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.
It was a twenty-one year painstaking project that Dr. Panin Brambilla Barcilon and her team tackled in restoring the face of Jesus. Five hundred years of mold, plaster, glue, pollution, and misguided restoration attempts had distorted Jesus’ face on Leonardo de Vinci’s painting The Last Supper. Using the latest in optics, surgical instruments, and chemicals, the team labored to reveal the face of Jesus just as Leonardo had portrayed.
Today’s text describes the Holy Spirit’s work as Advocate, clearing up distortions of Jesus, thus enabling people to see Jesus for who He really is. It is the ministry of the Holy Spirit “to prove the world wrong” about how it sees Jesus, sin, righteousness, and coming judgment. The Holy Spirit is an “advocate” for Jesus, applying the truth of the Gospel to people’s hearts and minds.
The Spirit does not come to prove the world wrong about not keeping the Ten Commandments, or not living by the Golden Rule. The Holy Spirit comes to prove the world wrong about the one thing: not believing in Jesus. “He will prove the world wrong about sin…because they do not believe in me.”
Not believing in Jesus as God’s Son and only Way to the Father is the one fundamental, overriding sin (John 3:18, 36). “Sin, at root, is a refusal of grace, the proud titanic assertion that we can atone for ourselves” (Bruce Milne, The Message of John). The one great issue of life is Jesus.
The world will say nice things about Jesus, and occasionally tip its hat to Him as a great teacher and moral leader. Our relativist culture fancies Jesus as yet another spiritual guru who can show us how to discover our own divinity. But the Holy Spirit comes to prove the world wrong in the way it sees Jesus.
It is important to note that Jesus is not sending the Spirit to the world, but “to you”, His followers. The Holy Spirit then moves through the lives of Jesus’ followers to bring others to the Father’s heart. This takes all the pressure off anyone who would speak for Jesus. It is the ministry of the Holy Spirit to clear up the world’s distortions of Jesus and open closed minds to who He really is.
What are there in Jesus’ words today to know; to feel; to do?