“The Peace of Pentecost” (John 14:23-31)

The Day of Pentecost
Sunday, June 9, 2019

“The Peace of Pentecost” (John 14:23-31)

Jesus tells his disciples: “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.”

How can you say that, Jesus? How can you tell your disciples to be at peace? You’ve just told them that you’re going away! And now they’re supposed to be OK with that? They’re just supposed to take it easy? Come on, Jesus, get real!

And how about us? Yeah, we here today. How are we supposed to be at peace? “Let not your hearts be troubled.” Yeah, right. You don’t know what I’m going through. And I’m supposed to have peace in all of this?

Well, yes. That’s kind of the point, isn’t it? Even when Jesus tells his disciples that he’s going away, and even in the midst of all our troubles, Jesus promises us the peace we need to sustain us and carry us through. And so this morning, on this day full of grace, we will be blessed to hear how we have “The Peace of Pentecost.”

Let’s set the scene. Our Gospel reading today is taken from Jesus’ Upper Room Discourse, which we find recorded in John chapters 14-16. This takes place on the night in which our Lord Jesus Christ would be betrayed. On Maundy Thursday, Jesus tells his disciples these things. He says he’s going to be leaving them shortly. Naturally, this sort of talk upsets them. They don’t want to hear about their master going away. So Jesus has to reassure them. There are things they don’t understand yet, as to why it is necessary for him to go.

“Let not your hearts be troubled.” He’s already told them once. Trust in God. Trust in me. We’ve got this. It’ll be alright. I’m going to my Father, and I’m going to prepare a place for you. Really, it will be all right.

Still, they’re confused and perplexed. They’ve been with Jesus these last few years, and they don’t want to see him go. They are his disciples, and he has been teaching them, astounding them with his compassion and wisdom, his authority and insight, his comfort and consolation. Jesus has been their helper, walking right alongside them. And now, he’s going away?

So Jesus does reassure them. He says, “I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth.” Notice that, “another” Helper. Jesus has been their helper these past few years. And now, he says, you’re going to get another Helper. Jesus is going to the Father, and the Father will send them this Helper. Jesus isn’t going to leave them as orphans, with no one to help. Another Helper is on the way.

Who is this other “Helper”? Jesus tells us in our text. He says, “the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name.” The Helper is the Holy Spirit, the Third Person of the Trinity. And the word here for “Helper” is interesting. It’s the Greek word “parakletos,” the Paraclete. A “paraclete” literally means someone who is called alongside you. A paraclete is someone who comes alongside you and gives you comfort or consolation or guidance or whatever help you need. And so this Greek word “parakletos” is sometimes translated as “Comforter,” “Counselor,” or “Advocate.” But “Helper” works just fine. The point is, the Paraclete is on your side.

And when would Jesus and the Father send the Paraclete? On Pentecost. “When the day of Pentecost arrived,” as we heard in the reading from the Book of Acts. Fifty days after the Passover–fifty days after Easter, as it is today–the risen and ascended Lord Jesus Christ poured out the Holy Spirit on his church. These same disciples who were so perplexed and fearful just seven weeks earlier now are boldly proclaiming the mighty works of God. The Spirit has come upon them to give them courage and boldness, to empower their witness about Jesus. And so this is the start of the church. Preaching Christ crucified and risen. Preaching repentance and forgiveness of sins. Faith. Baptism. Holy Spirit poured out on the baptized. A new church. Teaching, fellowship, the Lord’s Supper, worship and the prayers. It all gets going on this day when the Helper comes.

What did the Holy Spirit do for these disciples? Jesus had told them, “He will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.” And that’s what he did. We have the results of the Spirit teaching the apostles in the pages of the New Testament. At Pentecost, when the Spirit comes, now they understand what all this “going away” talk really meant. They realize that it was necessary for Jesus to leave them for a while. He had to go the cross and die, in order to save us, to atone for the sins of the world.

There was no other way for us sinners to be saved. We couldn’t do it ourselves. But God intervened to rescue us. He sent his only Son, Jesus Christ, to suffer and die as the perfect sacrifice for sinners. For you! Jesus did what you cannot do. You could pile up all your supposed good works from here to China, and it still wouldn’t be enough. But when Christ, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world–when the sinless Son of God sheds his holy blood on our behalf, we are forgiven, we’re cleansed, we are declared not guilty. The punishment has been paid. Justice has been served. Case dismissed.

And so now, at Pentecost, the disciples can declare that this same Jesus has risen from the dead, for death cannot hold him. God has raised this Jesus from the dead, and of that, they proclaim, we all are witnesses. At Pentecost, with the coming of the Holy Spirit, it all comes together for them, and they are now ready to spread the good news.

And we are here as a result. That gospel, that good news, spread over the world and found its way to us. We get the same good news that the apostles proclaimed. We get the same Holy Spirit that they received. The Helper is here to help us. The promise of the Paraclete did not stop at Pentecost. It continues today.

And so this is why I can talk to you about the peace of Pentecost. Because the peace that Jesus promised, when he said, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you”–this same peace is delivered to us thorough the ministry of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit works through means, the means of grace–the gospel in Word and Sacrament–to bring the peace of Christ to us. Through preaching, through teaching, through Holy Baptism, Holy Absolution, and Holy Communion, the Holy Spirit delivers the goods to our doorstep, with our names on the label.

This is how we know Christ. This is how we have his peace. We would not know Christ unless the Holy Spirit has first preached him to us. It’s like you learned in the catechism: “I believe that I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ, my Lord, or come to him; but the Holy Spirit has called me by the gospel, enlightened me with his gifts, sanctified and kept me in the true faith.”

How we need this help from the Helper, the Holy Spirit! Because we need Jesus. In him, in Christ, we have peace. “In the world you will have tribulation,” Jesus tells us, “but take heart; I have overcome the world.” In Christ, you have peace.

But how can you say that, Pastor? You don’t know the turmoil my life is in! But Jesus promises a peace that is good even in the midst of turmoil. It’s a peace that’s different from the kind the world can offer, which is dependent on one’s circumstances. If your finances are OK, if your health is OK, if your family is doing well–that’s the world’s definition of what makes for peace. But this peace runs much deeper than that.

The peace that Christ promises, the peace that the Spirit delivers–this is first of all an objective peace. It stands true no matter what your circumstances are. Because Jesus has established this peace in his body on the cross. Hanging there between heaven and earth, the crucified Christ made peace between God and man. The debt is paid, the sin atoned for. Christ has reconciled us back to God. That is an objective fact. It’s a done deal. And then with his resurrection from the dead, now we see that the victory has been won. The warfare is ended. Peace reigns supreme. That is a fact. It’s objectively true.

Let me make an analogy. You know, this past Thursday was the 75th anniversary of D-Day, June 6, 1944. On that decisive day, the Allied troops stormed the beaches of Normandy and gained a foothold in Europe. Thousands of men died that day, and thousands more would die in the year to come, before the final victory was realized. But the sacrifice on D-Day led to the inevitable result on V-E Day, victory in Europe. The war was essentially won on D-Day.

That’s how it is for us with the victory that Christ has already won. His sacrifice on Good Friday will lead to our final victory on the day when he returns. The war has already been won. To be sure, you and I will face battles along the way. We will fight the good fight of faith. But the victory is already ours. Because it’s Christ’s victory. And the Holy Spirit testifies to this triumph and the final outcome that we so look forward to.

And this, then, is what gives peace to our hearts, a subjective peace. Our subjective peace is based squarely upon the objective peace that Christ has already established. And this sense peace–peace of heart, peace of mind–this is a gift that the Holy Spirit works in us, as he preaches Christ to us and for us. Do you need this peace of mind, this peace of heart? Fix your eyes on Jesus.

So this is the peace of Pentecost. The Holy Spirit is here as your Helper, walking right beside you. He points you to Jesus, giving you the comfort and consolation you need, even in–especially in–the turmoil and tribulation of your life. This peace cannot be shaken. Jesus has established it. He has promised it to you. He gives it to you through the ministry of the Holy Spirit. The promise of the Paraclete did not stop at Pentecost. The Paraclete is on your side.

And this Helper, the Holy Spirit, will establish you in the sure promises of Christ. The Spirit will bring to your remembrance these words of Jesus: “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.”

The peace of God, which passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

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Published in: on June 8, 2019 at 5:39 pm  Leave a Comment  
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