Home > Easter > Conviction and Consolation. Cantate 2014.

Conviction and Consolation. Cantate 2014.


cranach luther preaching pope in hellCantate, 5th Sunday of Easter

St. Peter Lutheran Church, Joliet

St. John 16:5-15

May 18, 2014

Conviction and Consolation

 

Iesu Iuva!

 

Beloved in Christ:

 

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

 

Conviction and consolation.  Those are two works of the Helper Jesus promises in the Gospel for today.

 

The Gospel begins with anguish in the hearts of the disciples.  Jesus is talking with them after they have left the upper room where they have eaten the Sacrament of Jesus body and blood for the first time.

 

“Now I am going to the one who sent Me,” Jesus is saying. “But none of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’”  This is a happy time, Jesus is saying, even though I won’t be with you visibly anymore.

 

But if I was one of them I’m sure I wouldn’t have felt happy.  Even if I could get my head around the thought that Jesus was going to the Father.  I get sad just thinking about what it must have been like for the disciples.

 

And then when one remembers what they had to see later, it’s even worse.  After falling asleep when they were supposed to be praying with Him, they wake up to see an armed mob coming to take Him away.  Then one of his own disciples, Judas, comes and gives Jesus a kiss and they grab him and drag him off with clubs and weapons to try Him in front of His enemies and put Him to a bloody death.

 

But besides the grief, there would also be fear.

 

What are we going to do if Jesus is not with us?

 

And isn’t that just how we feel in the church now whenever things aren’t going so well?  If only we could see Jesus and be assured that He still loves us and is protecting us and that we didn’t forsake Him somewhere back in the journey!

 

But Jesus says to the 11 who are scared and heavy with grief, “Nevertheless, I tell you the truth, 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.”

 

I think I have probably met very few Christians who believe very firmly what Jesus says here—that it’s better for us now than if Jesus was visibly present like He was with His disciples.  It’s hard for me not to think it would be better to have Jesus’ visible presence than to have what we do have—the Holy Spirit present in the Word and Sacraments, and dwelling within us.

 

But Jesus says what we have now is better.  So the thought that Jesus’ visible presence is better than the Spirit’s presence in Word and Sacrament and in the bodies of believers is not a thought that comes from Jesus.  It is not from the Spirit of Truth but the spirit of the world, the spirit of lies.

 

It is very understandable that we are tempted to believe that having Jesus visible presence would be better—or some other visible proof of His presence, like a big congregation or plenty of money in the bank, or miracles, even, or just “the feeling” that God is at work among us.

 

It’s understandable that we feel that way, but it is nonetheless the reasoning of our sinful flesh which opposes the wisdom of God.  Here we have in plain English Jesus telling us that it is better for us if He goes away and sends the Holy Spirit who comes to us in the word and Sacraments, but we say, “No, Jesus is mistaken.  We need some visible proof that He is with us.”

 

Repent.  You don’t know better than Jesus.

 

“When He comes,” says our Lord, “He will convict the world.”  “He will guide you into all the truth.”  “He will declare what is to come.”

 

The Holy Spirit will bring conviction and consolation.  He will do what no visible proofs of Jesus’ presence can do—He will bring conviction to the world—summon it to court and declare a verdict on it—through the Church.

 

And He will console us.  He will take from what is Christ’s—all things—and declare it to us, because what is Christ’s is ours.  And He will declare what is to come to us.  We will not be left blind orphans.  The Holy Spirit will comfort us by leading us into all truth.

 

  1. Conviction

    First of all, the Spirit brings conviction. “When He comes, He will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment.”

     

    Notice: not, “He will please the world.” Not, “He will win over the world and make the world like you.”

     

    He will convict the world. He will bring conviction whether the world wants to accept it or not.

     

    Concerning sin, because they do not believe in Me.

     

    Through the Church the Holy Spirit will call the whole world to account and convince it of its sin. Why? Because it does not know the true God. It does not want to know Him because it refuses to believe in Jesus Christ. As a result the world with its best morality and greatest achievements consists of nothing but damned sinners who have rejected the true God.

     

    No wonder the world hates Christ and His Church; they bring such a damning accusation. Sometimes the world hates Christians when they aren’t saying anything, because just their existence is a walking reminder that everyone outside of Christ is sinful and condemned.

     

    But the Holy Spirit is not just a silent witness. He preaches the holy law of God through the Church, which requires that we love God above all things and our neighbor as ourselves—and this not only in pretense, but from the heart. And human beings can’t do this. So the Holy Spirit with divine power convicts the whole world that it is stubble to be consumed by the fire of God’s righteous wrath.

     

    Concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, where you will see me no more.

     

    When Jesus was visibly present on earth, the world could see His righteousness for itself. Even the centurion at Jesus’ crucifixion said, “This truly was a righteous man.” Jesus was the one man who was not guilty of any sin. But now Jesus is at the right hand of the father. His righteousness is not available to the eyes of man.

     

    But the Holy Spirit will convince the world of Jesus’ righteousness. First, that He was not like other men who die because like all men they are sinful and moral. He was righteous. But secondly the Holy Spirit will convict sinners who have no righteousness of their own that Jesus righteousness is not His own but ours. He who was born of a virgin, crucified and died for our sins, was also raised from the dead for our justification and is at the right hand of God interceding for us.

     

    Jesus our righteousness is no longer visible to our eyes because He has accomplished our righteousness by paying for our sins in His death and being raised from the dead as the proof that our sins have been put away. He reigns at the right hand of God over the whole earth for the benefit of His church.

     

    Concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.

     

    For centuries, Satan held the world under his rule by blackmail. He slandered God, as He did to Eve in the garden. He said, “God isn’t good. God holds back good things from you because He knows that you’ll become equal to Him.” Then when Satan seduces someone into sin by his slander of God, he blackmails and accuses. “You’re damned. God will never accept you. You’d better not try to serve Him. You’ll just end up unhappy and you’ll still be condemned.”

     

    But now the ruler of this world has been judged. His slander against God has been silenced because God has given what is most precious for us and to us—His only Son. And Satan’s blackmail against us has also been judged. He can no longer accuse us because our sin has been paid for with Jesus’ blood.

     

    But this witness of the Spirit concerning judgment is terrifying to the servants of the ruler of this world. It means that the time is almost up for them too, when Jesus returns to defend those who are His and to cast out of His kingdom the devil and all who preferred to have the devil as their lord.

     

    Jesus promises that the Holy Spirit will convict the world. That is the power of the Word that the Holy Spirit preaches—it convinces the world of sin and judgment, and that Jesus is righteous. It is what makes the church grow, because it convinces helpless sinners of the truth—that Christ is their righteousness, and He appears before the Father for them.

     

    The Holy Spirit does this powerful work of convicting the world even while the church looks weak and unsuccessful.

     

    It has nothing to do with visible effectiveness. It has to do with power. The power of God.

     

    The Holy Spirit conceived Jesus in the womb of the virgin and raised Jesus from the dead. No one saw or heard the Spirit do these things and yet they were done, miracles more powerful than any human being would dream of doing.

     

    The Spirit also works miracles like these when through the preaching of the truth He convicts the world.

     

  2. Consolation

     

    Secondly, the Holy Spirit, Jesus says, will bring consolation. He will comfort us when we don’t have the visible presence of Jesus anymore. The Holy Spirit will give something better than visible signs, our Lord promised His disciples before He was taken away from them.

     

    “He will lead you into all the truth.” The Church isn’t left to find its own way. We aren’t left to depend on our brains to figure out the Bible. We aren’t abandoned by Jesus so that we have to hire consultants from the world to teach us how to make His church grow, or else Jesus’ church will die.

     

    The Holy Spirit will guide the church into all the truth. Because the Holy Spirit will do that we can and should and must discern between Christ’s true teaching and the deceptions of Satan. The idea that we can’t really know Christ’s word in all that He has revealed is simply a denial of these words of Christ. It is very true that we can’t get it all right. “But the Spirit of truth… will lead you into all the truth.” That is why we can and should say with confidence—Thus saith the Lord. We are not permitted to tolerate tampering with God’s Word, even by Christians who are devout and sincere in other respects. To knowingly have fellowship with false teaching, false worship, is to resist the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth, the Helper.

     

    He consoles us because He assures us of the truth, that we have it and walk in it.

     

    But Jesus adds more consolation—“He will declare to you the things to come…He will take what is mine and declare it to you.”

     

    Our Lord Jesus is the Lord of everything present and everything to come. He is the one who is worthy to open the seals of the scroll in Revelation. He is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the en.

     

    He sends the Holy Spirit to His church to tell us what is to come. Because He si the light, He does not let His church walk in darkness. He reveals to us what is to come so that we are not groping around blind, but we know what is coming.

     

    And that is how it is for you when you hold to the world in which the Holy Spirit speaks. It doesn’t mean that you know how every event in the near future is going to turn out. But you know how all things are going to turn out. Because all things are Christ’s –the future, life, death. All things that are the Father’s are His.

     

    The Helper, the Spirit of Truth, makes them known to us. He declares them to us. Because all things are yours, you who believe in Christ. In Him all things were created. All things hold together in Him; all things are for Him, and He redeemed all things with His blood.

     

    And He is yours.

     

    The Holy Spirit tells us what He hears from the Father and the Son because all things—even the mysteries hidden from eternity—are ours in Christ. So the Spirit doesn’t conceal what He hears from the Father and the Son.

     

    He consoles and comforts us with the truth. All things belong to Christ and they belong to us in Him. We suffer with Him now but we will also be glorified with Him.

     

    Can you see your head?

     

    You can’t, can you? We in the church can’t see our head, Jesus, either. It is because Jesus didn’t leave us. He ascended and came nearer to us. He became the head and made us members of His body.

     

    And because we are members of His body we share His one Spirit.

     

    And so “it is more advantageous” for us that He go away—because when He was taken away to Caiaphas He was going away to our judgment and death, to become one with us that we might become one with Him. Because we are one, He gives us His Spirit—the Spirit who convicts the world and consoles us.

     

    May the mighty Spirit present in Word and Sacrament and in us be more joy and treasure to us than lal the glory and wealth of the ungodly.

     

     

    Soli Deo Gloria

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