What does Jesus mean when he tells his disciples that it is to their advantage he leave so that he can send to them the Holy Spirit (John 16:7)? Thomas Goodwin has this beautiful reflection on Jesus’ teaching of the Holy Spirit’s ministry:
All the comfort he shall speak to you all that while will be but from the express of my (Jesus’) heart towards you; for as he comes not of himself but I must send him (John 16:7), so ‘he will speak nothing of himself, but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak’ (verse 13). And he says, ‘He shall receive of mine, and shall show it unto you’ (verse 14). Him, therefore, I shall send on purpose to be in my room, and to execute my place to you, my bride, spouse, and he shall tell you, if you will listen to him, and not grieve him, nothing but stories of my love. So it is there, ‘He shall glorify me,’ namely, to you; for I am in myself already glorified in heaven. All this speech in your hearts will be to advance me, and to greaten my worth and love unto you, and it will be his delight to do it. And he can come from heaven in an instant when he will, and bring you fresh tidings of my mind, and tell you thoughts I last had of you, even at that moment when I am thinking of them, what they are at the very time wherein he tells you them. And therefore in that I Corinthians 2, by ‘having the Spirit’ (verse 12), we are said to ‘have the mind of Christ’ (verse 16); for he dwelleth in Christ’s heart, and also ours, and lifts up from one hand to the other what Christ’s thoughts are to us, and what our prayers and faith are to Christ. So that you shall have my heart as surely and as speedily as if I were with you; and he will continually be breaking your hearts; either with my love to you, or yours to me, or both; and if either, you may be sure of my love thereby. And whereas, says he, you have the Spirit now in your hearts, so, verse 17 of John chapter 14, ‘he now dwells in you’; yet after my ascension ‘he shall be,’ in a further measure, ‘in you,’ as it follows there. And at that day, ‘you shall know’ (namely, by his dictate) ‘that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you’ (verse 20). He will tell you, when I am in heaven, that there is as true a conjunction between me and you, and as true a dearness of affection in me towards you, as is between my Father and me, and that it is as impossible to break this knot, and to take off my heart from you, as my Father’s from me, or mine from my Father.
~Thomas Goodwin, The Heart of Christ, 1862
Thomas Goodwin was an English Puritan theologian, respected as one of the greatest of his days. If you’re not familiar with him, I am pleased to make the introduction. You can read more about him here.