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Pentecost Day Sermon — John 14:23-31 (LSB Pentecost C)

May 23, 2010

May 23, 2010 at Calvary Evangelical Lutheran ChurchMechanicsburg, PA



Jesus said: “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. Whoever does not love Me does not keep My words. And the word that you hear is not Mine but the Father’s who sent Me.”



The Lord Jesus speaks about keeping His word. He calls it a matter of love: “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word . . . . Whoever does not love Me does not keep My words.” What Jesus discusses is not hard to comprehend. You know about keeping things and discarding things. Every week in your curbside containers you have experience at it. Why do you keep something? Because it was hard to obtain or it’s valuable or it’s unique. Perhaps you have a special relationship with the one who gave it to you. Some reasons are quite logical: throwing away a valued item lowers your wealth; discarding something difficult to attain discounts your work. Others are quite illogical: kindergarten artwork or summer camp crafts have little worth, but the parent/child relationship grants it value beyond any dollar amount.



With Jesus’ word, all these aspects are true. His word is hard to obtain, unique, and valuable. And you have a special relationship with Him who gave it to you. That is exactly what Jesus says: “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. Whoever does not love Me does not keep My words. And the word that you hear is not Mine but the Father’s who sent Me.” The relationship with Jesus is described in the term love: this is what binds Jesus and His disciples and the Father with Jesus’ disciples. The value of Jesus’ words is described in what Jesus said about the keepers of His word: the Father and He will come to him and make their dwelling place with him.



This dwelling with His people is what Jesus promises to His disciples in the Upper Room. He says that He will be leaving: “You heard Me say to you, ‘I am going away, and I will come to you.’” Jesus will be leaving His disciples behind. He is going away, an event that we celebrated as the Ascension of Our Lord last Thursday. But note what Jesus also says: “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” Though Jesus is departing, He tells His disciples not to fear, not to be discouraged by this.



Why are they not to be afraid? Why should the disciples not be troubled? Jesus tells them that He is not leaving them alone: “These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. 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 that I have said to you.” Jesus’ followers will have the Holy Spirit with them. Jesus tells them what will happen: “And now I have told you before it takes place, so that when it does take place you may believe.” Jesus is leaving, but what He said is also true: “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.” God will still dwell with His people, even after Jesus has left.



The fulfillment of this great promise is what the Church celebrates on this Pentecost Day. What took place in Jerusalem so many centuries ago made good Jesus’ words. Those who heard Jesus’ promises looked for their fulfillment. They waited in Jerusalem, just as He told them to do. They expected the promised Helper. Why did they do this? Because they loved Jesus and were keeping His word: “When the Day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.”



There is the fulfillment of Jesus’ words! The Helper arrives, just as Jesus said. And the Helper does what Jesus promised: “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 that I have said to you.” The Holy Spirit empowers the disciples to go out and proclaim Christ’s word. Peter and the rest of the Twelve go and speak. They don’t speak their own wisdom, but they speak the words of Christ. On that Pentecost Day, they do just as their Lord commanded them: “baptizing people in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit and teaching them to keep all things that I have commanded you.” The Twelve keep Jesus’ word in their love for their Lord. And in His love, God makes His dwelling place with them.



But what happens on Pentecost is not limited to that day. Nor is it limited to the Twelve only. For when they proclaim the word of Christ, as they “began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance,” the crowds heard it. The word of Christ came to the crowds for them to keep. Note the reaction of the crowds: “And at this sound the multitude came together, and they were bewildered, because each one was hearing them speak in his own language. . . . We hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God.” They heard for themselves the mighty works that Jesus did for the world, just as He promised the Twelve: “I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming. He has no claim on Me, but I do as the Father commanded Me, so that the world may know that I love the Father.” Just as Jesus spoke, the world began to hear through the apostles’ Spirit-driven preaching on Pentecost.



The crowd at Pentecost received what the Twelve received. Knowing its value, knowing its power, knowing its uniqueness, knowing who gave it to them, the Twelve deliver Christ’s word to others, so they also could possess it. Hearing “the mighty works of God”—the life and actions that Christ accomplished, including His great resurrection from death—the crowds have Christ’s word made theirs. It was given to the crowds to believe. It was given to them to keep. It was given to them as the way that the Lord God makes His dwelling place with them. It is given to the multitude to bring them from death to everlasting life.



And that is where this event begins to involve you. For you are like that Pentecost multitude. The word of Christ has been given to you. It has been given to you as a great possession, as the way of life. It has been given to you by the Holy Spirit, so that you are made Christ’s people. It brings life to you. It brings knowledge to you. It brings divine love to you. Through it, the promise that Christ made to the Twelve is extended to you: “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. Whoever does not love Me does not keep My words. And the word that you hear is not Mine but the Father’s who sent Me.”



The keeping of Jesus’ words is a matter of love. Love is more than an emotion. It is a divine characteristic. But it is made yours because of the transformation that the Holy Spirit makes in you, just as He transformed the crowds in Jerusalem through the apostles’ proclamation. Jesus’ words in the Upper Room are meant for you: “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give you. Not as the world gives to I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” There is much to fear as sinners. You should rightly fear the wrath of God, anger like was shown upon the people of Babel for their disobedience. But through “the mighty works of God” done by Christ, you need not fear. You have been delivered from sin. You have the life that Christ has achieved given to you. You have the wisdom of salvation granted to you by the Holy Spirit.



Jesus has gone to the Father and has been received by Him, confirming that His work has been well pleasing. So you need not fear. For the Holy Spirit has taught you all things and has brought to your remembrance all that Christ has said, especially His statements that He has atoned for your sin, that He has overcome this world, that Satan has no claim on Him or His people, and that He has opened up Paradise for you. So your hearts need not be troubled, but may rejoice at what Christ has done for you.



The Holy Spirit especially reminds you of what Jesus said to His followers in the Upper Room: “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. Whoever does not love Me does not keep My words.” All the good things that Christ has earned—forgiveness of sins, life, salvation—come to you through His words only. The Father loves those who keep Christ’s words. God makes His dwelling place with those who keep Christ’s words. That’s how it works. There’s no other way that the Lord God has revealed. So you must be where Christ’s words are spoken, so that you may hear them. You must be where Christ’s words are given, so you may possess them and hold on to them. You must be where Christ’s words are found, where the Holy Spirit is, so that Christ and His Father may dwell with you.



The promise has been made and fulfilled: “The Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My Name, He will teach you all things and bring to remembrance all that I have said to you.” That is what takes place here where Christ’s word is found. For here “the mighty works of God” done for you are proclaimed, taught, and brought to mind by the Holy Spirit, so that you may love Jesus and be given the right to dwell with Him and His Father forever. That is what has been given to the Church, what you have been given by your Lord Jesus.



T In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

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