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Fifth Sunday of Easter – John 16:5-15

by pastorjuhl ~ May 19th, 2011

A small portion of this sermon is from Rev. Peter Bender’s “Lutheran Catechesis”.

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

If the Resurrection of Jesus is behind us and the Ascension and Pentecost are before us, then why is there so much joy? All these positive words from Scripture appear on the cusp of what should be a very sad occasion. Jesus is about to ascend to His Father and our father, His Lord and our Lord. He will not dwell among men as He did from His birth through the salvation of the world. Instead of joy, there should be sorrow. Instead of hopefulness, there should be hopelessness.

Misunderstanding the joyful strain of Christ’s promise of the Holy Spirit is perhaps the best reason why we need to be convicted by the Holy Spirit. Jesus promises His Spirit to convict the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment. The Holy Spirit also comes to guide us into all Truth and to glorify Christ. Jesus says, The Spirit will take of what is Mine and declare it to you.

The Holy Spirit’s preaching of conviction carries two meanings. One is a conviction through convincing. It is the Spirit’s work to convince the world by announcing the verdict of God concerning sin, righteousness, and judgment. The Spirit’s preaching of conviction happens in the proclamation of Law and Gospel. Jesus says the Spirit will convict the world of sin, because they do not believe in Me.

Many people believe in a god. The question is whether the god they believe is the God Who saves many alive through the death of His only-begotten Son. The question is also whether or not we believe in the one true God. When we sin, we testify before God in heaven and before the world that we want no part of the God we believe. We would rather go our own way and find our own God. The convicting preaching of the Holy Spirit proclaims the need of a Savior outside us.

Jesus also says the Spirit will convict the world of righteousness, because I go to My Father and you see Me no more. Christ’s death for the sins of the world is the righteousness of God. God’s righteousness avails over the world’s righteousness. The world’s righteousness is one of vengeance, revenge, and putting one’s self over another by hook or by crook. Saint Paul describes God’s righteousness in Romans chapter three: But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.

Jesus then says the Spirit will convict the world of judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged. The devil is judged wanting because of sin and false righteousness. Jesus Christ is judged guilty of all sins on our behalf in order that we may be declared “not guilty” of all sins because of Jesus’ innocent suffering and death. The judgment we look forward to on the Last Day is one to righteousness and not to condemnation because of Christ.

Perhaps now we see why we can’t help but sing with great joy today. Sin is covered because of Jesus. Righteousness is ours because of Jesus. Judgment is not against us because of Jesus. He becomes sin. He gives us His righteousness. Our heavenly Father judges us worthy of everlasting life because of Jesus. Sing to the Lord a new song, for He has revealed His righteousness in the sight of the nations indeed!

The Holy Spirit also comes among us to guide us into all Truth. The Spirit is unable to do anything unless the Father and the Son speak the Word to the Spirit. The Word the Spirit speaks is the Word of Christ. Here’s how Saint James puts it in the Epistle: of His own will He brought us forth by the Word of Truth, that we might be a kind of first fruits of His creatures. It is God’s Will that all men be saved and come to the knowledge of the Truth. The Word of Truth is Jesus Christ.

When the Spirit proclaims the Truth among us in preaching and the Sacraments, we are brought forth out of sin and death into forgiveness and life. Saint Paul remarks in First Corinthians that Jesus is the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep. The lively Word of Christ that dwells in us richly bespeaks us righteousness. We are, as it were, little “christs”, little anointed ones, and a kind of first fruits. Through Baptism, we are a new creation. We are “rebooted” in the image of God, the image that is shattered because of sin. When the Spirit has His way with us, when He makes us holy through the Holy Things for the Holy Ones, we remain in the Truth, even to life everlasting. Death has no dominion over us. Satan becomes a laughing stock.

Through convicting the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment, as well as through keeping God’s elect steadfast in the true faith to life everlasting, the Holy Spirit glorifies Christ. Christ is glorified in us as the Spirit keeps us in our baptismal grace. As a new creation, we lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted Word, which is able to save [our] souls. What better way to glorify Christ than not to forsake meeting together to hear the Word and receive the forgiveness of sins! What better way to glorify Christ than to leave His house ready to walk as a child of the light, loving the fullness of His Word and letting His forgiveness and love show in all we say and do!

How can we keep from singing praise to God for all He has done, and continues to do, for us? He sends His Spirit among us to proclaim the convicting Word. Here we have no continuing city. We are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness. He sends His Spirit among us to keep us in all Truth and to glorify God. Grounded in forgiveness and new life, we sing God’s praises evermore. We sing the new song that declares new life because of Jesus.

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

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