Monday, May 25, 2015

When the Helper Comes

26 “But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me. 27 And you also will bear witness, because you have been with me from the beginning.” (John 15:26-27 (ESV)
But I have said these things to you, that when their hour comes you may remember that I told them to you.“I did not say these things to you from the beginning, because I was with you. 5 But now I am going to him who sent me, and none of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’ 6 But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart. 7 Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. 8 And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: 9 concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; 10 concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; 11 concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged. 12 “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. 13 When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. 14 He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. 15 All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you. (John 16:4-15 (ESV)

“But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me.”
It is the coming of the Helper we celebrate today, both in this anniversary of the Pentecost day in which the Spirit fell upon the disciples like a tongue of fire enabling them to give voice to the living word of God and the salvation of man in Jesus Christ, and in the baptism of Embryn who here in these waters has received the gift of the Holy Spirit and life everlasting in accordance with Peter’s great Pentecost sermon in which he tells not only  the inhabitants of Jerusalem, but all Christians everywhere that Baptism is for you and for your children. It makes sense doesn’t it? That Baptism, the birth of water and the spirit by which we are born again should offer salvation and eternal life not only to those children of God whose jaded hearts and skeptical minds are the product of years of abuse by the world, but also for these little ones whose faith Jesus admonishes us to have when he says that “unless we become like children you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” This is the work of the Holy Spirit, to bear witness to Jesus Christ, in water, word and blood, and thereby to convict the world of sin, righteousness and judgment, and thus to enter us into the kingdom of heaven.
This he does by bearing witness to Jesus Christ who became man for us men and for our salvation, who died in our place on the cross, and rose for our justification. This is why, in fact there is so little preaching about the Holy Spirit in Lutheran churches, because we take it for granted that the Holy Spirit is at work, not when we are talking about him, but when we are proclaiming Jesus Christ, when we like Paul can say we know nothing but Christ and him crucified. We know the Holy Spirit is at work in and through the word, in and through the sacraments of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper. We trust it is so because he tells us it is so through that selfsame word he proclaims through Peter and Paul when he inspires them with the gospel of Jesus. They Holy Spirit proclaims Christ, because it is Christ who became man, it is Christ who took upon himself the sins of the world, it is Christ who carried the burden of our sin on his back in the form of a cross, it is Christ in whom God dwelt bodily and reconciled the world to himself on the cross. Christ who rose from the dead, who ascended into heaven, and it is Christ who will return to judge the living and the dead. And this is the message with which the Helper, the Paraklete, the advocate comes to convict the world with, to convict you and I who receive the Holy Spirit that the world cannot receive, cannot welcome, because the world has crucified Jesus whom the Holy Spirit glorifies as he blows where he pleases.
This is why we look a bit skeptically when and where the Spirit is being emphasized, where gifts of the Spirit are given priority. They are gifts of the Holy Spirit, and when they are given by the Holy Spirit they are not there to draw attention to themselves but to bring focus upon Jesus. They are not given for the purpose of bragging, or making a show. It was this sort of thing that Simon the Magician saw and coveted. That sort of thing for which Peter condemned him. He wanted the Spirit for his own personal use, to be beckoned at will to do his bidding. But the Spirit is not here to do our bidding, but the bidding of the Son who sends him and the bidding of the Father from whom he also proceeds. And this bidding is the will of the Father who desires all men to be saved and come to the knowledge of truth that is his name. And to this end, the gifts of the Holy Spirit are not always the great and spectacular shows of force you find in the book of Acts, the speaking in tongues that people of other languages may hear you in their own language. No, sometimes the gift of the Holy Spirit is boldness to speak the name of Jesus in the face of opposition, the ability to comfort with the gospel in the face of affliction and persecution, sometimes it is the ability to administrate well and use the treasures of the church properly, sometimes a cheerful heart with which to support the ministry of the church financially, but most of all the joy of salvation that floods the heart with the living waters of faith, hope and love by which we abide.
Now the peace of God that surpasses all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord.  Amen.

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