The Holy Spirit bears witness to and glorifies Jesus Christ, just as the followers of Jesus are to do.
One of the themes in Jesus’ Upper Room Discourse is the work of the Holy Spirit (the Advocate). And before diving into the passage it is worth reminding ourselves of what Jesus has said so far about the Advocate. Jesus will ask the Father to send “another Advocate” (14:16) who will be with the followers of Jesus forever. And the Spirit is a gift uniquely given to the followers of Jesus (14:17). The Advocate will remind the followers of Jesus of everything Jesus said (14:26). While the Advocate is uniquely given to the followers of Jesus, the Advocate will testify to the world on Jesus’ behalf (15:26). And so will the followers of Jesus testify to the world on Jesus behalf (15:27). Thus the Spirit fires the testimony of the followers of Jesus.
The passage before us draws those themes together as it opens with Jesus re-affirming that he is going away, but he promises to send the Advocate (Holy Spirit). The Spirit has three tasks to do in relation to the world, those who have not yet become followers of Jesus, proving to the world it is wrong about sin, righteousness and judgment. Sin is starkly defined here, “they do not believe in me.” To not believe in Jesus is sin. The Spirit confronts the world with the same choice that Jesus confronted the world with, “To follow Jesus or not follow Jesus.” And why follow Jesus? Because Jesus has been vindicated by God the Father, in the death and resurrection of Jesus God glorified the Son, proving that Jesus was right when he claimed to be the Son of God, “if you have seen me you have seen the Father” (14:9). As a result of Jesus’ vindication the ruler of this world (Satan) has been condemned. Satan is wrong in the lies proclaimed about Jesus. For Jesus is “the way and the truth and the life” no one enters into relationship with God except through Jesus (11:6).
The Spirit has only one goal to glorify the Son, Jesus. The Spirit does not speak or guide in a way inconsistent with the proclamation of the Father (“All that the Father has is mine” (16:15)) or the proclamation of Jesus, the Son, who speaks the Father’s words. The three are consistent in their message, the truth they speak. The Spirit’s goal is to guide people into the truth about Jesus.
The preacher has two points to make here. First, a test of whether something is from the Spirit of God or not is asking, “Does this word, idea, or action which claims to be rooted in the Spirit, glorify Jesus Christ?” If it does not, then it cannot be the work of the Spirit. The Spirit only does things which glorify Jesus, raise him up before the world. That leads directly to the second point.
With boldness the preacher can ask themselves and their hearers, “As a person who claims to have the Spirit in me, does my life, my words, my actions, glorify Jesus Christ?” The Spirit-filled life is a life that raises Jesus up before the world to be glorified.
“The point here is that the world in its judgment of Jesus, is allied with Satan, who provoked such an evaluation. Its judgment of Jesus is not only incorrect, it is immoral.” – Ben Witherington
“The power of the Spirit does not consist in secret and mystical revelations, but in the external preaching of the Gospel, which makes men revolt from the World and attaches them to the Church; and His action does not consist in delivering new truths to the disciples, but in providing a larger, deeper, and more perfect understanding of the teaching which Jesus had already given them….The sole work of the Spirit is the glorification of the Son, which is the glorification of the father (11:4; 12:23; 18:31-32).” – Edwin Clement Hoskyns
“Let’s get this clear in our heads: the Holy Spirit did not achieve the conversion of thousands of people from Pentecost onwards by reminding them of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, and urging them to reconsider it and try to put in into practice. Nor will the world today be converted through the preaching of Christian ethics, important as they are in their proper place. The message with the Holy Spirit preached was Christ Himself: His Person, His redeeming work, His death, resurrection, ascension, and eventual return.” – David Gooding
“I have decided to follow Jesus”
“Lord, speak to me that I may speak”
Here’s a prayer reflection on John 16:12-15 from Anne Osdieck and The Center for Liturgy Sunday Web Site.
(inspired by John 16: 12-15)
The Spirit of truth will guide you to all truth….
what will you tell us?
Before the mountains, stars, springs, and seas,
before the foundations of the earth,
you were there,
God as three
in the eternity
thank you for this gift of
(who gave us his Son),
(who gave us himself), and
(who lives in our hearts as our constant companion now)
You will guide us to the truth.
~ The Center for Liturgy Sunday Web Site. http://liturgy.slu.edu/TrinityC052613/prayerpathmain.html