Preached: May 27, 2012

The Counselor Proclaims Peace in Jesus
John 14:25-27

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Grace and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen. The word from God through which the Holy Spirit comforts our hearts with the words of Jesus is John 14

I have spoken these things to you while I am with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name -- he will teach you all things and remind you of all that I’ve told you. Peace I leave with you. My peace I give you. I do not give as the world gives. Do not your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. (John 14:25-27).

This is the word of our Lord.

Peace comes at a great price. This weekend we remember and honor those who paid that price. They fought, they bled, they died, so that you and I might live in peace on this earth. As unrest sweeps the globe from Columbia to Syria, we remember what a blessing it is to have peace in our native land. How much we owe our veterans!

Earthly peace, though, is a fragile peace. So many things far less than a foreign army marching across our soil can disturb it. Fear of terrorist attacks, suffering as a victim of crime, economic struggles, community squabbles, family strife, and more disturb earthly peace, leaving it damaged, even destroyed. This world’s peace comes and goes like shadows flickering in the flames of dying fire.

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give as the world gives” (John 14:27 NIV84), Jesus promises. Jesus gives you a very different kind of peace, dear Christian. And he sends a very differed kind of Helper to proclaim that peace to you. The Counselor proclaims peace in Jesus. That’s the theme today. He proclaims the peace established by Jesus’ sacrifice -- part one. He proclaims the peace assured to you by the Word -- part two.

A. Peace established by Jesus’ sacrifice

Who is this Counselor? He’s the Holy Spirit, whom the Father sends. Jesus calls the Holy Spirit the παράκλητος. Some translations don’t even translate this word. They put the Greek into English and call the Holy Spirit the Paraclete.

It’s not that we don’t know what this word means. Rather no single English word captures it’s full meaning. It’s a compound word who two parts refer to being called alongside, like someone called alongside to help. He could be like an attorney or advocate, some sort of legal counsel, who’s called alongside to help for court. He could be someone called alongside to exhort, admonition, or encourage like a coach or a counselor, or even like a father who puts his arm around his son’s shoulder to lovingly instruct and guide. He could be someone who stands alongside to comfort and console, helping those who suffer from grief or sorrow. It’s a word filled with warmth, hope, encouragement, guidance, and strength. That’s whom the Father sends to your side, dear Christian. He’s the Counselor who proclaims the peace established by Jesus.

And oh, how we need him! Guilt blurs our vision of Jesus. During restless nights Our conscience wrestles with past decisions . Did I do the right thing? Did I do it for selfish reasons or for God’s glory? Anxiety weighs us down robbing our days of peace. Am I truly serving God each day? Is he happy with me or disappointed? Troubles tear open old wounds. Is God punishing me? Am I now getting what I deserve?

The Father sends you the Counselor, the Holy Spirit. He helps, encourages, and comforts you. For he shows you Jesus. That’s what it means that the Father sends him in Jesus’ name. He shows you who Jesus is and what he has done for you. Jesus is the Sacrifice. Ponder what that means as the Holy Spirit opens your eyes.

Peace requires sacrifice. Memorial Day reminds us of the sacrifices that bring earthly peace. The Holy Spirit reminds us of the sacrifice that brings divine peace. We were at war with God. That’s what sin is. All our attempts to satisfy God with our own efforts fail. Our works, our goodness, our prayers, our intentions all fall short. Could any sacrifice turn God’s anger away from us? Could any sacrifice bring peace?

Only Jesus. His innocent wounds satisfied God’s justice. His bloody suffering turned God’s anger away. His God-forsaken death in our place appeased God’s righteous wrath. Only Jesus. Only his sacrifice.

When your conscience cries out from the restless nights, from the weighty anxieties, or from the troubling afflictions, the Holy Spirit, your Counselor and Advocate, brings you into God’s courtroom. Now I realize lawyers often exude confidence as the tell the media that they will win the case, but inside they know it could go either way.

How different your Counselor is! For there’s nothing uncertain about God’s courtroom. The Holy Spirit points to Jesus and says to you, “See him. He’s made the sacrifice for you already. He’s satisfied the law. The judge has acquitted you. For Jesus has risen from the dead. This is real peace. You don’t need to be worried or afraid. Believe and stop doubting. You are forgiven. The Father’s love, mercy, compassion, kindness, and goodness embrace you. See the risen Jesus. He’s your Sacrifice.”

What a Counselor the Holy Spirit is! What comfort! He points you to the peace Jesus has established. This peace stands sure. It’s God’s promise. The verdict is in. We may not always feel at peace. We may struggle with doubts. But that does not change the objective fact: The sacrifice has been made. Jesus has died. Jesus has risen. The verdict stands. Don’t lose out in unbelief. Believe the Spirit’s message. He proclaims peace in Jesus, the sure and certain peace established by the sacrifice of Jesus.

B. Peace assured by the Word

But how we struggle to feel at peace! That’s why the Holy Spirit continues his work of Counselor for you and me. He keeps on assuring us of that peace Jesus has established for us. He comforts our troubled hearts.

How does he do this? Jesus says, “{T}he Counselor, the Holy Spirit, … will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you” (John 14:26 NIV84). He does it through the word. The Spirit comforts and assures us through the word, both the written word of the Scriptures and visible word in the two Sacraments.

The Holy Spirit says to you through the written Word, “God has reconciled you to himself, not counting your sins against you. You are reconciled to him through Jesus, who became your sin. Be at peace.” Through Baptism he proclaimed to you: “You are reborn into God’s family. You are no longer his enemy but his child instead. For Jesus has reconciled you to the Father.” Through the Lord Supper he proclaims to you: “Here is the price Jesus paid to reconcile you. Yes, be assured that he died for you, for you are the one eating his body and drinking his blood. You are the one he has reconciled through his death. Depart in peace.”

Oh what peace the Holy Spirit longs to bring to your heart, dear friends! Believe his word. Ponder your Baptism. Proclaim Christ’s death by coming to the his Supper often. These are the Spirit’s tools that proclaim to you peace in Jesus. These are the Spirit’s tools to assure you so that the peace of Christ fills you. He assures you with his word in the Scriptures and the Sacraments.

As Christ's peace fills us, it makes us bold to live in peace with one another. What do we have to fear from others since we have peace with God? Do you see how the Holy Spirit encourages and exhorts us on in good work of living at peace as much as it is posiible in this sinful world? He encourages us by proclaiming to us peace in Jesus.

For example, when others take advantage of us or treat us unfairly, it’s tempting to cause strife or get back at them or at least get my fair share. But remember you’re God’s reconciled child. Your heavenly Father will certainly take care of any need left unmet due to the unfairness of others. How that helps us live at peace! Or when anger boils up within you ready to lash out, listen to the Spirit’s word of peace. Remember that Jesus has reconciled you to God, despite God's righteous anger over our sins. As his dear children, can’t we bring our anger to him, leaving it for him to take care of according to his good will, confident that he can guard and protect us? And when this life seems to be anything but peaceful for you, the Holy Spirit comforts and assures you. You’re God’s reconciled child. This earth is not your true home. Your heavenly Father’s home is waiting for you, the eternal peace, the end of all strife, where he wipes every tear from your eyes. What peace the Holy Spirit proclaims to you in Jesus!

How does the Holy Spirit assure you of all this to strengthen you to live in peace? Through his word in the Scriptures and the Sacraments. That’s how he proclaims Christ’s peace to you, not only so that you have peace in your heart but also so that you live at peace with one another as much as it’s possible without compromising God's truth. Live in the peace of Christ with the full assurance that you are reconciled to God in Christ.

As the peace of Christ fills us, we can make good use of the earthly peace our veterans have won for us. For God blesses us with national peace not so we can accumulate wealth or live the good life, but so that we can live lives for his glory, bringing the peace of Christ to others. He is the only sacrifice that establishes real peace with God for us. He has reconciled us to God. What assurance his word give us! That’s the peace the Holy Spirit, the Counselor, the Comforter, the Paraclete, proclaims to you. Amen.

The peace of God that surpasses all understanding 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