Let us pray: Lord Jesus Christ, almighty Son of God: We beseech You, send Your Holy Spirit into our hearts, through Your Word, that He may rule and govern us according to Your will, comfort us in every temptation and misfortune, and defend us by Your truth against every error, so that we may continue steadfast in the faith, increase in love and good works, and firmly trusting in Your grace, which You purchased for us by Your death, obtain eternal salvation; for You reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one true God, now and forever. Amen.
Grace to you and peace from God, our Father, and our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.
Exordium: What an extraordinary event occurred that Pentecost day. 120 of Jesus disciples were gathered together when a breeze came upon them. The Holy Spirit had come to them, and rested on them in tongues of fire. These common people with limited education were instantly able to speak in foreign languages, not babbling like the Pentecostals teach. But above all, the Holy Spirit gave them a fuller understanding of Christ their Savior. The Holy Spirit gave the knowledge of Christ and His saving work into their hearts. They knew the salvation Christ won for them. This was fact. Being certain that their eternal life is secured in Christ, we can see how these men who were at one time confused cowards hiding in locked rooms in fear of the Jews became bold preachers of Christ, willing to suffer and die for the sake of His name.
Though we do not receive that one-time gift of tongues, which the Holy Spirit gave to those believers almost 2000 years ago, we do receive the testimony of the Holy Spirit in our hearts through the Word of God, Baptism and the Lord’s Supper. Through these means, He showers upon us God’s boundless grace, gives us faith and strengthens it, and gives us eternal life in Jesus’ name. We praise God, the Holy Spirit for the gifts He gives us through the gospel. Therefore we sing the festival hymn, hymn number 27, v. 1. Please rise.
23 Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him.
24 “He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine but the Father’s who sent Me.
25 “These things I have spoken to you while being present with you.
26 “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.
27 “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.
28 “You have heard Me say to you,`I am going away and coming back to you.’ If you loved Me, you would rejoice because I said,`I am going to the Father,’ for My Father is greater than I.
29 “And now I have told you before it comes, that when it does come to pass, you may believe.
30 “I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming, and he has nothing in Me.
31 “But that the world may know that I love the Father, and as the Father gave Me commandment, so I do. Arise, let us go from here.
These are Your words, heavenly Father. Sanctify us by the truth. Your Word is truth. Amen.
The Teacher and Comforter Comes to Us
Dear fellow redeemed,
There is a lot of coming in and going out taking place in and around our gospel reading here today. A little earlier in the evening, Satan came and entered into Judas, and Judas left quickly in order to carry out the plan to betray Jesus.
Jesus said that He was going away to the Father and coming back to them. In His death, resurrection, and ascension, He was making His way to the Father performing the work of salvation for which He was sent to accomplish.
He was going to be coming back to them. Certainly, we know that Christ is returning visibly in glory on the Last Day to judge the living and the dead, but even before that day, He will come and dwell in and with believers. Jesus speaks about this a little in our text, and we’ll talk more about that later.
Then at the end of Jesus’ conversation with the disciples, Jesus said, “the ruler of this world is coming.” Satan is coming to unleash a full onslaught on Jesus. But Jesus says that Satan has nothing in Him. That is, that Jesus is innocent. There is nothing in Jesus for which the devil can claim Him. Jesus is without sin. There is no accusation that can be made against Jesus. The devil will get him betrayed and crucified, but he cannot truly hold Him, but Christ must and will ultimately gain the victory over evil foe.
And then this chapter ends with Jesus and the disciples arising to head out to the Garden of Gethsemane.
But there is another coming that takes place in our reading, one that we focus on today: Jesus aid, “the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.”
The coming of the Holy Spirit is essential for our coming to God in faith. Jesus says, “if anyone loves Me, he will keep my word.” Our love for Christ and our keeping of His word is impossible without the Holy Spirit. Luther’s meaning to the Third Article of the Creed says, “I cannot by my own reason or strength, believe in Jesus Christ, my Lord, or come to Him.”
We have a plethora of Scripture that teaches this. “The carnal mind [the unconverted mind] is enmity against God” (Romans 8:7). “You He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins” (Eph 2:1). Jesus said, “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him” (Jn 6:44). And John writes about those who receive the Christ, the Word made flesh, they come into the status of becoming God’s children. But John makes clear that this receiving of Christ and this birth as children of God not as something that we do, but something that God does, worked by the Spirit. He writes, “As many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” And a couple chapters later, Jesus specifically mentions the Spirit as the one giving new birth through baptism, when He says, “Unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God… Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water an the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh isi flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.”
So we cannot say that we chose to be Christians by our free will and volition, that we accepted Jesus Christ as our Savior. We didn’t invite Jesus to come into our hearts. The practice of the Altar Call where people come forward to the altar to invite Jesus into their hearts and make Him their Lord is a practice that incompatible with Scripture.
The Holy Spirit must come to us. The Father must send Him. And He will teach us through the Word.
The Holy Spirit came in a very special way to the disciples on Pentecost Sunday. With a sound like a rushing wind, He came to them and taught them, taught them what? Taught them the words that Jesus had already spoke to them. The Holy Spirit taught them the truth of the Scripture that some of them would write.
He continues to teach us the same thing. He teaches the Word through the Word. Like wind, He goes about working through the word. Jesus said, “The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit” (Jn 3:8). So also God speaks through the prophet Isaiah, “For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven, and do not return there, but water the earth, and make it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; it shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.”
The Lord sends out His word to us to be preached, read, sung among us, the Holy Spirit working through it creating and preserving in us faith that we know and believe in Christ and His salvation, and He gives us birth into new life as God’s children and members of His heavenly kingdom.
The Holy Spirit draws us to Christ, that we keep His word, which is summed up with Jesus’ words, “Repent and believe in the Gospel” (Mk 1:15). We come to Him in repentance over all our sins, and we believe the good news that we are God is not angry with us for our sins, but that for Christ’s sake He forgives us, receives us as His own redeemed, covering us in His grace and favor.
And then because of the new spiritual life the Holy Spirit has given us, and in response to the gospel which we keep by faith, we love Jesus, our Savior, who loved us first and gave His life for us, even when we were still sinners.
Many will say that they love Christ, but they do not keep His Word. They do not repent, and they do not believe in the gospel, but they find the cross offensive. They seek to live in their sins in impenitence, choosing sin instead of repentance and the gospel of Christ crucified for them.
But we give thanks to God, the Holy Spirit, that He has taught us the Holy Scripture and made us wise unto salvation, repenting and believing, and from that faith, loving Christ, our gracious Lord, and in this love for our Lord, loving also our neighbor.
And so the Holy Spirit has made our life one of coming and going. This is the Christian life, our baptismal life into which the Holy Spirit has brought us.
Through the Word and the Sacrament of the altar, the Holy Spirit grants us Christ’s forgiveness, life, and salvation. He refreshes us and strengthens us, so that we may go out to live godly lives in our vocations. But in our vocations we sin in thought word and deed, we tire of battling the devil, the world, and our sinful flesh, and we come back again in repentance, to the Word and Sacrament to be forgiven and refreshed by the Holy Spirit.
And as we live this baptismal life, by the power of the Holy Spirit, loving Christ and keeping His Word, we also have the comfort that Christ and His Father comes to us and dwells with us. And certainly, the Holy Spirit dwells with us, too, our bodies being His temple. What a joy this is that we believers have. By His grace, through faith, God comes to dwell in and with us.
When you were baptized, one of the passages that may have been spoken as a blessing upon you in the baptismal liturgy was from Psalm 121: “The Lord preserve your coming in and your going out from this time forth and forevermore.”
Because Christ came into the world to suffer and die and rise again and returned to the Father, the Holy Spirit was then sent to come to you through the gospel in Word and Sacrament to give you the gift of faith in that completed salvation of Christ. And thus having this true faith, the Triune God makes His dwelling in and with you. By His gospel, He guards and keeps you in your baptismal faith and life, in your coming in and your going out until your final departure from this fallen world, and you enter into heaven. God grant it. Amen.
Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, forevermore. Amen.