Reflection on John 16.5-11 (Easter 6: Tuesday; Easter Season)

A reflection for Easter 6: Tuesday, 16 May 2023, on John 16.5-11

John 16.5-11

Jesus said to his disciples, ‘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.’


Jesus said to his disciples: ‘The Advocate … will prove the world wrong about sin and righteousness and judgement.’ 

We only have to pick up a newspaper or engage with a news broadcast to get some sense of how the world thinks about the important eternal issues of sin, righteousness and judgement. Every news story seems to be chosen to highlight the sinfulness of humanity; every news story is presented in a way that contrasts the horrors of this world against an ideal that might be, but rarely is, described as righteousness; and every news story is offered with some sort of judgemental conclusion. Our consciousness is being subjected to a constant bombardment on the subjects of sin, righteousness and judgement. But, as we tune into those news broadcasts and as we read those ubiquitous newspapers, we need to reflect upon Jesus’ words for us today: The Advocate [that is, the Holy Spirit] … will prove the world wrong about sin and righteousness and judgement.

The problem with our worldly attitude to these three great issues that permeate the reality of human existence is that we think we have the answers in our own strength and in our own wisdom. To engage with the divine attitudes and teachings on these issues demands a level of faith that cannot easily be presented in an ‘entertaining’ and ‘engaging’ way on prime-time television, or in the format of a tabloid newspaper. So, to address those ‘circulation issues’ we have come to the point of devising our own judgemental system, a system that is rooted in what makes us feel comfortable, safe and secure.

In today’s reading Jesus says: I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away. The human life of Jesus was always destined to come to an end in order that he might return to his true place in the heavenly realm. During his short time on earth he taught in a way that challenged the norms that had grown up over many centuries. Then, having taught us how we should live our lives in an intense relationship with him and his teaching, he sent the Advocate (the Holy Spirit) to support and sustain us as we grappled with those big issues: sin and righteousness and judgement.

Today we are being challenged to accept that worldly wisdom is flawed. Indeed, it is so flawed that it flies in the face of all that Christians should hold most dear. We are being challenged to recognize the evil of sin in that which we consider mundane and routine, and then to repent. We are being challenged to recognize and follow the path of true righteousness, and to stop following the path which tempts us into self-indulgence and self-aggrandisement. We are being challenged to stop judging others simply because they are different from us, and to love as Christ loved, with an open, forgiving and totally accepting love. 

Let us pray for the strength of faith, character and courage to follow where the Holy Spirit leads, and not where our very, very flawed human wisdom leads.