Friday, June 01, 2007

(#7) John 16 Sermon: In order to teach Something New, he has to explore Something Old

(This is my SECOND sermon on the Work of the Spirit in John. Read John 16:5-15 before reading.)

And the last paradox: In order to teach Something New, he has to explore Something Old.

In verse 12-15, Jesus has his disciples in a room. They haven’t understood what he has been saying. They don’t get why he must die. And they certainly don’t get a Resurrection. No – the Spirit has to come before they fully get that and explain that. And so he says:
V12 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; …
There is still more that you cannot bear. But the Spirit will give you that more.

Some of you will see the difficulty: That Jesus seems to be saying that his Word is not enough. That there is a deficiency in all he has said. And that he is opening a blank check to all sorts of abuses in the church. That is: People claiming a whole lot because the Spirit 'told me this' and the spirit 'told me that'.

Laurel and I sat next to someone at a wedding once who said to us: "The Spirit told me I could fly"; and I thought: "This is more than I can bear right now."

But that’s relatively harmless stuff (or is it?). I guess it is compared to the claims of people all over the world saying that the Spirit told them this or that. When ‘this’ or ‘that’ is a damaging claim to speak for God.

And more, this verse has been used for the basis of much revisionism and progressive theology that leaves the old gospel behind.

But no – and here is the paradox: He has more to say; and yet the ‘more’ will be the old Gospel made clear in a new context.
14 He will glorify me, because he will take what is mine and declare it to you.
And it is even clearer in John 14:26:
26 But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you.
So there is at least a tension to hold. This makes total sense when you read the epistles. The letters. Because the basic new context is this:

First, the reality of the Resurrected Jesus. (Something that the disciples could not have imagined) And in our reading from Acts, we witness the coming of the Advocate: Like a wind. And if we had kept reading, we’d hear Peter (who is famous for getting things half right.) fully proclaim the implications of the Resurrection within a few weeks of this moment.

And Second, the pushing of that gospel into all the world and how especially non-Jewish people would practice a faith in the Jewish Messiah. So if we kept reading Acts, we’d witness Peter again worry about eating with a Non-Jew and accepting him as a brother, and the Spirit has to awaken him to the reality that a Non-Jew is clean if he accepts Jesus as Messiah.
Something he couldn’t bear until it happened.

A case can in fact be made that the ‘more than you can now bear’, that ‘the Spirit brings’, is the ministry and writing and preaching of the Apostles in the early church. And simply the gospels and the letters; the New Testament.

But today, the Spirit takes what belongs to Jesus, and things that you cannot bear, and makes them plain to you.
Conclusion to come...

1 comment:

Stephanie Dosch said...

This timeline of events is very insightful. This is a very thought provoking post...