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Fifth Sunday of Easter – John 16:5-15

by pastorjuhl ~ May 7th, 2009

Revised from 2003.

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit

The Holy Gospel last weekend, this weekend, and the next two weekends focus on Jesus catechizing His disciples. He is preparing them for apostolic ministry after His ascension to heaven. When Jesus predicts His Passion, death, resurrection, and subsequent ascension, the disciples are exceedingly sorrowful. Who wouldn’t be? Jesus will soon depart. The disciples are sad even though they do not ask Him where He is going.

When someone leaves, there may be a promise to return. My late Uncle Loren used to say good-bye by saying, “See you at the next meeting.” Now my father has taken that phrase as his good-bye when we leave him or he leaves us. We might say, “see you later” or “see you around”. This means we will see the person departing sometime in the future. The danger in saying these phrases is the person not seeing us later or around. Who knows when death may overtake us? One of the regrets of losing a loved one in a sudden way is the regret that we never have to say good-bye, a word that is shortened from “God be with you”. If our loved one was a believing Christian, we know we will see them again.

We know that we will see Jesus again just as the disciples will see Jesus again. It is good that Jesus departs. If He does not ascend to His Father in heaven, the Helper will not come. The Helper, the Holy Spirit, does as He hears from the Father. When the Father is glorified, so is the Son and the Helper. The Helper comes to convict the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment. The disciples will stand in Christ’s stead and by the power of the Holy Spirit speak conviction to the world. It was no easy task then. It is still not an easy task today.

There is no lack of sin in the world. Sin is when we disobey God’s Word. The Helper convicts the world of sin because [the world] does not believe in [Jesus]. Not believing in God’s Word is more than disallowing prayer in schools or removing the phrase “God bless you” from our vocabulary. Not believing in God’s Word is putting another god, a false god, ahead of the One True God. When God supposedly “fails” us, we turn inside ourselves to find a god that will give us what we want. The result is looking to reputation, income, sex, drugs, food, or another idol that soothes us but cannot forgive us. When the Helper convicts us of sin, we believe the Helper is our enemy rather than our Helper.

Allowing sin to reign in our bodies means we lack righteousness from above. We believe we may be righteous but that righteousness does not save us. If we were righteous by what we say or do outside of Jesus, then why bother coming to Church? We don’t need Jesus anymore. We’re righteous! We did it our way! Everything Christ does is not for us but for our neighbor who isn’t as righteous as I am. When the Helper convicts us of righteousness, we think Jesus departs because we need Him no longer. The Helper is once again our enemy rather than our Helper.

Reigning sin and self-righteousness brings judgment. The ruler of this world rejoices because we do not listen to our Father in heaven. We listen to Satan, the ruler of this world. We make our ways His ways. The path grows dark when we listen to Satan. Standing against God in the darkness becomes comfortable. We know what to expect when we walk in darkness. We are allowed to do whatever we want, whenever we want. There is no jealous God looking over our shoulder threatening us with the Law. The Gospel is for wimps who can’t save themselves. What will happen when Jesus returns to judge the living and the dead? What will self-righteousness rooted in sin say in our defense? These things will say nothing, for the Law of God silences them. We are found guilty. We must die for all eternity with the ruler of this world. We have cast our lot with death. We stand convicted with Satan.

Jesus says when…the Spirit of truth has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. The Helper speaks to the Apostles first on Pentecost through a rushing wind and tongues of fire. The Helper will speak through them the Law of God, convicting the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment. The Law cuts the heart open to expose the cancer of sin and death. Yet this conviction heals the heart from the cancer of sin and death. The dead lives because Jesus Christ becomes death for us. Jesus Christ is convicted of sin, righteousness, and judgment in our place. Jesus takes the punishment we deserve. Jesus dies and rises again, putting death to death forever.

The Helper glorifies the Father and the Son because He delivers Good News to a dying world. When pastors speak, they speak not their own words but the Word that convicts. When we hear the word “convict”, we sometimes put the emphasis on the first syllable. Someone who is in prison is a “convict”, a noun. We are convicts outside of Jesus Christ. Jesus uses the word “convict” in John chapter 16 as a verb, putting the emphasis on the last syllable. To convict someone means to show evidence that demands a verdict of “innocent” or “guilty”.

Pastors preach the law to convict us of our sin. Pastors preach the Gospel to convict us that our sin is pardoned in the blood and righteousness of Jesus Christ. We are judged “innocent” because of Jesus. Jesus convicts the ruler of this world in His death and resurrection. The head of the serpent is crushed once and forever.

Every Lord’s day the Helper helps us see Who brings forgiveness and life. He helps us see Jesus in the preaching of the Gospel. The Word of Christ proclaims an end to death and a beginning of everlasting life. The Helper helps us see our Baptism and how we live our lives as royal priests. A royal priest prays, sings, and lives their lives in the forgiveness given us through water and the Word of God. The apostle James writes let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God. Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. Absolution reconnects us to Baptism as Jesus forgives our sins through His called and ordained servant. As we are absolved, so we should absolve one another when we sin against each other. A royal priest does not live in spite against another royal priest. A royal priest forgives just as he is first forgiven in Christ.

The Helper directs us to the altar, where forgiven royal priests receive the True Body and Blood of Christ in the Lord’s Supper. His Supper is the foretaste of the Supper to come in heaven. There and here, our song of victory sounds like the words of Isaiah: God is my salvation, I will trust and not be afraid; For YAH, the Lord, is my strength and my son; He also has become my salvation. We leave the house of the Lord today fortified with Christ’s forgiveness and Christ’s life. Great indeed is the Holy One of Israel in our midst, not merely in the liturgy, but in us under bread and wine.

Jesus will soon ascend into heaven but He will not leave us as orphans. The Helper soon comes to lead us into all truth. He will lead us out of the pit of self-righteousness and false gods to the Lord Jesus Christ and His Gifts of forgiveness and life. Even now, He is here in Word and Sacrament just as He said He world. He has put a new song in our mouths; a song of freedom from sin and joy in Jesus always.

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit

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