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Fifth Sunday after Easter/Easter 4 – John 16:5-15

by pastorjuhl ~ May 3rd, 2012

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

            How shall we sing the LORD’s song in a foreign land? You walk as strangers in a strange land when you walk behind the Good Shepherd. No one wants to hear about the forgiveness of sins when one can eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow they shall die. No one wants to put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted Word, which is able to save your souls. A dying world hears James’ exhortation in the Epistle and brings forth filthiness and rampant wickedness against it.

Jesus is about to ascend to His Father and our Father, yet He says it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send Him to you. It would be good to have both Jesus and His Helper by your side. Protection from the enemy at two for the price of one is a bargain. Jesus in front and the Helper riding in back means the enemy cannot reach you.

Where are you going? You can’t leave now, Lord. The enemy will certainly attack without you by my side! How can I sing the new song Your Word declares if You aren’t there to hold my hand and teach me how to sing this new song? You promise a Helper, but what help is He when You are not there?

Sorrow is supposed to fill your heart as Jesus prepares you, and His disciples, for His ascension. Sorrow is supposed to be cast away in His death and resurrection. Forgiveness of sins and eternal life is yours! Yet you pine for Jesus to linger a bit longer, at least until there is no sign of the devil. Yes, Satan is conquered. Yes, no one can take your joy from you. However, some physical, tangible evidence of this Truth from time to time would do you good.

The evidence is in the Word Jesus speaks on the night when He was betrayed. The Comforter is coming to convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment. A conviction of the world does not sound like a good reason to sing to the Lord a new song. To convict someone of something is to pronounce a declaration that is proved true with evidence. The conviction is three-fold, concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.

The world is guilty on all three charges. No one wants to hear about habitually transgressing God’s standard of holiness. No one wants to hear they are not born perfect and holy. You don’t want to hear the proclamation of sin either. The call to repentance remains. Some hear this call and are contrite. Others hear this call and mock it as hypocritical piety from a God who is all about “love” and nothing about “contrition.”

No one wants to hear about the righteousness that comes from above in Jesus Christ. The world already considers itself righteous because of its mere existence. You join in this self-righteousness. When you continue to walk as if you are sinless and righteous on your own merits, the conviction of standing against Christ falls on you.

No one wants to hear about judgment unless the judgment is against the enemy and for themselves. God is a convenient enemy because He allows bad things to happen. He won’t justify what common sense thinks is correct. God is bent and shaped in every direction to cover a multitude of unrepentant sins. Consider how these words of Jesus can be twisted around to make you look like God and God look like your servant: He will glorify me, for He will take what is mine and declare it to you. Idolatry becomes reality with a switch of the subject and the object.

How shall we sing the LORD’s song in a foreign land? How shall you bear the Lord’s burden of being faithful to His promise of conviction when you are the one convicted every day for being His precious child? You bear this burden believing that Jesus first bore it for you. Jesus was convicted of sin because the leaders of the Jews did not believe in Him. The carpenter’s son from Nazareth was a blasphemer and a threat to their way of life. They cast Him away on a cross and stuck Him in a tomb believing their righteousness prevailed over His blasphemy and over what they saw as His demonic power to perform miracles. They judged Him guilty, though He was innocent. They released a murderer to crucify the King of the Jews.

It is this false conviction of Christ that delivers you comfort. All of this horrible suffering was in your place in order to let you go free. Christ dies for your sin. Christ’s righteousness covers you. Christ’s judgment is for you to live with Him for all eternity. The Holy Spirit comes after Christ’s ascension to proclaim this Truth to the world that put Christ to death only to see Him rise from the dead. When Jesus returns to judge the living and the dead, this three-fold conviction will be pronounced once again. In that day you will rejoice and the world will groan with sorrow. That is why Jesus says, He will glorify Me, for He will take what is Mine and declare it to you.

Today the Spirit working in the Word of Christ declares to you that you have been judged worthy of everlasting life. You are washed and sanctified in baptismal waters. You are fed with the life-giving eternal Word that proclaims Jesus Christ as triumphant victor over sin and death. You are not guilty before God’s tribunal because Jesus was judged guilty in your place. You are free. The world and those who despise the Lord Christ will be destroyed. You will be spared all this torment. Behold, God is my salvation, says Isaiah, I will trust, and will not be afraid; for the LORD GOD is my strength and my song, and He has become my salvation.

How shall we sing the LORD’s song in a foreign land? O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth shall declare your praise. The Holy Spirit puts the Word in your mouth to declare His praise. The Word of Christ dwells in you richly when you hear Him, eat Him, drink Him, sing His praises, and rest in His abiding love for you. Though you are a sinner, your sin is forgiven in His blood and righteousness. You can’t help but sing a new song to the Lord, for He has revealed His righteousness to you in the sight of the nations. All the ends of the earth will gnash their teeth, but you keep singing because Christ being raised from the dead will never die again; death no longer has dominion over Him.

How shall we sing the LORD’s song in a foreign land? Ask Him to teach you in His Word. Watch what happens next when you do, for your lips will declare where true joys are found. Believe it for Jesus’ sake.

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

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