Sermon on John 14:23-27 for Pentecost, June 6 & 9, 2019
- Everybody wants peace. Everybody has their own idea of peace. And in our world, it seems that nothing is harder to find than peace. I think most of us would define peace as “The absence of conflict.” Maybe some would define peace as “a sense of security, safety and calm.” Sometimes when there is no conflict, that’s when people are most miserable. They don’t have the peace within. The baggage of memory of the past or attitude about the present remains, and even without conflict, there’s still conflict within. I think of King Solomon who had everything a person could want: wisdom, wealth, power, possessions, but he begins Ecclesiastes by telling us that he wasn’t at peace. “Everything is meaningless… a chasing after the wind.” We won’t find peace in the world. Jesus tells us that. We won’t find peace within because of sin in our nature and because of memory and guilt. Peace is something we must receive from Jesus. He gives us his peace with his Word and with his Spirit.
- At the end of today’s Gospel, Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you. My peace I give you. Not as the world gives do I give to you.” How does the world try to give peace? Along with that question, we have to ask, “How do we often try to seek our peace apart from Christ and his Word?” I think the world and our human nature try to find peace by trying to find satisfaction. In our time, especially, our culture is trying to give people everything they want, hoping to satisfy and to give peace. “These people over here are shouting the loudest. Let’s give them what they want. Then we will have peace.” ~ ~ They shout loudly. We give them what they want. Do we then have peace? No. We have a bigger mess. Less peace. Less satisfaction. And as a society, we find ourselves farther from God and farther from peace. We try to find our own peace by trying to satisfy ourselves. We see the latest, coolest thing, and we decide that the new thing will make us happy. “I gotta get that.” You go online. You order it from Amazon.com and you have it in a day or two. When it comes you open that box with anticipation. And then you say, ‘”Boy, that’s small.” Or, “That’s not quite what I wanted.” It doesn’t satisfy. It solves no problems. It leaves you like King Solomon—feeling empty. That’s why Jesus says, “Not as the world gives do I give to you.”
I. Jesus Gives Us His Peace with His Word.
- So what does Jesus give? How does he give peace? He gives peace with his Word. Not by telling us what we want to hear. That’s how the world tries to give peace. Jesus tells us many things we don’t want to hear. What? We’re fine Christian people, why wouldn’t we want to hear what Jesus says? Because we still have our broken human nature—our human nature that wants to worship self above all things. When Jesus says, “I am your Savior,” it means we need him because we can’t save ourselves. When Jesus says, “I am your Lord,” it means you and I aren’t supposed to be our own little bosses. This is where some of the bad things in life have a good effect (Romans 8:28). When we try to be our own bosses, we do as we please and then we see the consequences of it—then we see our need. A person tries to find peace in a bottle. Then they find that the peace lasts until the headache comes—the real headache or the headache of dealing with an OWI, a crash, a tragedy. A person tries to find peace by demanding satisfaction. “I’m not happy. You gotta give me this! You gotta do that!” and then someone blows a fuse, either the one demanding or the ones who are being pressed, and then something happens, and things are never the same. When we’re on the bottom, we realize we need a Savior. Sometimes that’s when the light goes on. That’s when the gracious words of Jesus finally make sense to us. “Come to me all who labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. My yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-29). If you are seeking your own peace, that won’t make any sense at all. When you are hard pressed by guilt, you know it’s what you need, what you want. “My peace I give you,” Jesus says. “I give pardon. I give peace. I forgive.” “Trust in God. Trust also in me” (John 14).
- “If anyone loves me, he will hold on to my word. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. 24 The one who does not love me does not hold on to my words. The word that you are hearing is not mine, but it is from the Father who sent me.” In the Seminary, they taught us to clearly distinguish law and gospel—what God commands or condemns, and what God promises. Here Jesus says “hold on to my word.” Really, he wants us to hold on to both, what he promises about forgiveness, life our connection to him. What he commands and condemns—for us Christians as our guide for holy living. We show our love by taking both to heart. Because we still have sin infecting our nature and infecting our lives, holding on to the Word of Christ is not easy. We will stumble in our Christian lives. –Really, it’s much worse for us, even than that. St. Paul writes that “the fleshly mind,…” that is the natural mind, the sinful mind, the mind all on its own, “…is hostile to God” (Romans 8:7). “It does not submit to God’s law, and in fact, it cannot.” That’s where Luther’s catechism gets that thought “I cannot by my own thinking or choosing believe in Jesus Christ my Lord, or come to him.”
II. Jesus Gives Us His Peace with His Spirit.
- “But the Holy Spirit has called me by the gospel, enlightened me with his gifts, sanctified and kept me in the true faith.” God’s Word works the way any other word or message works. We hear it and understand it. God’s Word also works supernaturally. The Holy Spirit is in the Word and gives it power beyond any natural or psychological response. The Holy Spirit created the Word by revelation, and he is also the power behind the Word. We confess that at the end of each lesson when we say “The Word of the Lord. Thanks be to God.” I think that is our shortest creed. It’s not Matthew, Mark, Luke or John’s word, or Peter or Paul’s word. “The Word of the Lord,” inspired by the Spirit. For the disciples, inspiration of the Scriptures worked as Jesus describes it here: “The Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and remind you of everything I told you.” Sometimes the Spirit’s inspiration was like the downloading of information from the Spirit to the writer. I think of Moses, who didn’t witness creation or the flood, but was able to write about them in detail. Or Isaiah, who didn’t have a time machine to go forward and witness the suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus, but he wrote about Jesus, “stricken, smitten by God and afflicted” (Isaiah 52-53). For the disciples, inspiration would be reminding them and guiding them in writing what they heard and learned from Jesus. That’s why Matthew, Mark, Luke and John seem to be written from different angles for different readers, but they have the same message. That message is the word that Jesus wants us to hold on to so that we may have peace.
- King David described receiving God’s gifts as having an overflowing cup. On Pentecost, when the disciples received the gift of the Holy Spirit, what happened? They spoke languages they hadn’t learned by the power of the Spirit. Tongues of flame appeared over their heads. But something just as important and spectacular happened. Their cups overflowed. The gifts they received they poured out to others. The others there said, “We hear them declaring in our own languages the wonderful works of God.” The gift of tongues was not a mere babbling for a dramatic effect. It was a gift given to meet the need—declaring the wonderful works of God to others who needed to hear it. When the Holy Spirit works outside of regular means, he is creating the means. Peter, who was timid and refused to speak about Jesus in the High Priest’s courtyard on Maundy Thursday is now empowered to speak about Jesus, to let his cup overflow to those around him—to share the peace of Christ in the Holy Spirit. On our own, we are powerless, too. But the Holy Spirit calls and enlightens and sanctifies us. He empowers us to love through the peace of Christ. He empowers us to change when we’re stuck in old patterns. He empowers us to live as God’s holy people—to hold on to his word and to keep it, that is, to live it. He gives us peace. The peace that surpasses understanding (Philippians 4:7). With Christ, taught by his Word and moved by his Spirit, we know who our God is, and we know who we are connected to him. We know about forgiveness. We know about purpose. We know about the power that doesn’t come from us, but comes to us. Power, love and peace, not just for you—but power, love and peace from Christ through his Spirit that flows through you, making you salt and light in the world.
John 14:23-27 (EHV)
23 Jesus answered …, “If anyone loves me, he will hold on to my word. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. 24 The one who does not love me does not hold on to my words. The word that you are hearing is not mine, but it is from the Father who sent me. 25 “I have told you these things while staying with you. 26 But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and remind you of everything I told you. 27 “Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, and do not let it be afraid.