John 16:5-15 The Ministry of the Helper WC McCarter
I would like to pose a question here at the beginning and then lead you through the answer as we go through today’s text. When is it that Jesus gives the Great Commission? It is given after the crucifixion and resurrection as He leaves this world to return to the Father. Now, is that before or after the discussion in the Upper Room? Obviously, it is afterward. So, here is the tough question, why is it that Jesus says the world will hate you on this night, but later He commands the disciples to go into all the world to make disciples? Why does Jesus pose to them a mission impossible? How is it that they will make any leeway in the world if the world is going to hate and persecute them? How did the Gospel message ever survive the first century and even until now? How is it that we have come to know the Gospel of Jesus Christ?
Jesus told the disciples, as we saw last week, that He was sending the Holy Spirit to testify alongside His disciples. Believers are told to bear witness to Christ, but they are not alone because the Holy Spirit will also bear witness. In today’s text, Jesus promises even more from the ministry of the Helper. He says that the Spirit will convict the world. This is how Gospel progress is made in the world. This is a message that has really spoken to me. I have been thinking recently of the future of the church in America, and I have wondered if we will be able to make any kind of progress for the Gospel.
***This is what I have found to be promised: there will always be progress made for the cause of Christ because the Holy Spirit has been sent into the world to testify of Christ and convict the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment.***
Take a look with me at today’s passage, John 16:5-15. Let’s claim our promises and, as Deut 31:6 says, “Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the Lord your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you.”
READ Scripture- This is the Word of God
Now I Go Away (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 cannot 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. The last time they even attempted to ask about Jesus’ leaving was back in 14:22. “There was little concern about his future; they were interested mainly in their own future” (Tenney, 156).
It Is to Your Advantage (7-11)
Jesus now turns to the help the disciples will have in this world. 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. He does this through Christ’s faithful disciples. Just like we bear witness to Christ and so does the Spirit, so, too, the Spirit convicts the world through our ministries. Jesus has already determined the meaning of the word “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 as we saw in the previous text. 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.
#1 Convict the world of sin . . . they do not believe in Me (9).
First, 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.
#2 Convict the world of righteousness . . . I go to My Father and you see Me no more (10).
Second, 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).
#3 Convict the world of judgment . . . the ruler of this world is judged (11).
Third, 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. This is how the Gospel gets any traction at all. This is how we have all come to the faith. We have been convicted by the Holy Spirit, and there are some of you here who have not been convicted by the Holy Spirit. I pray that He would work in your life today.
He Will Tell You Things (12-13)
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.
He Will Glorify Me (14-15)
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!
Conclusion and Christian Application
(1) 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.
(2) 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.