Loving Father, may I have the power to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge (Ephesians 3:18-19).
“But now I am going to him who sent me; yet none of you asks me,
‘Where are you going?’ But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your hearts. Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. And when he comes,
he will prove the world wrong about sin and righteousness and judgement: about sin, because they do not believe in me; about righteousness
because I am going to the Father and you will see me no longer; about judgement, because the ruler of this world has been condemned.”
A mentor once reminded me that before we talk to people about God we need to talk to God about people. That is because of the crucial work of the Holy Spirit in helping us to tell people about Jesus. We can witness to Christ, who He is and what He has done for us, but only the Spirit can convince.
In today’s scripture Jesus promises to send the Holy Spirit to help His followers bear witness to Jesus. The Holy Spirit will be a Christian’s Advocate, or Paraclete, a Greek word meaning “a person called alongside to help”. Warren Wiersbe points out that the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, is sent to believers and not to the world. He will do His work through believers:
“The Holy Spirit does not minister in a vacuum. Just as the Son of God had to have a body in order to do His work on earth, so the Spirit of God needs a body to accomplish His ministries; and that body is the church… The Holy Spirit works through the people in whom He lives.” (Warren Wiersbe, Be Transformed: John 13-21)
This is a concerted ministry of the Holy Spirit and believers testifying together about Jesus. The Advocate comes alongside to make our testimony effective in the lives of people. For example, it was the Holy Spirit who came alongside a wavering, hesitant Peter and empowered him to be a powerful witness to Jesus.
Jesus says the Spirit’s ministry through His followers “will prove the world wrong about sin and righteousness and judgement.” Bible translators struggle to find just the right word to communicate the Greek word translated here as “prove wrong”. This is seen in various translations of the Greek word elenxei:
- “convince the world” (Revised Standard Version)
- “reprove the world” (King James Version)
- “convict the world” (New King James Version)
- “convince the world the meaning of” (J. B. Phillips Translation)
- “expose the error of the godless world’s view” (The Message)
As we talk to people about Jesus, it is the Holy Spirit who works in their hearts to point them to repentance. The Holy Spirit can take our lives and words to present “the truth of the case in dispute in a clear light…so that it must be seen and acknowledged as truth.” (B.F. Westcott, The Gospel According to St. John) The pressure is off! None of us can convince, argue, persuade, or coax a person to put trust in Jesus; the Holy Spirit does that as we bear witness to Christ! This is the amazing grace of which people joyfully sing: “‘Twas grace that taught my heart to fear, / And grace my fears relieved; / How precious did that grace appear / The Hour I first believed.” (John Newton, “Amazing Grace”)
- How might knowing about this ministry of the Holy Spirit relieve me of anxiety in talking to people about Jesus?
- Who are people I want to talk to God about before I talk to them about God?
O most merciful Redeemer, Friend and Brother, may I know Thee more clearly, love Thee more dearly, and follow Thee more nearly, day by day.
Richard of Chichester (1197-1253)