Sixth Sunday of Easter
May 29, 2011
In the name of Jesus!
He is risen! He is risen indeed. Alleluia!
John 14:15 “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.”
Jesus Christ has a desire for you. His desire is that you love Him and observe His commandments. This is so important to Jesus that He not only mentions it here in verse 15, but again in verse 21.
Now, don’t be confused here and say that Pastor has flipped his lid and is going to preach a sermon that is all about us earning Christ’s love and forgiveness by our own actions. The ultimate conclusion of which is that we save ourselves. No, these commandments that Jesus speaks of here are not the Mosaic type but are the Gospel, just like Jesus says in John 8:51 Truly, truly, I say to you, if anyone keeps my word, he will never see death.
Martin Luther once wrote that Jesus is saying “that you faithfully preach concerning me, have my Word and Sacrament laid upon you, keep love and unity among yourselves for my sake, and suffer with patience whatever on this account comes upon you … For I do not mean to be a Moses to drive and to plague you with threats and terrors, but I give you such precepts as you can and will keep without commanding, if you, indeed, love me.”
Also, The Augsburg Confession Article VI: New Obedience also says, “Also they teach that this faith is bound to bring forth good fruits, and that it is necessary to do good works commanded by God, because of God’s will, but that we should not rely on those works to merit justification before God. For remission of sins and justification is apprehended by faith, as also the voice of Christ attests: When ye shall have done all these things, say: We are unprofitable servants. Luke 17:10. The same is also taught by the Fathers. For Ambrose says: It is ordained of God that he who believes in Christ is saved, freely receiving remission of sins, without works, by faith alone.”
John 14:16 “ And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever,“
It is because of Christ’s love for His disciples that He promised them that he would ask the Father to send them another paraclete. Another way to put this is with the word Advocate, as in a lawyer who defends and pleads your case before the Father, who is the righteous judge.
This paraclete or advocate is the Spirit of Truth, the Holy Spirit. But why would the Son have to send the Holy Spirit? This is a mystery of the Trinity itself. We know that there aren’t three Fathers but one. There aren’t three Sons but one. There aren’t three Spirits but one.
We also know that the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are one in essence, but are yet diverse in action. Here we see the Son requests, the Father sends and the Holy Spirit is the one who comes. The Holy Spirit whom we confess is “the Lord and giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son, who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified.”
John 14:17a “even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.”
The world does not know the Holy Spirit because it is ignorant of the work that the Spirit does. This is because the Spirit is only seen like the wind. “The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” (John 3:8). Since the world can’t see the Spirit it is unaware of anything that it does, even though it is here always working.
The Spirit is always working in the world and with Jesus’ disciples. He is the one who would live and remain with them after Jesus leaves. “He will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.” (John 14:26). Jesus also mentions in ch 16:14 that the Holy Spirit will “glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you.”
Not only will the Spirit be with these men, but in these men as well. Jesus has given these men the Spirit. The Spirit has been planted into their hearts by hearing these words of Jesus Christ, the Word made Flesh. The knowledge that these men have the Spirit will be made manifest after Jesus’ death and resurrection in a visible, physical and tangible way on Pentecost which will be remembered and celebrated here in 2 weeks.
John 14:18-19 “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Yet a little while and the world will see me no more, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live.”
What an amazing promise these disciples have from the Lord. Even in their time of grief that is quickly approaching, He is giving them someone to watch over these men and followers. He is promising to send them someone to take care of them. He is giving them the Spirit of Truth.
Yes, Jesus would leave for a while. He was going to the cross. He was going to suffer at the hands of people who were afraid of a revolt which would lead to punishment from their Roman rulers. Jesus was going to suffer at the hands of the religious leaders afraid that He, the Messiah, was going to lead people away from the Jewish leaders’ man-made traditions and the source of their power.
He was going to die not only for these men, but for you, and for your salvation as well. For your sins of arrogance when you tell yourself that you don’t need church. For the sin of rejecting Christ’s love and forgiveness giving into the Devil and his temptation that says you can do it yourself and that you don’t need Christ.
Even for the sin of ignoring Christ and His Gospel when He says that because you love Him you can love others. You say that sounds nice. I can do that. Love God and love others, simple. Then you leave here and turn this Gospel message into Law and mandate love be done out of self-service or as an act of self-sacrifice instead of Christ’s work in you. Or worse, keeping this message of Christ’s life and death for the forgiveness of sins to yourself instead of sharing it with the whole world in your words and deeds.
All of these and everything you’ve ever done has been taken to the cross for you.
Christ’s salvation doesn’t end with the cross where He defeated sin and the Devil, it continues three days later on Easter Sunday when He, and He alone, rose from the dead for you and in so doing defeated Death. Death has been put to death. Through Christ’s resurrection death has no more power over you.
Christ gives these gifts of life, the Spirit and a desire to love Him, to you freely without any asking, promises that end up broken by you, or pleas. He gives these gifts to you in His Word … a Word that is read to you by human lips … a Word that enters your human ears and goes straight to your heart that is pumping your blood.
You have received these gifts when you were Baptized, when the water with the Word of God, applied to your head and heart in the name of the Father, the Son and Holy Spirit. You were given saving faith and an assurance of your salvation, as well as the Gospel gift of loving Jesus and a desire to keep all of His commands.
Through Baptism you were also made a member of the community of believers. You were brought here by the Spirit of Truth, the paraclete, the advocate. You are maintained in this community eating and drinking Christ’s body and blood… by hearing His Word.
It is through the Holy Spirit who has called you by the Gospel, enlightened you with His gifts, sanctified and kept you in the true faith (Small Catechism), that you are able to and keep Christ’s commandments.
It is through the power of the Holy Spirit, who was sent by the Son, that you are able to believe that Jesus is the Son of God. You can believe that Jesus is “very God of very God,” unlike the Gnostics and the Mormons who teach the damnable doctrine that Jesus is less than God and above man.
You can await Christ return to claim His believers as His own on the Day of Judgment. A return that we can never know when will be. His return can be this afternoon or in fifty years. We will never know when, despite what the heretical conman Harold Camping and his ilk are saying. By the way the latest info is that the world is going to be actually destroyed physically on October 21st of this year because last Saturday was only a Spiritual Destruction.
You have no fear for the Holy Spirit, the paraclete, the advocate is with you. He is in your heart and He is reminding you of the salvation that Jesus Christ has won for you on the cross and by leaving the tomb empty. Amen