Peter Misselbrook's Blog
Nov 24 2020 - John 16:1-33 – Who's going to change the world?

Jesus tells the disciples that he is returning to the Father and will then send the Spirit to them. “When he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment. Concerning sin because they have not believed in me. Concerning righteousness because I am going to the Father and they will no longer see me. Concerning judgment because the ruler of this world has been brought to judgment” (John 16:8-10). On the face of it, these words appear strange. Many have not believed in Jesus during his earthly ministry and now he is about to disappear from sight. If the world has remained unmoved while Jesus was around, why should it suddenly become convicted when he is absent?

Jesus is speaking of the things that are about to happen to him. “The world” has not believed in him; it has rejected him. This rejection is about to come to a head as he is seized by the Jewish leaders and handed over to the Romans to be crucified. They, both Jewish leaders and Roman power, did not believe in him. Nevertheless, Jesus’ death is his glorification: it is not his defeat but his triumph. It is the ruler of this world – and the powers of this world – that are brought to judgment at the cross. This is what is really going on and its reality is demonstrated by Jesus’ resurrection from the dead, ascension into heaven and enthronement at the right hand of the Father. The powers of this world are broken.

All of this may seem unreal, just a tale that is told. But it is made real and visible through the work of the Spirit poured out from heaven. He is the one who convicts the world of these realities – that Jesus whom they rejected and crucified is both Lord and Christ. He convicts the world of its sin in rejecting Jesus and of Jesus’ righteousness since he has been owned by the Father. He convicts the world that the powers of this present world have been brought to judgment and that the world to come is arriving in power – Jesus Christ is Lord. Judgment day has passed for those who have come to trust in Christ and his death and resurrection.

I am writing these comments on Trinity Sunday. Yesterday we read that Jesus reveals the heart of God. In the verses we have read today we are reminded that all three persons of the Trinity share a common purpose. The Father planned our redemption and this plan was faithfully executed by the Son who laid down his life for his friends. The Spirit is intent upon ensuring that the death and resurrection of Christ are applied with transforming power to the lives of men and women, giving life to the dead.

The Spirit who does all of this is given to the disciples – given to us. He is at work in and through us to change the world’s view of itself and of Jesus; and in changing perception, changing reality, changing the world. As Rob Bell has said, “It is our time to discover the beautiful, dangerous, compelling idea that a group of people, surrendered to God and to each other, really can change the world.” We can because he can.

Living God renew and enlarge my vision of your saving purposes in the Lord Jesus Christ.  Transform me by the power of your Spirit and empower me to bear witness to your transforming power. Convict the world of its sin, Christ’s righteousness and of the judgment to come that has broken into the middle of human history.

Peter Misselbrook