may strike you as a curious point, but I can find no reference in the
Scriptures where Jesus is portrayed as comforting his disciples. The point is
parallel to Moody’s comment about trying to find Jesus discoursing at a funeral.
He never delivered a funeral sermon or eulogy – because all his funerals turned
into resurrections. Here, the night before the Crucifixion, Jesus gives them
comfort for what they are about to bear.
1“All this I have told you so that you will not go astray. 2They will put you out of the synagogue; in fact, a time is coming
when anyone who kills you will think he is offering a service to God. 3They will do such things because they have not known the Father or
me. 4I have told you this, so that when the time
comes you will remember that I warned you. I did not tell you this at first
because I was with you.
16:1 through John 16:4 (NIV)
has just come off his statement about the church and the world (last week’s
lesson). To further strengthen his disciples, He continues that now with a
warning which tells us just how the world will attack the church: with the
weapons of Satan.
begins with social pressure. In terms the disciples would understand,
they would be thrown out of the synagogue – for all practical purposes,
they would be ostracized in Jewish society of the time. We feel that same
pressure today. It is a subtle, delicate thing. Christians are denied
employment or promotion because “that religious thing might cause
trouble.” In every organization there are “ins” and “outs” – and the
Christian will be with the “outs.” You have been warned.
we see the application of legal authority – where it does not
belong. In our time we see the forced acceptance of homosexuality by
law. Even the homosexuals admit that they are a very small minority, but
by our courts they have found the way to have themselves portrayed as
noble sufferers at the hands of the evil right-wing fundamentalists. To
protect the world from Christ we send forth “justice.”
when these fail, we see the use of force, violence and intimidation.
The world is not reluctant to use such things – when the easier methods
occasionally occurs to the Christian to as, “Why? Why on earth would anyone
want to do such a thing?” The answer is rather simple: these are the people
who don’t know God (but think they do). They have created their own version of
God – and since they believe it, it must be true, right? The problem starts
there. Once convinced of their own righteousness, the rest flows
automatically. This is one good reason why Christians should remember that
they are sinners.
will you know who these people are? Simple enough: just look for the ones
applying social pressure, law and force to exalt what you plainly know to be
5“Now I am going to him who sent me, yet none of you asks me,
‘Where are you going?’ 6Because I have said these things, you are
filled with grief. 7But I tell you the truth: It is for your
good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to
you; but if I go, I will send him to you. 8When he comes,
he will convict the world of guilt£
in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment: 9in regard to sin, because men do not believe in me; 10in regard to righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where
you can see me no longer; 11and in regard to judgment, because the
prince of this world now stands condemned.
16:5 through John 16:11 (NIV)
Good for me to go
is announcing his departure. Tomorrow will bring the Crucifixion; on the
third day the Resurrection. The obvious reason that it is “good” for him to
leave is just that: without the Crucifixion, there is no redemption. Man
cannot be reconciled to God without it.
view, however, is seen much more clearly after the Resurrection than before
it. So Jesus gives them another reason – their own benefit. He tells them
that the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, will come to them.
obvious question – unasked, of course – is why the Counselor couldn’t show up
now. For the next three days the disciples are going to need some comfort.
They’re not going to get it. Why, then, didn’t the Holy Spirit come when so
answer is both simple and deep. Until the curse of sin is atoned for, the
Spirit cannot come – for He will not stay where sin continues. His arrival in
the Old Testament was for specific purposes of God, and the Spirit came only to
certain, selected individuals. Now the Spirit is in the Church. Our
Counselor, our Comforter, is with us.
The purpose of the Spirit
of the enduring puzzles to Christians is the concept of “the unforgivable
sin.” We are taught that such a thing exists; but if you ask the average
Christian to tell you what it is, he has no idea. Let’s begin with this: what
is the purpose, the task of the Holy Spirit?
- He is to convict the world of sin. We are taught that the work of
men is to believe in the Christ. If you will not believe, how can you be
forgiven? How will you believe that you need a Savior if you do not know
your peril? And how will you know your peril if you have no sense of sin?
- He is to convict the world of righteousness. Of righteousness? Yes indeed.
The horrible nature of sin is best seen at the Cross; for the Cross is
the penalty paid for our sin. The innocent Son of God was crucified to
make atonement. If there is sin, there must also be righteousness, and
the measure of righteousness is the Cross. Until we see our sin and his
righteousness, how can we be saved?
- He is to convict the world of judgment. The prince of this world
(Satan) now stands condemned. He has put to death an innocent man. For
all others Satan may defend himself in that they were sinners, but not
this one. The Prince of Evil is condemned. But God is not finished –
yet. The conviction is recorded, but the merciful God has held off
execution so that for some time the sons of Adam might be redeemed.
More to come
12“I have much more to say to you, more than
you can now bear. 13But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he
will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only
what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. 14He will bring glory to me by taking from what is mine and making it
known to you. 15All that belongs to the Father is mine. That
is why I said the Spirit will take from what is mine and make it known to you.
16“In a little while you will see me no more,
and then after a little while you will see me.”
Too much to swallow
is a great comfort to the teacher to know that even the disciples, in close
personal contact with Jesus for three years, neither received all that he would
teach nor did they comprehend it right away. Perhaps I am not the only thick
head who has ever puzzled over such things. Why is this?
in his mercy, teaches us as we are able to learn. His revelation to
Israel was progressive; his revelation to us is likewise progressive.
we learn, we grow in Christ. By this we should know that God is not
finished with us, as we are always growing.
in this life none of us reaches the point where God has nothing more to
teach us. His mercies are ever new.
Spirit of Truth
growth is largely the function of the Holy Spirit. He, by the gifts he gives
the church and its members, is to bring us to maturity in Christ. We should
know that that these gifts and our use of them are in accord with the purposes
of the Father. For the Holy Spirit, like Jesus, is one with the Father. This
one-ness is our guarantee that we are following correctly. If not, He will
convict us of our faults.
speaks only what He hears – as Christ did on this earth. God is three yet
one, and He is one of the three.
are explicitly told that the Spirit will reveal the future to us. This
was accomplished in John’s Revelation. It also applies to us; we are
warned by the Spirit of what comes.
Spirit brings glory to Christ. Have you noticed that the persons of God
bring glory to each other, not themselves? It is a lesson for us.
never comforted his disciples; he had no need. But the need has now arrived.
The provision of God’s supply for God’s work does not fail; at precisely the
right time, the Holy Spirit comes. It was true then, it is true today.
Lessons to take home
In ways mild, in ways strong, we should expect it.
it happens we should seek comfort in the Holy Spirit, who is given as
Comforter and Counselor.
are not to pass judgment on others; rather, we are to proclaim Christ and
his truth, then let the Spirit do his work of conviction.
that you are not fully grown yet – the Spirit has more work to do in your
heart as you grow in grace.