Grace, mercy and peace be unto you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. AMEN! Our text for this morning’s sermon is taken from St. John’s gospel account the 16th chapter (St.John 16:12-22).
Beloved in the Lord,
The Savior has Words for the weak this morning. He has much more to say, but His followers cannot bear them now. They are weak. They are burdened. They are like us. For this morning our Jesus speaks to those who suffer want and hardship, who are oppressed, harassed, persecuted and tormented in and by the world. He speaks to hurting souls who have been burdened with a guilty conscience, who suffer the affliction of the heart, who endure in a world broken, depraved, and corrupted. He speaks to His little flock of believer’s kindly dealing with bruised reeds and smoking flax. He speaks His truth to bring them joy, though in a little while they will not see Him. In a little while what they do see, and hear, and experience will shatter everything they thought to be true in the world. The image of the cross will run them through with the truth. Then, and only then will Jesus raised their dead hearts out of the muck and mire of sin, death, and the power of the devil, and raise them unto newness of life towards God and neighbor, raise them in the power of His own resurrection.
Thus, the Shepherd speaks to His lambs in the confines of the upper room. And He speaks to you this morning. The disciples have received the fullness of their salvation. His words have been fulfilled for them and in them. Not one has He lost, save the son of perdition. This morning Jesus seeks that same Word’s fulfillment for you and in you. He voices His tender heart to the feeble, for the frail, that we, whose strength and merits fail to deliver, whose hearts are weighed heavy with the cross, whose eyes behold only brokenness, might receive Holy consolation from the Comforter Himself. Jesus speaks to us of the coming of the Holy Spirit.
Holy Scripture teaches us and experience confirms that we who believe in Christ, and yet remain weak, feeble, and frail, also have a great enemy about and around us. “Our enemy prowls about as a roaring lion seeking someone to devour.” And Luther says, “we are opposed by an enemy who is not interested in the temporal trivia which we possess here. No, he struggles and strives to hold our consciences bound in sin and to plague us with the eternal terrors of hell and with despair, in brief, to drag us down with him from the kingdom of God and from all communion with God into eternal damnation and the fire of hell.” The battle waged for your heart is not one to be taken lightly! Heaven and hell hang in the balance of such warfare. And we are too weak to bear it, too feeble to endure it, too frail to survive it. Nothing short of eternal life and eternal death are at stake for each and every one of us.
And what does our enemy want to do? He wants to keep us in bound to our sin. He wants you and I to believe that Christ is not bigger than our sin. He wants us to doubt and to despair. And if we look at our lives, if we look at the world, if we get all caught up in how we feel, whether or not we’re healthy, wealthy, and wise, if our hearts become set on these things that we see, hear, and experience, we will doubt and despair. We will wonder what God’s doing. We will question His heart. We will suspect His love. We will have our eyes taken from the passion of His Son, and allow the trials and tribulations, the sufferings and afflictions which we receive in this broken world to seize our hearts and steal them away from Christ, thereby stealing away all joy and eternity!
This is the weakness we bear in our mortal nature. We are simply not strong enough to fight off the roaring lion. We are simply not wise enough to avoid His trappings. We are simply not good enough to rise above such things but, in our sinfulness, in our falleness, in our brokenness we need a comforter. We need the forgiveness of our sins. We need the promise of the resurrection of our bodies. We need the confidence that comes with the reception of God’s Love. We need the work and ministry of the Holy Spirit.
Thus Jesus teaches us that the Holy Spirit will guide us into all truth. He will speak what He hears and He will give what is Christ’s. The Holy Spirit will take us from the realms of death and direct our hearts and minds to Christ! “His message will have substance, (not fluff); It will be certain and absolute truth (not riddled with “ifs” or “maybes” or conditional responses from you). For He will preach what He receives from the Father and from Jesus. He will preach what He will hear. He will preach Christ crucified, and only Christ crucified. He will glorify Jesus and only Jesus so that weak, feeble, and frail hearts are turned by the Holy Spirit away from their sins, from their death, and from their enemy the devil, and turned to believe in Jesus! The Holy Spirit will not point to Himself, will not glorify Himself, will not preach Himself, but will constantly be holding before the faithful, Jesus’ death and resurrection for the salvation of the world!
Look here, beloved, and hear the Holy Spirit preach to you this morning. Let your heart be filled with the passion of Jesus Christ! Look to the cross and find God hidden under suffering! Look to the blood and find that which covers over your sins! Look to His death to find your eternal life! Look to His righteousness and find a robe shining brilliantly, a garment to adorn your nakedness! Look to Him beloved! Look to Him and believe! Look to Him and trust! Look to Him and set your heart upon His passion, your eyes upon His suffering, your ears upon His voice. The Shepherd of souls dies for you! Look beloved and know God’s heart, know God’s will, know God’s Love. “For this is love, not we loved Him but that He loved us and sent His son to be the propitiation, the blood covering, for our sins.” While we were still yet sinners, Christ Jesus died that we may be justified by His blood, made holy by His righteousness, and given the sure and certain promise of the resurrection of our bodies with the resurrection of His body and Easter morning! Look Beloved! Look here and listen as the Holy Spirit preaches joy to your heart!
Such words are for you, for your children, and for all who afar off. None are excluded from the love of God in Christ Jesus. And that none may be excluded, that none may miss out, that you may not wonder where to find these words, or receive these words, Christ makes the Holy Spirit His preacher in the world. He does this to make us sure and certain! He does this to prevent us from gaping toward heaven in search of Jesus, to keep us from looking in the woods for His blessings, to keep us from constantly evaluating our emotions in the hopes of feeling His presence in our lives. The Holy Spirit preaches the Word and works in the Sacraments! Thus the Holy Spirit occupies Himself with nothing other than bringing you to the one true faith, rescuing you from sin and death by making you a child of God, righteous and heirs of eternal life through Word and Sacrament only.
This, beloved, is the power and blessing of your baptism. Baptism is no powerless symbol. Baptism is no fluffy feel good deed done by you to prove your love for God. No, beloved, in your Baptism the Holy Spirit does the Work. The Holy Spirit proves His love for you. In your baptism the Holy Spirit seized your Old Adam and with the Word and Name of God, drowned your Old Adam in the passion of Christ’s blood. You were crucified with Christ and you were raised with Christ. Baptism is no tea-party! Baptism is the struggle and war of the Holy Spirit against sin, death, and the devil! Through and in baptism the Holy Spirit takes what is Christ’s; His righteousness, His suffering, death, and resurrection, and gives it to you. It is yours. “He saved you by the washing and regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit” (Titus 3:5). Thus He makes you no longer sinner, but saint. He makes you no longer orphan but a child of God, no longer peasant but sons and daughters of the KING of kings and LORD of lords! God the Holy Spirit speaks the Word, does the Work, and plants it home in your heart.
Beloved in the Lord, during this “little while” of not seeing Jesus, we walk by faith and by faith alone. Faith receives the Word and the Sacrament. Faith is strengthened by Word and Sacrament. Faith in Christ is the source of any and all true Joy because faith receives the forgiveness of sins.
Now, the devil will try to keep us bound. And faith cannot long endure the enemy’s onslaught without the Holy Spirit’s encouragement and testimony to Christ in Word and Sacrament! Thus we Christians must take seriously the salvation of our souls! We must hearken the Spirit’s admonishment! We must lend our ears to His voice, cling to Christ’s death and resurrection. As you know there is much hurt in this life but the heart of God is never against you and is forever for you. The Spirit gives testimony to this. The Words and Works of Christ prove the Love of God for you with blood! The Father’s own voice echoes His good pleasure in your hearts! Despite the hurt, despite our weak, feeble, and frail nature, we have the promise of God’s grace, the certainty of salvation, and the hope of eternal life. Therefore rejoice! The Savior will see you again! He will love you forever! Rejoice, be glad and sing! And your joy no one will take from you! AMEN!
The peace of God which surpasses all human understanding keep your heart and mind through faith in Christ Jesus. AMEN!