11 May 2010

John 16:5-11

"And when he comes he will prove the world wrong about sin and righteousness and judgement." (v.8)


When Jesus told the disciples that he would be leaving them sorrow filled their hearts. They were unable to ask anything about where Jesus was going because they were so immersed in their own grief. But Jesus assured them that his departure was not all bad news. The good news was that, after he had gone, he would be able to send them "the Advocate" - the Holy Spirit.

Whilst Jesus was physically present on earth the disciples were very dependent on him. They could go running to him with all their problems and questions. When he was no longer with them they would have to take full responsibility themselves for their mission and ministry. The Holy Spirit would continue to provide the guidance and support which Jesus had offered but in a different way. The disciples would have to seek out that spiritual strength and knowledge from within themselves rather than from an external source.

Jesus said that the Holy Spirit would prove the world wrong about three things: sin, righteousness and judgement. The Jewish religious leaders condemned Jesus for mixing with sinners and breaking the laws. The Holy Spirit proved that it is actually they who are the sinners for rejecting Jesus and not believing in him. Similarly, the Jewish religious leaders thought that they were the righteous ones, but the resurrection of Jesus proved that it is in fact he who is "the Holy and Righteous One" (Acts 3:14). The resurrection also proved that "the ruler of this world" - meaning Satan - was not the judge but the condemned.

Jesus gave the disciples cause for joy and hope in the midst of their sorrow and despair. He helped them to see that his impending departure was not the end but a new beginning. The coming of the Holy Spirit would transform both them and the world.

To Ponder

Who or what provides spiritual direction for you?

When has someone's departure or absence caused you to take on more responsibility? How did that make you feel?

As you look at the world today, where can you see signs of hope in the midst of despair?

Bible notes author

The Revd Nicola Vidamour

Nicola is a Methodist minister, currently serving two churches in East Ham, London. Before taking up this appointment, Nicola spent six years as the associate pastor of Pskov United Methodist Church in Russia.