But now I am going to him who sent me, and none of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’ But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart. 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. And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.
“I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you (John 16).
We Lutherans don’t spend a lot of time talking about the Holy Spirit and I think there is a good reason for it. I teach our confirmands that the Holy Spirit is not an ego-maniac. That is to say the Holy Spirit does not draw much attention to himself but speaks of another namely Jesus Christ Himself.
Jesus says tonight that the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. The Ministry of the Holy Spirit is really a teaching ministry. The Holy Spirit comes in the name of Jesus. Brings to remembrance all that Jesus has done and continues to do. The Holy Spirit teaches and preaches nothing except Christ and Him crucified. The Holy Spirit is a ministry of delivering the gifts of Jesus. The Holy Spirit is not an ego-maniac. The Holy Spirit is about Jesus. And Jesus alone.
Tonight Jesus teaches his disciples that he is going away – to be arrested, tried, and nailed to a tree. He will be buried. Raised on the third Day and will ascend to heaven 40 days later. Jesus is going away. But he is sending his holy Spirit.
When he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.
What does this mean? The Holy Spirit will convict the world of sin, because they do not believe in me. Unbelief is the root of all sin and rebellion against God. Unbelief is the origin of all pain and sorrow of all war, strife, and family feuds. Do you think society is the cause of all your problems? Do you think that your family problems are not your own doing. Or perhaps the church should bend to your own will. All of this is unbelief in God. And that is why we all need the Holy Spirit to convict us of our sin.
Hear the words of Holy Scripture. Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin (Romans 3:19-20).
What does this mean? Every mouth should stop flapping. All excuses must stop. All must stand guilty and hear God’s righteous judgment against sin. We are all condemned. We have sinned and fallen short. And the wages for sin is death.
But tonight Jesus brings us good news. In the final judgment and God’s tribunal. You have passed through judgment and into life. In the heavenly courtroom Jesus has taken your place. The gavel has come down. And the judge has pronounced you innocent for sake of his son. Your crimes are forgiven. You are set free by the blood of the cross.
Hear God’s Word recorded in Romans chapter 8: There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.
What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.
Did you hear that? There is no condemnation for you. Jesus has been condemned in death and vindicated in the resurrection. Repent of your unbelief and believe in Him. Dear Christian the Holy Spirit abides in you by virtue of your baptism. Hear the words of Jesus regarding the Holy Spirit: “He (that is the Holy Spirit) will take what is mine and declare it to you.” And what is it that belongs to Jesus? It is His Holiness, his righteousness, his perfect obedience to God. Although your sins stood against you – Jesus has stood in your place. And although you are impoverished when it comes to any righteousness – He simply gives it all to you by grace. All this is credited to your account freely – with no strings attached. He declares that his body is for you. He declares that his blood purifies you of all sins.
The Holy Spirit is not an ego-maniac. He’s not about helping himself but actually about helping you. Giving to you the things of the Kingdom of God. Giving you what you actually need. Not self-esteem, not ways to find empowerment, or 10 steps to a happier you. That’s for Oprah and Dr. Phil. No, what you need is Jesus – and that’s what the Holy Spirit wants to give you now. What you need is righteousness. You need the forgiveness of sins. You need life and salvation in this dying world – And that’s precisely what you have in Jesus.
Therefore our lives are different. You are children loved by God. You are God’s elect – His chosen ones – declared righteousness. You are destined for good things. This means you can lift our heads. And sing the liturgy like we mean it. Sing our hymns – knowing that our praises are joined by all the angels and saints in heaven.
We are a people who have been saved – and declared righteous before God. And there is nothing left to do except thank him and praise him. In the name of Jesus.