WRITTEN BY NICOLE PARKS
In the book “The Forgotten God” by Francis Chan, he poses the question, “If you could choose between Jesus beside you and the Holy Spirit within you, which would you choose?”
If you would say Jesus beside you, Francis would say that you probably do not truly understand the power of the Holy Spirit.* Don’t beat yourself up though; the original disciples of Jesus did not understand either.
Jesus predicted his death and resurrection multiple times to his disciples, but they did not understand. In one such prediction, he even tells them why it would happen: “And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself” (John 12:32).
In the chapters that follow, Jesus continues to explain to his followers what must happen and they continue to not understand him. But Jesus said to them, “very truly I tell you, it is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you” (John 16:7). The Advocate is the Holy Spirit, the third member of the trinity, the equal yet often “forgotten” God.
This is how God was going to change His people.
Through Jesus, he made a way for His very Spirit to dwell in the hearts of His followers. Jesus Himself said that it was better for Him to go away so that instead we could have the Holy Spirit!
After the resurrection, John records two things of significance in the first meeting with the resurrected Jesus.
In John 20:21-22, Jesus appears to his disciples for the first time after the resurrection and says, “”Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” And with that he breathed on them and said, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit.’” Jesus gave them His Spirit and He sent them out as the Father had sent Him.
Just before the crucifixion, Jesus alluded (again) to the way and purpose with which he had been sent by the Father. In John 17:4, in praying to the Father, Jesus said, “I have brought you glory on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do.” That work was to point people back to a loving Father, to make a way for redemption and reconciliation with Him. He ushered in a new kingdom, a kingdom characterized by life, love and hope, not death and despair. The resurrection of Jesus was the fist-fruit of this new Kingdom. It loudly proclaimed for the ages that death had been defeated!
When Adam and Eve first disobeyed, God vowed to redeem His people and make right what they had made wrong. Now we as believers have the opportunity to co-labor with Jesus to fulfill God’s ultimate purpose, which is to see the redeemed people from every nation, tribe, and tongue worshipping around the throne.
When Jesus first told his disciples that he was leaving, they asked when he would return. He sated very clearly “the gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nation, and then the end will come” (Matthew 24:14).
As we have looked at from the beginning, God has one goal: to redeem people from every nation.
In case it was not clear, Jesus put the final emphasis on this calling in His very last statement here on earth. Just before He ascended up to heaven where He took His seat at the right hand of God, He gave one final and all-encompassing command to His followers: “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Sprit, and reaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of age” (Matthew 28:19).
This is the Great Commission, also know as the Great Co-Mission. God has called every single one of us to participate in the most important task in God’s Kingdom…redeeming His people to Himself.
*Francis Chan and Dane Yankoski, Forgotten God: Reversing our Tragic Neglect of the Holy Spirit
This post originally appeared in For God So Loved, A Seven Part Study on God’s Heart For The World