St John 16: 1-15
‘I have said these things to you to keep you from stumbling. They will put you out of the synagogues. Indeed, an hour is coming when those who kill you will think that by doing so they are offering worship to God. And they will do this because they have not known the Father or me. But I have said these things to you so that when their hour comes you may remember that I told you about them.
‘I did not say these things to you from the beginning, because I was with you. 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.
‘I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own, but will speak whatever he hears, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, because he will take what is mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine. For this reason I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.’
In the hymn “Go forth and tell” the hymn writer says “how can they call if they have never heard, the gracious invitation of his word”. Jesus is telling the disciples that he will no longer be with them, so it is up to them to continue his work. They will face challenges, even from people who believe, as they will think they are serving God by destroying them. The Advocate (Holy Spirit) is coming to support them and to show them the way – to continue to share with them the work of God and show the world where they are going wrong.
The disciples will face a difficult task – to continue to bring the Kingdom to a people who did not believe in Jesus and so had him crucified. To continue in Jesus’ work will bring rejection, danger and more than likely death. But the disciples must be strong and go on with their task.
We live in a world that on the whole either does not believe or does not care. Our biggest enemy is not anti-religion it’s apathy. People who have no belief in God and can see no reason why they should believe. How can we show them the way to a full life with God? How can we live out the promises of God; the example of Jesus; through the power of the Holy Spirit? Whatever we decide to do, the work must continue, even though the dangers will still be there. With the presence of the Holy Spirit to guide and support us, the courage to continue with a battle against indifference will be more than worth it.
Lord we live in a world that just can’t be bothered to believe. People believe in doing good, in caring for others, and offering comfort but do not believe in you. Help us to show them the fulfilment you bring; the promises you keep and the everlasting life you offer that they may deepen their faith in humanity by trusting in you. Help us bring your word to life and our faith to action. Amen