. The same audience is used for the first three shows, then a new audience is used for the last two shows. We were in the first audience. As we were leaving the studio we passed by the people waiting to enter for the final two shows. All of a sudden a voice cried out, “Cecil Carpenter!” Well as it turned out a couple that lived in Hattiesburg and knew Daddy were waiting to enter the studio. The woman said, “What in the world are you doing here?” Daddy replied jokingly, “Well, everybody has to be somewhere.”
It’s funny the things you remember. Daddy said that as a joke but for some reason it struck me as profound. This was not new information to me, but as a 19 year old I thought, “That’s right. Everybody has to be somewhere.” We are bound by time and space. If I’m in Los Angeles I’m not in Miami, New York, or any other place. If I’m at the NBC Studios in Los Angeles I’m not anywhere else in Los Angeles. If I’m in front of the NBC Studios in Los Angeles I’m not inside, behind, or to the side of the studio. As the old saying goes, “You can’t be in two places at the same time.” We’ve all had to make the choice between two or more events that are happening at the same time but are in different locations.
The corollary to “Everybody has to be somewhere” is “Nobody is everywhere.” These truths come with being creations of God. When God created Adam and Eve he put them in a certain place (the Garden of Eden) at a certain time (during the sixth day of creation). Jesus also came at a certain time in a certain place. As Galatians 4:4 says Jesus came “in the fullness of time,” meaning at just the right time. Jesus didn’t come too early or too late. He came to a particular place. Jesus was born in Bethlehem, grew up in Nazareth, ministered in Judea, Galilee, and Samaria, and was crucified in Jerusalem. While here on earth, because he is fully human, he had the same time and space limitations as all other humans. Wherever Jesus was, he was not someplace else at the same time. This is why he told his disciples that it was to their advantage that he leave.
I did not say these things to you from the beginning, because I was with you. But now I am going to him who sent me, and none of you asks me, “Where are you going?” But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart. Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. (John 16:4-7 ESV)
Jesus has just told the disciples that the world will hate them (John 15:18-25), and he is leaving. The disciples did not see this as good news. This is understandable. The disciples have been walking with Jesus for three years and now Jesus says those days are coming to an end. Jesus understands their struggle as he says to them in John 16:6, “sorrow has filled your heart.” But then he immediately says his leaving is to their advantage. He emphasizes this by saying, “I tell you the truth.” If Jesus does not leave the Helper will not come to them. In John 16:13 Jesus calls this Helper “the Spirit of truth.” Whereas Jesus could be with the disciples, the Spirit of truth would be in the disciples (John 14:17). If the Spirit of truth is in you, he is with you wherever you are. Not only that, he doesn’t have to leave someone else to be in you. That is a great advantage in and of itself, but Jesus gives other advantages to his sending the Holy Spirit.
- The Holy Spirit will convict the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment. (John 16:8-11)
- The Holy Spirit will guide into all truth. (John 16:13)
- The Holy Spirit will glorify Jesus by revealing Jesus to his people. (John 16:14-15)
Note carefully these advantages. None of them are about our happiness, health, or financial portfolio. These advantages all center on making Jesus known to those who will never see Jesus in the flesh in their earthly life. Imagine if what Jesus accomplished on the cross only applied to you if you had to meet Jesus in the flesh. Imagine if the only way to know the truth was to hear it with your physical ears from the physical lips of Jesus. Imagine if the only way to see and know the glory of Christ was to see him with your physical eyes. Jesus had to come as God in the flesh to accomplish our salvation, but he sent the Holy Spirit to apply that salvation to people all over the world. The Holy Spirit has done this now for over 2000 years and will continue to do this until Jesus returns.
Someone who came to a particular place at a particular time to accomplish salvation for all time sent someone who is everywhere all the time in order to make this salvation known to those of us who are bound to a particular place and time. Now that’s a real advantage.