Pentecost-b

Preached: May 31, 2009

Pentecost's Divine Gifts
John 14:25-27

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Grace and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. The Word from God through which the Holy Spirit points us to Jesus our Savior is John 14

I have said these things to you while I'm still with you. But the Comfort, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and remind you of all the things which I, myself, spoke to you. Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you. I am not giving to you as the world give. Don't let your heart be shaken nor afraid. (John 14:25-27)

Dear friends in Christ, fellow saints washed clean in the blood of our crucified and risen Savior, and especially you Josh, our 2009 high school graduate:

At high school graduation your whole life seems to be just waiting for you. So much potential and possibility lie ahead. But as you all well know our life on earth does come to an end. Often when people grow older their thoughts turn to what kind of legacy they will leave behind. The wealthy might donate a building with their name on it or start a charitable foundation. For many of us our legacy is what we hand down to our children, maybe a family heirloom, great-grandma's wedding ring, a locket, a family Bible, a collection of family photos and memories, or some other inheritance.

In God's Word today, Jesus is speaking to his disciples on the night before he died. That night he gave them his last will and testament, namely the Lord's Supper. Now these verses, although they do not talk about the Lord's Supper directly, do talk about gifts he's handing down. These two gifts mentioned here help describe the legacy that he leaves for his disciples and for you and me who believe. Yes, Josh, Jesus gives them to you, and they're better than any graduation present.

Jesus has already shared these two gifts with the disciples. In fact, believers from the days of Adam and Eve onward have enjoyed these gifts in part. But from Pentecost on these gifts would be poured out in richer measure and be more fully understood and enjoyed. For these two gifts are based on the work Jesus came to do, the mission he completed by his death, resurrection, and ascension. That's one reason why we connect these two gifts to Pentecost, ten days after Jesus' ascension. Pentecost marks how these two gifts begin going out into all the world. Let's think about these two gifts under the theme: Pentecost's divine gifts.

A. The Holy Spirit, who teaches us Jesus' name

1) How do the great miracles the Holy Spirit worked at Pentecost contrast with 'modern' spirituality?

Jesus speaks about the first gift, “The Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you” (John 14:26 NIV). The first gift is the Holy Spirit, himself.

Consider that day of Pentecost, on the fiftieth day after Jesus' resurrection. How this promise and legacy, was fulfilled! Peter points to the prophecy in Joel: “In the last days, God, says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people” (Acts 2:17 NIV). On that day the Holy Spirit made his presence known in miraculous ways: a sound like the blowing of a violent wind, tongues of fire above the disciples' heads, their speaking in different languages.

But the two greatest miracles the Holy Spirit worked that day was what the disciples said and how those words changed the hearers' hearts. And that is still what the Holy Spirit does among us today. For that is the legacy Jesus has promised us: His Father will keep on sending the Holy Spirit to teach us Jesus' name. That's what he's been doing for you Josh and wants to continue to do.

How different this is from modern spirituality! Today's spirituality is touted by celebrities from Oprah Winfrey to Deepak Chopra. Such spirituality directs you inward. Find your true self. Find your inner strength. Find your real relationship with the cosmos. Such inner searching is nothing new or modern. It goes back to Eve trying to find her inner god by eating the fruit. “And you will be like God”(Genesis 3:5 NIV). It just gets repackaged with current buzz words, colorful hype, and celebrity endorsements. Even many churches today that claim to have the Spirit and focus on his gifts often emphasize what people do rather than what Jesus has done. Don't be misled by them.

For how different the real work of the real Holy Spirit is! Notice why the Father sends the Holy Spirit as Jesus promises. Not to point you inward, not to point to what you can do, but to point you to Jesus. He “will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you” (John 14:26 NIV). The Holy Spirit pointed the disciples to Jesus' words and actions. That is what “in Jesus' name” means when Jesus says, “The Father will send [him] in my name.” Jesus' name is his reputation, who he is and what he's done. The Holy Spirit teaches us Jesus' name. He teaches us what Jesus has said and done for us.

That's what those two greatest miracles on Pentecost were all about. The Holy Spirit gave the disciples the words that pointed people to Jesus. Go home and read the rest of Acts 2 where the Second Lesson ended. You will see that Peter's sermon that day pointed to Jesus Jesus from Nazareth, accredited by God through his miracles, Jesus crucified and risen from the dead, just as the Scriptures had foretold, Jesus, the Christ, the Anointed One, who carried out the Father's mission to save sinners. What a miracle of the Holy Spirit that those words of truth were spoken by the disciples. And what a miracle that many who heard took those words to heart, repented, and were baptized for the forgiveness of sins. That is what the Holy Spirit worked in them.

2) What work does the Holy Spirit still do among us today?

And that is the work the Holy Spirit still does today among us. For you see, when the Holy Spirit taught the disciples all things and reminded them of all that Jesus did, he had them write it down. That's the New Testament. And that's why we know that these words are not the vague memories of the disciples trying to recall what Jesus said and did, nor are these words the invention of the early church. The Holy Spirit himself taught the disciples and reminded them of exactly what to record so that we may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and by believing have eternal life in his name.

That's the miracle the Holy Spirit has worked in you Josh, beginning at you at your Baptism. That's the miracle he wants to keep on working in you as you keep on hearing and learning God's Word. The miracle of faith in Jesus.

What a miracle for all of us to take to heart. Marvel at the what the Holy Spirit works in you. Don't run after other so-called spiritualities. Cherish the marvelous miracle that the Holy Spirit has worked in you. You know Jesus by name. You know him as your Savior from sin and death. You trust him. You trust that he has taken away your sins, that he has renewed your relationship with God, that he has conquered death and prepares a place in heaven for you. What a legacy Jesus has left for us! He has given us his Holy Spirit so that we believe his word and trust his saving name.

B. Peace, which comforts our hearts

1) What kind of peace does Jesus leave for us?

And that brings us to the second gift that Jesus leaves us as his legacy. “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” (John 14:27 NIV). The second legacy is peace.

Notice how Jesus phrases it: “My peace I give you.” He's not talking about peaceful feelings. No one would say, “My peaceful feelings I give you,” because you can't give someone your own feelings. You can share your feelings but that doesn't mean others will feel the same way.

Rather Jesus is talking about the reality of peace, that he leaves us a state of peace instead of a state of war. “Peace I leave with you, not simply peaceful feelings but the end of your warfare against God. I leave you with the peace I won for you. This is certainly my peace,” Jesus says, “for I purchased it with my blood paying for your sins on the cross. This peace, my peace, I give you.”

This last weekend, we remembered those who paid for our political peace with their blood on the battlefield. We have earthly peace because of their sacrifice. We might not always feel at peace, especially listening to the news, but whether we feel it or not, we live our daily lives in that kind of earthly, political peace.

How much more isn't the peace purchased for you by the blood of God real and true! When your heart troubles you, when your conscience accuses you, when the devil's whispers, “How could God forgive someone like you?” listen to Jesus words, “Peace I leave with you. My peace I give you.” He doesn't lie. His hands and feet bare the marks of the price of that peace. Believe it. In Jesus you, sinner though you are, have peace with the holy God. Your warfare's ended.

That's the peace the disciples proclaimed on Pentecost. The hearers had crucified the Christ. How that troubled their hearts! But Peter tells them, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins” (Acts 2:38 NIV). What peace, the peace of forgiveness in Jesus Christ.

Remember that Josh as you face the ups and downs of life as an adult. When times our good, its easy to leave Jesus behind thinking we can have peace without him, and we wander off, skipping church, not thinking about Jesus in the choices we make. And when times are bad, we wonder whether Jesus would ever welcome us back. In both good and bad times look to Jesus alone for real peace.

2) How does Jesus bring his peace to us?

And remember how Jesus brings you peace. For the way Jesus brings this peace is so different from what the world expects. “I do not give to you as the world gives” (John 14:27 NIV), Jesus says. The world expects peace to come through power. Even diplomacy is simply the subtle use of power. That's why soldiers had to fight to win our peace. Jesus brings peace by laying aside his power and dying as a helpless lamb, sacrificed for others. And look at the way Jesus brings his peace to us today. Through word, water, and wine. The world maintains peace by armies, navies, air forces, and nuclear weapons. No wonder so many downplay Baptism, the Lord's Supper, and the Scriptures they just don't seem as powerful as the world's ways. But those, dear friends, are the ways Jesus has chosen to bring his peace to you.

That's also a reminder that if we're finding peace elsewhere, outside of Baptism, the Lord's Supper, and Scripture, then that's not the peace Jesus brings. Many might think they have peace they feel at peace but it's a false peace. For rather than looking at Jesus through his word and sacraments, they are looking elsewhere. They are still in their sin, still at war with God, whether they feel that way or not. They are headed for hell, for all who war against God will lose. So find your true peace in Jesus as he comes to you in Word and sacraments. Yes, Josh, remain faithful in using God's Word and sacrament.

What a legacy Jesus left for us: his Spirit and his peace! And how Pentecost puts these divine gifts into focus. Don't squander that legacy by following the path of sin and doubt. Rather cherish the legacy by pondering all that the Spirit teaches you about Jesus through his Word. Cherish the legacy by rejoicing in the peace purchased for you by Jesus' blood and handed down to you through God's Word and sacraments bring to you. And pass on that legacy. For better than any diploma or family heirloom or graduation present you can give your kids, give what Jesus has given you: the Holy Spirit and his peace. Amen.

The peace of God that surpasses all understanding will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.

Pastor Gregg Bitter

St. John's Evangelical Lutheran Church
859 5th Street
Hancock, MN 56244
(320) 392-5313

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