“We know that in the Book of John that Jesus tells us that He must leave so that the Spirit can come to us. That would lead us to believe that the Son and the Spirit cannot be here at the same time. However, there are at least 3 occasions where Jesus and the Spirit are both here at the same time. One example is when Mary visited Elizabeth during their pregnancies. Another is when Mary and Joseph took Jesus to the temple, and Simeon was filled with the Spirit. The final count is when Jesus was baptized and the Spirit came upon Him like a dove. So then, how do we reconcile these examples with Christ’s words in John?”
First, thank you for submitting such an insightful question. While there are seeming contradictions, the context of John 16 will help us to understand fully when He said that He must go so that the Father will send the Spirit to them. So, let’s briefly consider the rest of Scripture in order to determine whether Jesus and the Spirit can be present at the same time. You have provided three excellent examples: Mary visits Elizabeth, Jesus is presented at the temple and Simeon is full of the Holy Spirit, and at Jesus’s baptism, the Spirit descends on Him like a dove. These accounts are found in Luke 1, Luke 2, and Luke 3 respectively. Then, there’s also a major account where Jesus and the Holy Spirit were together at the same time: at the Creation found in Genesis 1. Now we know that Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. (John 14:6) Scripture also teaches us that it is impossible for God to lie. (Hebrews 6:18) Therefore, I submit that if we believe Scripture ever contradicts itself, we are completely mistaken. So, that brings us back to the context of Jesus’s statement in John 16. Now let’s ask a few questions of this text. Why is it better for Jesus to go? What does He mean? I’ve heard all my life that people wished they could have walked the earth during the time of Jesus. While that may sound good, the fact remains that by the time we reach John 16, Jesus’s earthly ministry is nearing completion. In this context, when Jesus says that it is better that He goes, He is nonchalantly referring to the cross. The cross changes everything. Through the cross, we have the opportunity for forgiveness; therefore, through the cross, we have the opportunity for renewed relationship with God. You see, before the cross we were still in our sin and all sacrifices under the Levitical code were simply rolled forward and the Holy Spirit simply worked among people. So in our right relationship with God, we are now able to have the Holy Spirit dwell within us. This outpouring was prophesied in Joel 2 and it came into fruition in Acts 2 and following.
So, let me conclude with this following summary. Jesus said it is better for Him to go, because through His death, burial, and resurrection we receive forgiveness of sin, at which time God sends His Spirit to dwell within us. (Acts 2 38-39) So then, there is no contradiction. Before the cross, Jesus and the Spirit could be together, but our relationship with God was still damaged through our sin. After the cross, our relationship with God has been reconciled and therefore God’s Spirit dwells within us, and yet Jesus tells us that He remains with us in Matthew 28:20.