St. John 16: 5-15
May 2, 2021 A+D
In the Name of the Father and of the +Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Christ proclaims the purpose of His departure from the world when 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 depart, I will send Him to you.” (John 16:7, NKJV) Christ departs in order to send the Holy Spirit.
This departure is His suffering and death. He departs from this world by being lifted up on a pole as a sacrifice. He goes away from the disciples to do what no mere man could do: make atonement for fallen humanity. He answers for our sins and completes all the promises and prophecies of Scripture. He fulfills every iota of the Law and removes all iniquity from us. That finished, on the third day, He comes out of the grave alive and goes to the Father, as a Man, for us, to be our Advocate. And from there, from the Father, He sends the Spirit to proclaim and deliver Him to us. This is the purpose of His going away. It is most certainly to our advantage.
The Spirit whom He sends is the Spirit of Truth, the Comforter. His convicts the world of sin and of righteousness and of judgment. Of sin because they do not believe in Christ. This is His first comfort. He pulls back the veneer and makes the diagnosis. Unbelief is the source and wellspring of sin. All sins commit this sin first. Its fruit is idolatry, self-worship and self-centeredness, contempt of God and His Word, resistance to Divine Truth, lust for pleasure, and an insistence that one’s passions are the standard of what is good . All that hurts us and all of it, all our errors and harmful behaviors are found in this: lack of faith in Christ.
Repent. Now you know the truth. You have not feared, loved, and trusted in God above all things. That truth frees you from scurrying after anything else.
The Spirit’s next comfort follows directly: He convicts of righteousness. If you want to be saved, to be righteous, if you want relief from the dissatisfactions and pain of this broken world, if you want freedom from yourself and your sin, believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, who for your sake was made Man, was crucified, died, and was buried, who rose again from the dead. His grace is sufficient for you. He comes in peace to redeem you from this body of sin and your own most grievous faults and to make you His own.
RIGHTEOUSNESS EXPLAINED – GREAT EXCHANGE, TAKING AND DECLARING
The Spirit convicts of righteousness to comfort Christian hearts in precisely this way: He declares that all things that are Christ’s and the Father’s are now theirs. Yours. It was all His. He made it. But the Liar pretended that he had it. He forced God’s hand. For God had said that it was good. By claiming it as his own, the Liar proclaimed that it wasn’t good. And if that had stood, then God would be a liar like him. So God bought back by Blood what was His by right. He, the Creator, became a Creature, and He, the Law-giver, was born under the Law to fulfill the Law, and He, who is the Living God, died and rose from the dead to pay for what He already owned, only to give it all away, to declare it to be ours. We are righteous in the sight of God because Jesus goes to the Father. This is the work of the Spirit and the purpose of Christ’s departure from this world.
Lastly, the Spirit comforts by convicting the world of judgment. The Liar’s mouth is shut. He lies no more. He accuses no more. He rules no more. Eve cannot steal what was bought for her and handed over by grace as a gift. All that is the Father’s and the Son’s, holiness, righteousness, and innocence; the tree of life, the sea of glass, and the gates of pearl; everything from paradise, all of the new heavens and the new earth, everything that is God’s by right and by purchase of Blood, even one another, everything that is His is declared now to be Adam’s and Eve’s, and of all those who believe, which is to say, yours.
SUMMARY OF CONVICTION
You are the heirs of God, the meek who gain the earth, the sons who bow before the greater Joseph, once reluctantly from fear and hunger, convicted of sin because we did not believe in Him, but who now as the righteous, who see Him for what He is, who bow in joy and confidence, the forgiven. We know He is God and He is Man, Christ Our Lord, for us. He sits at the Father’s right hand so that we, His brothers and sisters, would be given dominion over all that is His. The devil cannot have us or anything else. He is judged. For whatever is the Father’s is the Son’s, and the Spirit takes it all and declares it to be yours. That is certainly to your advantage.
SPEAKS WHAT HE HEARS IN HIS WORD
All of this the Spirit does through the Word. He does not speak of His own authority, but He does speak. He speaks what He hears through the Apostles and prophets that He has inspired to write. Thus the Word of God is how the Spirit guides us into all truth, teaching us, bit by bit, as we can bear it, all the things that Jesus has to say to us, preparing us for the end by telling us of things to come.
We ask the confirmands today if they still hold to the faith into which they have been baptized. We ask them if they believe in the Holy Trinity and renounce the devil. And then we ask them if they hold all the prophetic and apostolic Scriptures to be the inspired Word of God and the doctrine of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, drawn from the Scriptures, as it is taught in the Small Catechism, to be faithful and true, and whether or not they intend to continue in that Word and confession, continuously hearing the Word and receiving the Lord’s Supper according to its institution, even if it is costly or requires them to die. And though they are but children, they say yes to all of it. And so do we, children of God with them. There is nothing more to being a Christian than that. Everything else that goes on in the Church, including all ceremonies, social activities, and building maintenance, must be in support of this – that by Word and Sacrament the Spirit convicts us of sin and righteousness, exposes the devil for who he is, and leads us to all truth.
He who has ears to hear, let him hear.
In +Jesus’ Name. Amen.