by Crossings

Testifying To Jesus
John 15:26-27; 16:4b-15
Analysis by Bruce T. Martin

15:26″When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who comes from the Father, he will testify on my behalf; 27You also are to testify because you have been with me from the beginning. . . .16:4b I did not say these things to you from the beginning, because I was with you. 5But now I am going to him who sent me; yet none of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’ 6But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your hearts. 7Nevertheless 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. 8And when he comes, he will prove the world wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment: 9of sin, because they do not believe in me; 10of righteousness, because I am going to the Father and you will see me no longer; 11of judgment, because the ruler of this world has been condemned. 12I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. 13When 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. 14He will glorify me, because he will take what is mine and declare it to you. 15All that the Father has is mine. For this reason I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.”


Step 1 — Initial Diagnosis: Don’t go!
The disciples (and we also, in our weaker moments) cannot comprehend why Jesus insists on leaving them. Jesus’ promise that his leaving is really to their (our) benefit falls flat. What could possibly be better than Jesus’ own presence? The “signs” of the kingdom will vanish, won’t they? It never even occurs to Jesus’ would-be disciples to ask of him, “Where are you going?” because it couldn’t possibly have a reasonable answer, could it? Therefore we insist of Jesus: Don’t go! We want you here with us; we want you to feed us; we want you to heal us. We want, we want, we want. It’s always about us, isn’t it?

Step 2 — Advanced Diagnosis: It can’t be!
But, in truth, Jesus’ going is not just leaving. Jesus is going to the cross. That cannot possibly be a good thing (for us), can it? Jesus says that it is and that it must be (for our sake), but how believeable can Jesus be to say so? Jesus says that he must go to the Father, but why must it be via dolorosa? Therefore “sorrow filled their hearts” and they insist: It can’t be! The way to the Father, they insist, is not by way of the cross. In their hearts, Jesus is not to be believed. We know better; we know what is best for Jesus; we know full well that Jesus will die — and all our dreams with him.

Step 3 — Final Diagnosis: It won’t be!
More than our dreams will die, however, if Jesus does not. If Jesus does not go to the cross, we will die in our sin. If Jesus does not go to the Father, the Advocate will not come. If we do not trust in Jesus, and in the Father who sent him, we remain in our sin and suffer the same worse-than-death judgment proclaimed upon “the ruler of this world,” condemnation. Our failure to believe in Jesus therefore leads us to insist, It won’t be! And, so long as it is up to us, it won’t.


Step 4 — Initial Prognosis: Please go!
Thankfully, Jesus goes as he is bid by the Father, against our will. First to the cross, where Jesus takes the sin of the world upon himself and gives us his righteousness in exchange; only then to the Father, where Jesus trades in his immediate presence for the promised Advocate: the One who testifies to this Christ-righteousness. The Advocate, Jesus promises, will “guide you into all the truth”: the truth of who Jesus is, not only for us but for the world; and the truth that “the ruler of this world has been condemned.” Meaning life for us — for all who put their trust in Jesus. Now that we no longer need to see Jesus in the flesh, we are encouraged to testify: Jesus, please go!

Step 5 — Advanced Prognosis: It must be!
Sorrow gives way to faith. Now we can see clearly that Jesus’ need to “go” was for our own benefit: that the cross was indeed necessary for our salvation; that the Spirit could not come to us otherwise. Now we know that it must be so! Just as Jesus testifies to the Father, and the Spirit testifies to the Son, so also by the Spirit’s indwelling “guidance,” we testify both to Jesus and to our Father: that the cross is not the end of dreams but merely the beginning of God’s dream for us.

Step 6 — Final Prognosis: It is!
God’s dream, the Kingdom, is dawning. It has dawned in Jesus already, and now it dawns in us — first in our hearts, then in our bodies, then in our communities. All together. We know it because we hear it (via the preached word); because we see it (via the sacramental word); because we feel it (via our consoling Christian friends). To this “truth” we testify, It is! And, we believe, always will be. Because Jesus always will be.


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