The Grace and Peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Let’s join in a word of prayer: This morning, God our Father, may your grace lift us from the grip of our challenges and insecurities to experience the peace that your Son, our Lord Jesus
Christ brings to us. May your Holy Spirit inspire us to renewed confidence. And may we here today recommit our lives and hearts to following your will, sharing your love for us, and living our lives of faith in your Son Jesus Christ. Gracious heavenly Father, hear our prayer for the sake of our risen Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. Amen.
The New Revised Standard Version quotes Christ Jesus saying, “Those who love me will keep my word, and my Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. Whoever does not love me does not keep my word.” (John 14:23-24 NRSV)
There was a young teen who came running into the house to her mother with a cuddle and a broad smile on her face, exclaiming: “Mamma, I love you sooo much!” The mother replied: “I am so glad you love me. It’s a pleasure to hear you say that. You know, that I love you too Sweetheart, I’ve had such a hard day, and I am so tired. If you love me so much, will you wash the dishes for me?” As her expression changed, the young teen replied: “I do love you, mom, but not in that way.” (—Unknown, from Henry Munro)
I suspect there are many in the world today who say that they love Jesus, but when Christ Jesus says, “If you love me, keep my word,” they say in their attitudes and actions, if not in their words, “I love you, Lord, but not in that way.”
Before his ascension, Jesus told the Disciples “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” (The Holy Bible: New International Version. (1984))
When Jesus was present, he was the one who instilled in the believers the right words, coached them through the proper attitudes, taught them the joy of doing the right thing. But as the disciples waited for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, I am convinced they would have spent their time in that upper room re-living all that Jesus taught them.
Words like those we find in the Gospel reading for today, “the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.”
Jesus tells his followers that the role of the Holy Spirit is, in effect, to remind us of Christ’s presence in our lives, as he asks us to keep his teaching.
Some of the work of the Holy Spirit is reminding the faithful of the truth, jogging the memories of the followers of Jesus Christ about all that he asks of us and all he will do to help us so that we can be who he has called us to be in love.
It may surprise us to think of the Holy Spirit in this way, as a quiet, active presence in our lives. Often the Holy Spirit reveals himself in the gifts and the fruit of the Spirit that are active in the believing and worshipping community. And indeed, the Holy Spirit of God does work in our lives and in our communities in so many ways.
‘The Holy Spirit is the person and the power of God drawing people to Christ to see with new eyes of faith. He is closer to us than we are to ourselves.
Like our eyes through which we see the world around us, we can only see our own eyes in the reflection of a mirror. The Holy Spirit is the one through whom all else is seen in the light of Christ, and we see Him clearly in the reflection of the love of God the Father and the grace of God the Son, Christ Jesus. Father and Son revealed in Scripture, and experienced in sacraments, through the presence of the Holy Spirit.’ ( Youngblood, R. F., Bruce, F. F., & Harrison, R. K., Thomas Nelson Publishers (Eds.). (1995). In Nelson’s new illustrated Bible dictionary. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, Inc.)
Jesus knows everything about us. He knows we are notoriously forgetful. Especially about Him. And so, at just the right time, God poured out his Holy Spirit upon all believers, to remind us of all that Christ Jesus Is and all that he has done for us.
We know that we are created to love God, and to care for one another, but as the pressure builds of living in our broken world, we sometimes forget who we are and the peace we receive from Christ Jesus, who said, ‘”Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”
It’s like one pastor who related of an experience of being so stressed over running a Church that he could not sleep. He went to visit a dairy farmer in the early hours of the morning, knowing that the farmer would be milking his cows at 4:30. As he unloaded his cares to this quiet Christian, the farmer just listened with compassion while milking the cows. After the pastor finished talking, the farmer said only one thing: “I always remember that God gives me only the work that he knows I can handle. So I raise my few crops, feed my pigs, and milk my cows, praising God. All the rest, I leave to God, accepting the peace he gives me.”
That pastor left the barn that day, praising God for the peace of Jesus Christ, he discovered in the dedicated farmer, and he was renewed in his passion and his mission to share the Gospel.
The minister and author, Matthew Henry, once said, “When Christ died He left a will, in which He gave His soul to His Father, His body to Joseph of Arimathea, His clothes to the soldiers, and His mother to John. But to His disciples, who had left all to follow Him, He left not silver or gold, but something far better—His Peace!”
The Holy Spirit led the Gospel writers to witness the precious words of Jesus and so much more. So that whoever has “eyes to see and ears to hear” would be joined with our Lord in this life and in the life to come.
Jesus warned the Disciples that the world would not accept the Holy Spirit, because it neither knows Him nor sees Him. I have come to understand and to accept that God’s Spirit always surrounds us. The challenge is that we can only recognise that we are covered over with God’s Spirit when we receive this truth in the Scriptures.
To come to trust Scripture. To have faith in it. To gain comfort from it. And to gain courage from it.
God has determined to work salvation in this way.
Jesus wanted the Disciples to have a reality to share. Their reality – and yet, also his reality. By God’s gift of the Holy Spirit, their witness became our Saviour’s witness. From the Scriptures, we discover that these two were inseparable. Throughout the New Testament, we discover God working in the world through disciples. He continues to work in the world today through each one of us.
We are Jesus’ disciples to our time and place. We can make his reality our reality too. Inseparable from our Creator, our Saviour, and our Counsellor.
By living our reality, with Christ Jesus at our centre, we can witness with our attitudes and actions, what our words often cannot say.
Peter offers us some helpful advice from his first letter, ‘Do not be frightened. But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.’ (1 Peter 3:15 NIV)
God, in His grace and glory, is calling out to each one of us to be living witnesses to the world. Witnesses that God can be trusted. Knowing that we have the help of God’s Holy Spirit, who is with us forever. And we have the grace and peace of our loving Saviour Jesus Christ. As Jesus says: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” Be at peace my brothers and sisters in Christ. AMEN.