The Holy Spirit Enlightens To The Truth

May 21, 2006
日本キリスト教団 頌栄教会牧師 清弘剛生 Pastor Takao Kiyohiro, Shoei Church, Church of Christ, Japan
Translator M.A.F., Indiana, USA
John 16:12-24

You Will See Me

1. In today's third reading, I read to you the words of Jesus at the last supper. This section, which is recorded in chapter thirteen and forward, is called, among other [names], "The Farewell Sermon." Jesus knew that he would be arrested suddenly and [then] killed. However, Jesus speaks to his disciples as follows. "In just a while, you will no longer see me, but then again in just a while, you will see me," (16:16).

2. "In just a while, you will no longer see me." This [ refers to when] Jesus would be crucified and he would die and be buried. The disciples certainly did "no longer see" the figure of Jesus. But, Jesus said over and over that it meant that he was actually returning to his father. Even just before, he said, "Now I am ready to go to the one who had sent me," (verse five). And the Lord not only said he was going to the father and the disciples would "no longer see" [him] but he also said, "but then again in just a while, you will see me."

3. This statement bewildered his disciples. "What is this when he says 'In just a while, you will no longer see me, but then again in just a while, you will see me," and when he says, 'I am going to my father'?," (verse seventeen). They spoke to each other saying that.

4. "In just a while, you will no longer see me, but then again in just a while, you will see me." -- What might this statement mean? The first thing thought is the manifestation of the risen Christ. As a matter of fact, as you go on reading this gospel, the risen Christ certainly did appear to them. This is what's written. But, if it means only that the risen Christ will appear in a form visible to the eye, then the statement of "you will see me" won't have meaning to the church after the ascension of Christ and to us today.

5. But because of the fact that John believed that the statement "you will see me" was spoken to the later church as well he must have written it in [his] gospel. For that reason we're reading it aloud in [our] worship service today. Jesus is saying to us of a later era that "you will see me." Since that's the case what might it mean then?

6. The main thing in it then is the flow of the story. Just before [in the text] he spoke about "the work of the Holy Spirit." The Holy Spirit is called "the Spirit of Truth." When the Spirit of Truth comes, he will guide the disciples and enlighten them into every truth. Then after that the text continues with "In just a while, you will no longer see me, but then again in just a while, you will see me." If [you have] The New Interconfessional Version, [the printed edition] puts a separation between verses fifteen and sixteen, however, originally it followed in order as a statement from Jesus.

7. Actually then, this [passage] is not the only one that speaks about the Spirit of Truth. [Jesus] speaks about [Him] in chapter fourteen as well. Let's give it a look. Please look at verses sixteen and following in chapter fourteen. "I will ask my father. My father will send another defender, he will make it so that he will be with you for ever. This one is the Spirit of Truth. ... ," (14:16-17). Then, as he continues in this way about the fact that the Spirit of Truth will be given, he speaks as follows. "I will not keep you as orphans. I will return to you. In just a while, the passing world will see me no more, but you see me. Since I live, you will live, too," (14:18-19). The connections with "the Spirit of Truth will be given" and "you see me" are quite similar to today's passage of scripture. So, if we look at this carefully, what Christ intended will become clear.

8. Jesus spoke on the sending of the Holy Spirit after his ascension. And now, just as Jesus said, we're in the midst of the work of the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of God invisible to the eye. The Holy Spirit is "the Spirit of Truth." The Spirit of Truth leads us and enlightens us into every truth. But, how do we really define what that truth is? So, we need to recall to mind [when] Christ said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life," (14:6). The truth we must truly know is not defined as some abstract general idea. The truth, ultimately, is the person of Jesus Christ. In other words, the Spirit of Truth points us to the person of Jesus Christ and causes us to encounter him.

9. The Lord said, "I will not keep you as orphans. I will return to you." He said, "but then again in just a while, you will see me." The risen Christ certainly did appear to his disciples. However, the manifestation to those first disciples was a sign that pointed to the spiritual events that would happen later to all Christians. "I will not keep you as orphans. I will return to you." -- This is fulfilled through the Spirit of Truth. Just as those first disciples had seen the risen Christ, through the work of the Holy Spirit, we too see Christ with [our] eyes of faith. Through faith we know that "Jesus has certainly not made me an orphan."

Sorrow Will Change To Joy

10. Well, Christ stated further what the reunion with the Lord of the resurrection meant to the disciples. "I truly say to you. You have cried and are overwhelmed with sorrow, but the world is glad. You are sad, but that sadness will turn to joy," (verse twenty). What really happens when we know Christ through the work of the Holy Spirit and we meet up with him? Jesus says, "Sadness will change into joy."

11. [He] says, "You have cried and are overwhelmed with sorrow." What kind of sorrow is he pronouncing to his disciples? The word used here has the meaning "parting sadness." Jesus is pointing directly to the sorrow in his being crucified and killed. However, Jesus' dying didn't mean that they could no longer meet with Jesus any more. It meant that the basis upon which they were trusting would be completely demolished, and their unfilled hopes which they had imagined would vanish away like ghosts. Their standing in society fell apart, and it was an experience like all the lights burning out and falling into utter darkness.

12. In chapter six of this gospel a famous miracle story appears in which Jesus gave food to a multitude that had five thousand people, going by just the men. Then after that event, something very interesting is written. "Jesus knew that the people were coming and wanted to take him along to make him king, and he withdrew by himself up into a mountain again," (6:15). The people were ready to make Jesus king. But, it wasn't only the crowd that wanted to make Jesus king. The disciples did, too. They believed that he was the very one who would save Israel, open up a bright future for them, and he was the very basis for their lives.

13. But, their basis and their hopes were both utterly crushed before the dreadful violence of the sin in this world and the power of death. That this sorrow and sadness would visit upon the disciples was actually announced to them ahead of time. Thus, any time a person's hopes in this world are dashed, a bitter sorrow will visit upon such an one. This kind of sorrow is very much related to the people in the period in which The Gospel Of John had been written as well as for us here right now. "You have cried and are overwhelmed with sorrow." That does happen to us. Just as the disciples [had to], the time will be coming when [we] will not be able to turn our face from either human sin or from the reality of death. The time is coming when we won't be able to avoid looking straight at the fact that the hopes visible to our eyes, as we imagine them to be, can't really be taken for as hope in any real sense. At that moment we too will be helpless but to just "cry and be overwhelmed with sorrow."

14. But, Jesus says that these sorrows are not the conclusion to it all. "You grieve but, your sorrow will be turned to joy." The Lord said that. How is that [possible]? It will be by through [our] encountering the risen Christ. It will be by meeting with the Lord again, through the work of the Spirit of Truth. It will not be given by some pretty words designed to comfort. It will be by meeting with the one who confidently announced, "I am going to my father" even before he was ever crucified. It will be by meeting with the one who [didn't focus on his] death on the cross, but shot past that death and had looked at his "father's house" (John 14:2). Grief turns to joy by being handed from [Jesus] real hope that shoots past even death. The Lord said it would happen to the disciples. And it will happen to us as well.

15. Therefore, Jesus likened the sorrow and the sadness, which the disciples would experience, to "birth pains." Birth pains are not for ever. They're no more than [the natural part of the way things proceed -] a process. In today's passage of scripture the phrase, "in just a while," is used repeatedly. In addition, there is significance in birth pains. Birth pains are necessary pains. That's true and those pains are necessary. The experience of a human being coming face to face with the reality of death, the experience of one's standing falling apart, though we once believed it to be sure, the experience of a future that once seemed to be opened to us unlimitedly now suddenly shut down; the deep suffering that comes from all of these is some how necessary at the time. They're birth pains. These birth pains were some how necessary for the disciples before reuniting with the risen Christ.

16. But, when there are birth pains, there is hope; because everyone knows that after the pains of birth joy will come upon you. When we meet with Christ and live in fellowship with Christ through the work of the Holy Spirit who is at work and alive in this world right now, we will have the joy that is given us there [with Christ]. And the Lord said, "There is no one who can steal away that joy from you." We know that the world's joy is so easily lost. It gets stolen away. However, no one can steal the joy that's in Christ regardless of the power wielded. That's because it is different from the joy that is [so-called] preserved by turning one's eyes away from reality. And because it is a joy that is still given to us even as we come face to face with the real world and with the sorrow and the sadness [in it]. And because it is a joy that is based on the hope that shoots past death.

Ask According To My Name

17. Finally, let's read from verse twenty-three. "On that day, you will no longer ask anything of me. I truly say to you. If you request anything of my father in my name, the father will give it to you. So far you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask. In doing so it will be given to you, you will be filled with joy," (verses twenty-three and twenty-four).

18. The speech at this point moves to prayer because even though the disciples will meet with Jesus again and their sorrow will be turned to joy, they [are] still on this earth [and] must keep living in a harsh world of reality. We're the same on that. Even though we know that we will meet the one who has gone to the father, we've been given a hope that penetrates past death, and we've got places prepared for us in our father's house, the place where we still continue to live with Jesus is within this earthly reality. What's more, just as the disciples [lived], even we too will live as persons sent into this passing world.

19. We ought to recall, then, that before Jesus went back to the father, he had walked on the same earth [like us]. While Jesus called upon the name of God the Father, while he prayed to [his] father, he had walked as one with the father. This Jesus says, "You should do the same." "Use my name." "Ask according to my name." In that manner then, as we call the name of the father we will walk with Christ the Son through the deeds of the Holy Spirit who works on this earth.