Serving as a witness to the work of Jesus

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In today’s Gospel, we hear Jesus give his final address to his disciples. He promises to send them a good lawyer. Lawyers are needed when there’s trouble and there is plenty of that knocking at the door.

There will be arrests, charges, court scenes, trials, accusations and sentences. Jesus promises his disciples that the lawyer he will send will lead them out of confusion and into the complete truth. This lawyer is no human advocate; he is the Spirit of truth who comes from the Father.

One of the fascinating characteristics of John’s Gospel is how he presents the story of Jesus as a lawsuit between God and the unbelieving world. Witnesses on either side argue the case: is Jesus the Messiah and the Son of God? God’s witnesses are his word in Jesus, the great prophet John the Baptist, the signs and mighty works of Jesus, and the Holy Spirit and the apostles. The opposition is represented by the unbelieving Jews.

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When Jesus’ trial gets under way, the accusers are invited to bear witness regarding the evil that Jesus is alleged to have committed. Jesus boldly challenges the officer in court: “If there is something wrong in what l said, point it out, but if there is no offence in it, why do you strike me?” (John 18:23) No one takes up the challenge. According to John’s account, Jesus won the most important lawsuit in history. Because Pilate declares Jesus’ innocent three times, the judge is convicted of perverting justice when he hands Jesus over to be crucified.

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