It is to Your Advantage
The previous chapter ended with Jesus speaking of the world’s hatred toward Him and His followers. This chapter begins with some of the actions that result from the world’s hatred. Jesus warns the disciples ahead of time so that when the persecution started they would remember that He had told them. We are also reminded that Jesus said all of these things while being present with those men, but He would be leaving. What may have been difficult for them to understand was that it was to their advantage (and ours) that Jesus would leave. It would mean that the Father’s plan had been fulfilled and that the Spirit had come to abide for the rest of the age.
READ Scripture- This is the Word of God
They Have Not Known the Father Nor Me [1-4]
Jesus continually states various reasons for saying all of these things. Here he gives another reason which is so that they may not stumble. This word “stumble” can be understood to mean “go astray,” but there are also elements of surprise and the sense of being trapped. Jesus tells His disciples these things so they are not caught off guard or find themselves in a trap and end up in apostasy, i.e. losing their faith. We can not even imagine the hardship they would face for believing on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. There would be no peace and joy from the world.
Jesus gives them a preview of what would come and says that they would be put out of synagogues and even killed “in service of God.” We know this to be true not only from secular history, but from our own biblical record. Saul of Tarsus, who became the Apostle Paul, was one of the fiercest persecutors of the early church. He was very busy dragging off men and women from their houses and synagogues and committing them to prison. He was consenting to the deaths of many including Stephen, the first recorded martyr. He did it all thinking that he was being obedient to the will of God. That is terrifying. Yet, the same is happening today all around the world. There are those who go out seeking to harm and even murder Christians in the name of “God.” This has happened in our own back yard, so can you imagine what it is like to be a Christian in a foreign country? Please pray for your brothers and sisters around the world. Pray that they will not be made to stumble, but will receive the distress in Jesus’ name.
Why will they do these things? They do not know the Father nor the Son. These things would happen because of an ignorance of God. This ignorance was not because they had not heard or read about God, but because they had not truly experienced Him. They had not been born again, but had relied on themselves, their own knowledge and thoughts. Check yourself this morning to make sure that you are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God is in you. Jesus explained it best in one line, “If therefore the light that is in you is darkness, how great is that darkness!” What the majority of first century Jews counted as light in their lives was actually darkness and how great was that darkness!
When the persecution came the disciples would remember what Jesus told them. He didn’t have to say this before because He was with them. While Jesus was with them He could absorb the attacks of the adversaries and provide guidance for His disciples. Now He is leaving.
Sorrow has Filled Your Heart [5-6]
The language of the first phrase in verse five is that of an ambassador returning to his commissioner after completing his charge. It is “now” that Jesus will return to the One who sent Him. We know who He is talking about. He speaks of the Father in heaven. There is a particular destination to which He will return. Jesus will not complete His task and then ride off into the sunset. He will go to the cross and say “It is finished,” rise from the dead three days later, and afterward ascend back to the right hand of the Father. In John 20:17, after the resurrection, Jesus says to Mary, “Go to My brethren and say to them, ‘I am ascending to My Father….”
The disciples are so sorrowful after hearing this news that they can not even ask the right questions. Jesus is fully aware of their grief and even says so. Yet, the disciples were so worried about their own well being that they had not truly inquired about Jesus’ destination. They may have asked this question before, but for only selfish reasons. They had not honestly asked about Jesus’ departure and destination. “There was little concern about his future; they were interested mainly in their own future” (Tenney, 156).
It is to Your Advantage [7-11]
“From the thought of the persecutions his followers must face [and the grief of the Master’s departing], Jesus turns to the resources available to them” (Morris, 617). Here is the truth: it is to their advantage that Jesus leaves. First, it would mean that the mission was accomplished. Second, it would mean that the Spirit was coming.
The Spirit will specifically convict the world of three things: sin, righteousness, and judgment. The word “world” must not mean “all people on earth” as it sometimes does because of the context. Jesus has already determined the meaning of “world” in the discourse when He contrasted the world with the disciples. The “world” must be unbelievers who by nature hate the Christ and His people. Thus, the Spirit’s ministry of conviction is spoken of here as being carried out in the world of unbelievers.
It is no mystery what Jesus describes the Spirit as doing. He explains for us the details of each part of the ministry throughout verses nine through eleven. First, in verse nine Jesus says that the Spirit will convict the world of sin “because they do not believe.” Notice that the word “sin” is singular. The Spirit is not said to convict unbelievers of all their sins, but of one sin in particular; the sin of unbelief. This is a serious and significant ministry because “blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven” (Matt 12:31). The Spirit declares the world “guilty” and applies that to the individual; otherwise we would never come to the realization that we are sinners. Second, in verse ten the Spirit is said to convict the world of righteousness because Jesus goes to His Father and will not be seen anymore. It is the Spirit’s task to convince people that their own righteousness is not sufficient in the eyes of God. The Spirit assures individuals that the righteousness of Christ is all that they need to be justified before God. This is righteousness: “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:21). Third, in verse eleven Jesus says that the Spirit convicts the world of judgment “because the ruler of this world is judged.” By laying down His life on the cross, Jesus would condemn once and for all the satanic rebellion. Satan has been judged and condemned permanently. Jesus did this by demonstrating perfect and complete obedience/faithfulness to the Father, even to the point of death.
“Sin, righteousness, and judgment are all to be understood because of the way they relate to the Christ” (Morris, 620). This is one of the major works of the Holy Spirit in the unbelieving world. He convicts the world because of the revelation of Christ Jesus.
The Spirit of Truth [12-15]
Many things are left unsaid because they can’t bear them at that point in time. Only so much can be said when someone is operating only by their emotions and these men were full of sorrow. During the Upper Room Discourse Jesus has focused on preparing His disciples for the more immediate future which would involve betrayal, denial, scattering, fear, false accusations, beatings, and murder. The disciples could only hear so many things that night and though many more details would be shared with them, now was not the place or time.
What they are promised is that the Spirit will say those necessary things later by guiding them into all truth. The Spirit is in perfect harmony with the Father and the Son. He will hear, speak, and tell things to come in accord with them. It is appropriate that the Spirit of Truth is the One who would be the guide who leads into “all truth.” You want a lawyer to lead you into the courtroom, a mechanic to take your car into the shop, a fireman to put out your fire, a doctor to care for you in the hospital and, let me assure you, you want the Spirit of Truth to lead you into all truth! Here is the authority for the New Testament writers to record Holy Scripture. The Spirit called to their remembrance and taught them all the things that Jesus said. The Holy Spirit led them into all truth as they recorded it in the New Testament.
Take note that the Spirit does not draw attention to Himself. Without fail He continuously points to Christ. He will glorify Christ in all that He does. There is no competition in the Persons of the Triune God. The Son willingly came to glorify the Father and the Spirit has willingly come to glorify the Son “that God may be all in all.” Therefore, be clear on this according to the word of the Lord: the Spirit does not attract attention to Himself, but to the Lord Jesus Christ.
In making Christ the center of attention, the Spirit takes of the things of Jesus and declares it to believers. These things are also the Fathers. Thus, we can say that the things of God are applied to believers by the Holy Spirit. What are the things of God? Some of these things have been mentioned in the Upper Room such as cleansing, a permanent home, the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, the words of the Lord, eternal peace, the love of Christ, fulfilling joy, and everlasting life. These are available because of the sacrifice of Christ on the tree. Romans 5:5 is a great illustration of what Jesus has said. The Apostle Paul asserts, “The love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” Day after day the Spirit declares to you the Good News that Christ has died for you. Christ has died for you!
It is to our advantage that Christ physically left His first disciples. Yes, they had sorrow in their hearts, but that sorrow was soon turned to joy when the Lord arose from the dead. The Spirit declared to them all the things of Christ and that message has been given to us that we may believe on His name and be saved. Be thankful today for the Spirit’s ministry in the lives of the Apostles and their faithfulness in the midst of a hateful world. They are the foundation of the church. The truth that the Spirit pressed upon them has been documented in this book called the Bible (including John). May the Spirit enlighten our hearts that we may understand it as well.