“Jesus Sends the Holy Spirit”
(John 14:25-27 – Pentecost – May 20, 2018)
John 14:25-27 – “These things I have spoken to you while being present 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 things that I said to you. Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”
Dear Redeemed in Jesus Christ:
How do we know we are connected to God? How do we know that we have a relationship with God the Father as His children? How do we know that we are joined with His Son as heirs of eternal life? We cannot see the Father. And though His Son was seen in the world through His life, death, resurrection, and until His ascension, today we cannot see Him. How do we know that He is real, and that we are receiving His promised gift of salvation and eternal life?
We know because He sent His Holy Spirit to convict us of the truth and give us saving faith. Romans 8:16-17 says: “The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs – heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ.” But let us not mistake the Spirit’s bearing witness with our spirit with mere emotions. The Spirit’s witness is not simply a heartwarming or charismatic experience we can point to, when we just knew we were saved because we felt so good. We experience many highs and lows in life. But the Spirit’s witness is not so fickle that our assurance of salvation rises or falls with passing emotions.
In our text, Jesus tells how the Spirit bears witness with our spirit – namely in His teachings. The Spirit speaks to us in the unchanging words and promises of Jesus in Scripture to give us certainty of our salvation in His name. It is by this Word alone that we are given the peace Jesus won for us, which nothing else in the world can give us. On this day of Pentecost we see how “Jesus Sends the Holy Spirit”: 1) To teach us His Word and 2) To give us His peace.
1) To teach us Jesus’ Word
Here, Jesus is in the upper room with His disciples the night before His death. He is preparing them for His departure, as soon He will go to the cross. But He has told them that He would come back. After His resurrection, He would appear to them over a period of 40 days until His ascension. Then they would see Him no more as He returned to His Father’s right hand in glory. However, Jesus assured them that it would actually be to their advantage that He went away; for now they would receive the Holy Spirit in a special way (John 16:7).
As He says: “These things I have spoken to you while being present 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 things that I said to you.” The Holy Spirit would remind the disciples of all that Jesus had said during His earthly ministry, things they may have forgotten or had not yet grasped. The Spirit would give them full understanding of all that Jesus had taught and accomplished as the Savior of sinners.
The fulfillment of Jesus’ promise is seen in Acts 2:1-11, with the outpouring of the Spirit on the disciples on the day of Pentecost. From that time forth, we see the Spirit giving the apostles special understanding. Now they could fully grasp and teach how Jesus fulfilled all the prophecies of Scripture through His death, resurrection, and ascension. We also see a new Spirit-given boldness in the apostles. No more did they hide behind locked doors in fear of enemies of Jesus’ Gospel, but they openly preached salvation in His name.
On that first Pentecost, the Spirit led Peter to preach to a large crowd. He preached the Scriptures, showing their fulfillment in the crucified and risen Christ. He showed the people that by their sins, they were guilty of the blood of the Lord Jesus. By that word of condemning Law, the people were convicted by the Spirit and cut to the heart. They asked: “What shall we do?” Now Peter preached the comforting Gospel:“Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” Then by the Spirit’s power: “those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them. And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers” (Acts 2:37-38, 41-42). So as Jesus sent the Spirit, He brought great blessing on His apostles; and through their teaching of His Word, He blessed His growing Church.
Not only would the Spirit remind the apostles of all Jesus had taught and fulfilled according to the prophecies of the Old Testament; Jesus says: “He will teach you all things.” The Spirit would continue to provide the prophecies of the New Testament through the apostles’ writings. As Jesus goes on to say in John 16:13: “When He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come.”
“All Scripture is given by inspiration of God” (2 Timothy 3:16) – breathed into the holy writers by His Spirit. The apostle Peter attested: “No prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit” (2 Peter 1:20-21). Not only was it true with the Old Testament prophets; but the apostle Paul said about the New Testament apostles: “Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God. These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches” (1 Corinthians 2:12-13).
Therefore, whenever we read or listen to what the Bible says, it is not the unreliable words and opinions of men. It is the words of God’s Spirit, as Jesus says: “the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name.” It is the words and promises of the Triune God, which are infallible and inerrant and therefore absolutely trustworthy.
Jesus continues to send His Spirit today, just as powerfully as He did that first Pentecost and in the apostolic Church. Just as then, the Holy Spirit continues to work through the Gospel of Jesus Christ as the power of God unto salvation for everyone who believes (Romans 1:16). For this reason, more and more souls are brought into His Kingdom.
We give all credit to the Holy Spirit for giving us saving faith. For “No one can say that Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Spirit” (1 Corinthians 12:3). Jesus sent His Spirit to teach and convict our hearts through His Word, to give us faith and spiritual life. Jesus said in John 6:63: “It is the Spirit who gives life… The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life.”
But first, in order to give us life in Christ, the Holy Spirit must put us to death. By the Word of God’s Law, the Spirit convicts us of our sin and condemns us. He shows us that the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23). By the written Law, the Holy Spirit teaches us God’s commands; and when we break them, the Spirit testifies with our spirit: “You know better than that! The way you are acting, the way you are speaking, even the way you are thinking – you know in your conscience that this is wrong; and by your sin, you are guilty of the blood of Jesus!”
Then having convicted us and cut us to the heart, the Holy Spirit does His primary work. Through the Word of God’s Gospel, He comforts us and heals us by His gift of forgiveness and salvation in Christ. The Holy Spirit shows us that Jesus has fulfilled the Law in our place; therefore, He has become our Righteousness before God. The Holy Spirit shows us that God sent His own Son to the cross with all our sins, to receive condemnation and death in our place; therefore, Jesus’ cleansing blood washes away all our sin and we are reconciled to God in peace.
Just as on that Pentecost long ago, Jesus continues sends the Holy Spirit to give us true repentance and saving faith through His Word. He has poured out His Spirit on us in Baptism, “the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit” (Titus 3:5-6). He has sent His Spirit into our hearts as a seal, guaranteeing our eternal inheritance with Him (2 Corinthians 1:22; 5:5). Jesus will continue to send the Holy Spirit to teach us all things, and to strengthen our faith through His Word and Sacrament, until He takes us to His Father’s side in heaven.
2) To give us Jesus’ peace
Therefore, Jesus sends the Spirit to give us His peace, the confident assurance that all is well for us in His salvation. As Jesus prepared His disciples for all that was to come, in connection to His promise to send the Holy Spirit, He said: “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”
The world says: “You can have peace as long as there is absence of war and conflict in your life. You can have peace as long as you have good health, money, and all the things you want. You can have peace through oneness with nature, quiet meditation, and self-help. You can have peace as long as you feel you have done your best before God and men.” But all worldly foundations will crumble. We will not always live the way we wanted to or should have. The world’s kind of peace does not give us hope beyond the grave or assurance of eternal life.
But the peace Jesus gives us is not based on how things are going for us in this world. The peace He gives is based on His rock solid, unfailing promises. His peace is based on His completed work of saving us from sin and death. As the Holy Spirit conveys Jesus’ Word to us in Scripture, our hearts are filled with the blessed assurance of our salvation.
Look at that word Jesus uses to describe the Holy Spirit: “Helper.” The Greek word (Paraclete) pictures one who is called to your side to give comfort and counsel. It reminds me of what happens when a child cries out at night in fear. That child’s mother comes to his side, holds him close to her heart, and soothes him with a comforting voice. And soon, that little child is again peacefully at rest.
In a similar way, Jesus sends the Holy Spirit to give us help and comfort. When our hearts are troubled and we are afraid, the Spirit draws us close to the loving heart of our God and Savior. When we do not know what to pray, “the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered,” making all our needs known to Him (Romans 8:26-27). The Spirit soothes us with the comforting voice of Jesus: “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).
When we feel convicted with guilt and sorrow over our sins, perhaps wondering how we can ever be forgiven, who is it that comforts our restless souls with Jesus’ peace? It is the Holy Spirit, bringing to remembrance the familiar words of Jesus. This heavenly Helper, whom God has placed in our hearts, is present to reassure us that Jesus has died on the cross for all our sins. Therefore, we are completely forgiven and reconciled to God in peace, as His beloved children in Christ.
When we are troubled over how things are going in life, maybe wondering how it will ever work out right, who is it that comforts our restless souls with Jesus’ peace? It is the Holy Spirit, again bringing to remembrance the familiar words of Jesus. This heavenly Helper is present to reassure us that God, who so loved us that He gave His Son to die for us, is still working all things for our good. Therefore: “neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39).
How blessed we are as Jesus sends the Holy Spirit to teach us His Word and give us His peace! The Spirit enables us to say: “The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7).
Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be. Amen.