Do you ever notice, in the news, a report of a person who was convicted of a criminal offense but who was later proven to be innocent? That’s a shocking thing, isn’t it?
One of the Holy Spirit’s roles among humans is to expose just such a miscarriage of justice.
[Jesus said,’ But I am telling you the truth; it is better for you that I go away, because if I do not go, the Helper will not come to you. But if I do go away, then I will send him
And when he comes, he will prove to the people of the world that they are wrong about sin and about what is right and about God’s judgment.
They are wrong about sin, because they do not believe in me;
They are wrong about what is right, because I am going to the Father and you will not see me any more;
And they are wrong about judgment, because the ruler of this world has already been judged. John 16:7-11,
Good News Bible
You see, Jesus made spectacular claims. Here’s one.
‘I and the Father are one.’ John 10:30
Those listening to him picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus said to them, ‘I have shown you many good works from the Father. For which of these do you stone me?’
‘We are not stoning you for any good work,’ they replied, ‘but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God.’ John 16:31-34
Jesus’ listeners clearly rejected that spectacular claim.
The truth-prover, in the quote above, will prove people wrong about three things:
1. They are wrong about sin, because they do not believe in me. John 16:9
Sin, says Jesus, is not first of all murder, robbery or fraud. It’s a failure to believe that Jesus is who He claims to be, as did those who picked up stones to throw at Jesus. He claims to be God. That’s an outrageous claim
– unless it’s true.
2. They are wrong about what is right, because I am going to the Father and you will not see me any more. John 16:10
One scholar writes, “The language is obviously that of a courtroom….The case is clear: the world vs. Jesus of Nazareth. The facts are known: the world determined that Jesus was not from God. On the contrary, it seemed expedient
of the peace and stability of the nation that Jesus with his disturbing claims should be eliminated….In fact, that there was no divine intervention was persuasive argument that justice was served. The case for the world is closed. A function of the Holy Spirit,
however, is the enlightenment that offers another reading of the evidence” (Craddock,
Knox Preaching Guides: John John Knox 1982, 119-120).
In other words, some who watched Jesus die reasoned like this:
(1) Jesus claimed to be God
(2) When He was executed, no supernatural power intervened to rescue him.
(3)If He had been God, a supernatural power would have rescued Him.
(4) Therefore Jesus was not God
Jesus said, “That’s the wrong conclusion. I am going to the Father – that’s proof that I am who I claimed to be.”
3. They are wrong about judgment, because the ruler of this world has already been judged. John 16:11
“The ruler of this world is [a term of John’s] for the devil….Jesus interprets his death, not as defeat, but rather as a triumph over the ruler of this world.” Newman & Nida, A Handbook on the Gospel of John United Bible societies 1980, 505
In other words, Jesus planned to defeat the devil using the devil’s plan to kill Jesus. Jesus would die innocently, voluntarily, for all the wrongdoing of humanity through the centuries – and prove His victory over evil by rising from the dead.
Do you ever wonder how a person executed as a criminal 2,000 years ago became elevated to the status of God?
Andy Stanley suggests an answer:
“[T]here is no viable, natural explanation for why the church survived the first century, much less twenty centuries….From a purely secular perspective, the story of the church goes something like this:
“A small band of Jewish dissidents defied a superpower and a religious system that had been in place for a thousand years and, in the end, prevailed. At the center of this grassroots movement, originally referred to as The Way, was a Jewish carpenter whose messages centered on a ‘kingdom’ that wasn’t directly connected to this world. He spoke mostly in parables that few could understand. He insisted that those who followed him love the Romans and pay those onerous taxes. He alienated the influential and the powerful. He offended practically everybody. His family thought he had lost this mind. After only three years of public ministry, he was arrested, publicly humiliated, and executed….
“In a relatively short amount of time, this Jewish knockoff religion replaced the entire pagan pantheon of gods as the primary belief system of the Roman empire, the same empire responsible for crucifying its central figure. The same empire that launched several vicious inquisitions with the intent of stamping it out completely.
“Doesn’t really add up, does it? Not without an actual resurrection anyway.” Andy Stanley, Deep & Wide Zondervan 2012, 52-4
It’s the Holy Spirit’s role to help people connect the dots to see reality the way Jesus saw it, enabling people to see that Jesus died innocently to defeat evil – and that the next step must therefore be to recognize Jesus for who He is; namely, God in human form, alive, risen from the dead.