Summary: Jesus does not leave us alone when he ascends to the Father. He sends us his spirit to enlighten us, sanctify us,and enable us to minister.
John 15:26-27, 16:4b-15 “The Spirit’s Ministry”
Between the first Easter and his ascension, Jesus appeared to his disciples and to over five hundred others who became eye-witnesses to his resurrection. We do not know much of what Jesus said or did during those forty days. We assume that Jesus continued to comfort his disciples with the assurance that when he left them he would not leave them alone but would send them the Holy Spirit.
During the celebration of Pentecost ten days after his ascension, Jesus fulfilled his promise. God sent the Holy Spirit upon the disciples and the Christian Church was born. Today we celebrate this event that occurred over two thousand years ago. An event that not only changed the lives of the disciples, but the entire world, and has forever had an impact upon us, also.
Our celebration will include singing great songs, and enjoying what the Holy Spirit has done among us. We want to go deeper, though, than allowing it to be limited to a one day event. We want to discover how the Holy Spirit moves and how we live in as people indwelt by the Spirit.
The Bible pictures the Holy Spirit in many ways. In Genesis the Spirit is seen as form brooding over the face of the earth. At the baptism of Jesus, the Spirit appeared as a dove. A later chapter in John has Jesus breathing the Spirit in to the disciples. The second chapter in Acts is the passage most often associated with Pentecost. In that chapter the Spirit is evident as a mighty wind and as flames of fire.
We are surprised and shocked when we read in John chapter fifteen that Jesus identifies the Spirit as the Paraclete, or Advocate. In other words as a lawyer. Somehow, lawyers and the Godhead don’t seem at all connected.
Another name for a lawyer is “mouth piece,” and that seems to be the role of the Holy Spirit in this context. We’ve all watched “Perry Mason,” “Boston Legal,” or “Legally Blonde,” and we know what lawyers do in the courtroom. They speak to the judge and jury while their client sits quietly by their side. The Spirit will speak for Jesus and testify on his behalf. The Spirit will speak the truth and lead the church in truth.
The Spirit will take what is Jesus’ and communicate it to his followers and to the world. Jesus was no longer able to be with his disciples, but he knew they could not exist alone. Jesus sent his Spirit to take his place. Like any good lawyer, the Spirit represents Jesus to his followers and the world.
AT WORK IN THE CHURCH
In describing what the Spirit will do, Jesus says, “When he comes, he will prove the world wrong about sin, and righteousness and judgment: about sin, because they do not believe in me; about righteousness, because I am going to the Father and you will see me no longer; about judgment because the ruler of this world has been condemned” (John 16:8-11).
These are difficult words to understand and theologians still discuss what they mean. I think that Jesus is saying that when the Spirit comes he will point to the cross of Christ—first to the Christians and then to the world.
• The Spirit will point to the cross to tell the world about sin. All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. Each and every one of us have rebelled against God and damaged our relationship with God. But Jesus died for our sins to provide forgiveness for us and to restore us to a relationship with God.
• The Spirit will point to the cross and tell the world about righteousness. The Spirit will point out that righteousness does not come from being good people, or by being successful, powerful, or affluent. Righteousness is a gift that comes through the cross of Christ. We are cleansed and seen as righteous because the righteousness of Jesus Christ covers us.
• The Spirit will point to the cross and proclaim to the world the judgment of God. We are judged not by our grade point average, or our accomplishments. We are judged by what Jesus has done for us. He has taken our judgment upon himself.
The Spirit first moves in the lives of God’s people. He convicts us of our sin, and convinces us of our savior. The Spirit then assures us of God’s judgment and justice. There will be a time when justice for all will be a reality. The message spoken to them by the Spirit is repeated and shared with others by the people of God.
It is just as surprising to us when Jesus says that it will be to our advantage for him to leave us. I’m sure that the disciples were shock. They were going to be separated from Jesus. Jesus’ words caused them grief and fear. But, Jesus was right.