Some people have really hard jobs to do.
You might think about people like the US President,
or justices of the Supreme Court.
You might picture heads of Fortune 500 companies,
or world-class professional athletes.
Famous jobs like those can be hard to do,
but how about your jobs?
Being a Mom or a Dad is a 24/7 duty,
and at times, it has impossible combinations of challenges.
Meeting the expectations upon a student at school is hard,
when they pile up from so many unconnected people.
Many regular occupations have such big, difficult projects
that you can only see the small steps before you.
But one of the hard roles can be that of a Christian.
We often don’t even realize, or think about it,
but the Christian life involves everything,
and there is hostile resistance from every quarter.
And through all of this, we don’t see Jesus,
so it may seem that the full weight rests upon you.
But it doesn’t. Jesus has sent someone to manage everything.
The Helper from Jesus can do it all.
So that you (His Church) are not alone in the world.
So that He gives you the advantage over your foes.
“But now I go away 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 depart, I will send Him to you. And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: of sin, because they do not believe in Me; of righteousness, because I go to My Father and you see Me no more; of judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged. I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you. All things that the Father has are Mine. Therefore I said that He will take of Mine and declare it to you.”
Last week’s Gospel lesson comes right after this one.
There, Jesus told us we will have sorrow,
because we will not see him for “a little while.”
Some of you have experienced that transition,
from living at home with your parents
to living elsewhere, on your own in the world.
You may recall what that was like.
For some, it’s the first year or two of college.
For others, it’s moving far away for work,
or to put together a new family for yourself..
But it’s a stressful transition for everyone,
even for Jesus’ disciples to hear about.
Jesus said to His disciples,
But now I go away 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.
Children don’t like to be separated from their parents,
and disciples don’t like to be separated from their teacher.
Yet here we are, and He is clearly not with us.
(He is here in other ways, but He’s hidden.)
It seems as though Jesus has left His Church behind.
But His comfort today is that He did not.
He said, if I do not go away,
the Helper will not come to you;
but if I depart, I will send Him to you
Who is the “Helper?”
That word is sometimes taken directly from Greek into English,
as the word “Paraclete.”
In other Greek writing, it usually refers to an attorney,
someone who stands beside you in a court of law.
You might also call him an Advocate, or Counselor.
As Jesus is our High Priest and mediator between God and man,
now He has sent a Specialist to finish His work with us.
We usually call Him the Holy Spirit.
Now, what does the Holy Spirit do for you?
Do you even know what you would expect Him to do?
Some people expect Him to perform showy miracles,
or to introduce novel doctrines, different from what we knew.
But Jesus mentions two things in our text.
He convicts the world, and He guides the Church.
In all of that, He always glorifies Jesus,
teaching only what Jesus Himself has also taught.
Now, when the Holy Spirit convicts the world,
that’s good news for Christ’s Church on Earth.
The world is one of our three dire enemies,
together with the devil and the sinful flesh still within us.
Jesus says our Helper convicts the world
of sin, because they do not believe in Me.
If it were your task to convict your heathen neighbors,
so that their hearts could recognize their sin,
then it would never be done.
Our Helper does it instead, by the spoken and written Word.
It’s also His work when you are convicted by God’s Law,
and when you are brought to repentance.
You may think it was your decision,
but it takes God’s own power to make it happen.
Jesus also says our Helper convicts the world
of righteousness, because I go to My Father
and you see Me no more.
How does a sinner become clean and righteous?
In a way, we never do, as long as we live.
Yet the Holy Spirit in His Word and in the Sacraments
can bestow faith to trust in God’s forgiveness.
So even though we don’t see Jesus, our risen Redeemer,
by the power of our Helper, He draws you to Himself,
and you trust that Jesus’ righteousness applies to you.
Finally, our heavenly Helper convicts the world
of judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.
Though pop culture is in the gutter,
though we tend to be driven by our bellies more than reason,
and though reason itself can be twisted to serve evil,
yet God’s moral judgment remains true and unyielding.
That may drive some people bonkos,
but the Word of the Lord stands forever.
Right is always right, and wrong is always wrong.
It’s the Holy Spirit who makes it stick.
So no, Jesus has not left you alone in the world.
The Helper He has sent can do it all.
Our Helper also gives you the advantage over your foes.
One of your foes is the world around us,
and we’ve already seen how He deals with that.
But as the world also exists in your sinful flesh,
the Helper’s work becomes very personal.
Jesus called Him the Spirit of Truth,
because He guides you into all truth.
We’re tempted to look for His working in our feelings,
like Obi-Wan Kenobi teaching Luke on the Millennium Falcon.
Can the Holy Spirit affect the way you feel? Certainly.
But He’s called the Spirit of Truth.
Feelings are neither true nor false.
Truth depends upon statements and words.
So if you want to find the guidance of the Holy Spirit,
don’t pose your body and chant “Ohms,”
waiting for some sensation of peace and enlightenment.
The work and enlightenment of the Spirit of Truth
are found in His Word of Truth.
Let that resonate through your soul,
and He will not fail to do His work in your life.
But it may not be what you expected.
for He will not speak on His own authority,
but whatever He hears He will speak;
and He will tell you things to come.
Our Helper works through a Word that is already revealed.
He inspired it through the pens of the apostles and prophets.
But now, it’s been printed in a thousand tongues,
so that what He teaches will not be new.
If you have a Bible in your home,
then you have the living instrument of the Holy Spirit.
Where the Spirit goes in the world, He brings it.
And wherever we bring the Holy Scriptures, He’s at work.
His work begins in you personally,
comes when He convicts you of your sins.
It can happen many times over,
because you’re not always fully aware of your sins,
yet unless God forgives them, you will pay with your life.
Do you always speak to others in Christian love?
But your tongue, your eyes, and your ears have wandered.
Your hands have also done harm.
These days, much of the evil we may do is online.
Without leaving your chair, you can see what you should not;
you can listen to blasphemous things;
you can say (maybe by posting) hurtful or lewd things.
You may communicate more openly with the world
than you do with your own spouse, or family.
Do you recognize these wrongs you have done?
If so, then the Helper has shown them to you,
and He would bring you to repent before God, and be done.
Because when you repent, then He does His proper work.
The Spirit of Truth speaks forgiveness,
again as the very Word of God.
You hear it from the voice of one like me,
a fellow sinner called by God to speak His Word.
It’s my weak voice, but it’s your Helper’s Word:
you are forgiven through the blood of Jesus Christ.
The guilt you carry, and your sinful flesh are your closest foes,
but God’s forgiveness takes away all their power.
Nothing can prevent you from entering eternal life,
because now the righteousness of Jesus Himself is yours,
imputed to you not by your works, but by faith in Him.
And so the Helper’s work on your behalf even answers Satan.
The devil tempts you. He works to make your conscience unclean,
because if he can make you doubt God’s forgiveness,
then he may even rob you of eternal life.
But when you feel his temptations or malice,
it proves to you that his work is not done,
and you still belong to Jesus.
Moreover, you can return to the Word of Truth,
where the Spirit of Truth can grant you peace.
Yes, the Church of Jesus Christ on Earth has strong enemies,
but we have a stronger Helper in the Spirit of Truth.
By His work, you live in your Baptism.
By His work, you know and listen to your Savior.
By His work, you have the advantage over your foes,
and you certainly do not stand alone.
So you have strong enemies. So you don’t see Jesus yet.
You will see Him,
and right now, you have all you need in your Helper.
Take heart, O Bride of Christ:
your sins are forgiven, and He has not left you alone.
Soli Deo Gloria