The Sixth Sunday After Easter June 1, 2014
219, 392, 296, 212(1,6-7)
Hymns from The Lutheran Hymnal (1941) unless otherwise noted
Jesus answered and said to him, “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. He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine but the Father’s who sent Me. 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. You have heard Me say to you, ‘I am going away and coming back to you.’ If you loved Me, you would rejoice because I said, ‘I am going to the Father,’ for My Father is greater than I. And now I have told you before it comes, that when it does come to pass, you may believe.”
“I did not remember you said that!” That’s the sort of thing I will say to my wife several times a week. It’s the sort of thing a student will say to a teacher, “I did not remember you told us to write a two page book report!” Think of how many words have been spoken to you in your lifetime. More than it is possible to count. Then think of how many of those words you still remember. You don’t remember everything that has ever been said to you. There is too much and some words you are even better off not remembering. But what we do want to keep in mind are those things that have been told to us that truly are important—things that are life-changing, in fact.
Jesus knew that soon after His resurrection from the dead He would ascend to His Father in Heaven and He would no longer be seen on the earth. But He wanted His disciples to remember the things He had said to them. These words were important and life-changing. They would need to keep them in mind in the days ahead. So before He departed from them, Jesus spoke to His friends, reminding them that He was leaving them, with words to remember. Let’s consider: JESUS LEAVES US WITH WORDS TO REMEMBER and how those words are a part of our lives. They are I. Words worth treasuring, II. Words that the Counselor keeps before us, and III. Words that give us peace.
Jesus had told His disciples many important things during the time He was with them, but the words He especially wanted to stick with them are recorded for us in John 14. The Lord said to them “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions…I go to prepare a place for you.And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also” (John 14:1ff). A little later, Jesus adds: “I go to My Father” (John 14:12).
With His words Jesus communicated to His disciples two important things He wanted them to remember. One, Heaven was prepared for them and He would come back someday and take them to be with Him. Two, He wanted them to understand that soon they would no longer see Him because He would return to His Father’s side.
These words were life-changing for the disciples. They learned that they did not have to fear anything that might happen to them in this life because Jesus was going to return, raise them from the dead, and give them a new and better life with Him. Their lives could be lived now in confident expectation that their Master would come back for them and any troubles they presently faced were really momentary. They could also face the coming years knowing that although Jesus would be gone from their sight, He had not forgotten about them. Rather, He was working with His Father in Heaven for their good and would bring them to eternal glory. Life without fear and with a confident hope in the future is what Jesus’ words meant for them. These were the words He wanted them to remember.
Jesus earnestly told them to cling to these words. “If anyone loves Me, he will keep (lit. treasure) My word,” Jesus said. [v.23] Jesus emphasizes that those who love Him will consider His words to be valuable—they watch over them and guard them like one would guard precious jewels.
The words Jesus leaves with us are words that are worth treasuring. They are the very words of God as He pointed out. They are not only His words, but they are the words of the Father in Heaven too. They are words that are worth more than the words of men.
Many words that are spoken are not worth remembering: words spoken in anger, words that tear down rather than build up, words that give us bad advice or lead us away from God. But Jesus’ words are treasures to us. The message that He will come again and take us to Himself—that is a word worth hanging on to.
Will we remember the words Jesus has left us? Will we remember them when it really counts, when we really need to keep them in mind?
Often we could save ourselves a lot of grief and anxiety if we would remember Jesus’ words at the right time—If we thought of His words of warning when we were about to do something sinful or harmful to our faith; if we remembered His words, “Your sins are forgiven you,” when we were troubled about something wicked we had done; if we called to mind the joy that is set before us in Heaven when we were despondent.
Jesus told His disciples that the Holy Spirit would help them to remember His words. He said, “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.” [vv.25-26] The Holy Spirit, the Helper, would be actively working in Jesus’ disciples, leading them to remember what He said to them.
The Spirit of God is not just an impersonal “force” or an “energy” like electricity which powers things but has no ability to think or perceive. The Holy Spirit is true God—one of the persons of the Godhead along with the Father and the Son. This Spirit thinks and acts and knows and understand and is God. And He, Jesus told His disciples, would remind them of the words that had been spoken to them.
The work of the Holy Spirit is to cause us to remember Jesus’ words and to trust them. He helps us to understand what has been spoken to us so that we rely on it. We are shown many times in Scripture how the Spirit worked in this very way.
For example, when Peter stood before the High Priest, we are told that he was “filled with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 4:8). Peter continued by speaking the Word of God and testifying how Christ had been raised from the dead and how salvation was to be found only in Jesus.
When Paul faced Elymas, the sorcerer, He was “filled with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 13:9) and brought the Word of God to bear.
The Holy Spirit keeps before us the things that Jesus has taught us so that we do not forget them, so that we are able to call upon those things and rely on them. How blessed we are that Jesus did not only leave us with His important words to remember, but that we also have God the Holy Spirit working in us leading us to understand them and to remember them!
The words that Jesus leaves with us, the words that are worth treasuring above all things, the words that the Counselor—the Holy Spirit—keeps before us, are words that also grant us peace in our lives.
There is a familiar Christian prayer that is used at the end of some church services. It is known as the “Collect for Peace” or the “Prayer for Peace.” In this prayer, we ask God to “give to us, Your servants, that peace which the world cannot give.” This is almost word for word from John 14:27 where Jesus told His disciples “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives.”
The words that Jesus leaves behind give peace to those who hear and trust them, but it is not the sort of peace that the world gives. What does our Savior mean by this?
When the world talks about peace, when governments sit down to have “peace talks,” or when they discuss bringing peace to troubled regions of the world, they are talking about trying to get people to stop fighting and killing each other. Many people understand peace as simply the absence of any outward, physical disruptions—No wars, no famines, no natural disasters, no diseases. The difficulty is that this sort of peace, if you can actually achieve it at all, never lasts very long and it is never very satisfying because even in times of peace, you are always wondering when the next thing is going to come along to upset the apple cart.
The peace the Jesus gives is deeper than the world’s peace. Jesus wants your heart to be at peace. He wants you to be calm and confident that all is well no matter what unrest may be around you in the world. This kind of peace can only come when you are at peace with God, when you understand that the troubles that come into your life are not God’s punishment for your sin—are not God's way of “getting back” at you. When you know you are right with God and will spend eternity with Him, then you have real peace, for then nothing on the outside can disturb your happiness and hope.
Jesus’ Word gives this very peace. Notice what the Lord said to His disciples: “my peace I give you.” He did not say, “I'll make your world a more peaceful place.” And He did not say, “Peace will come to you in the future.” He said, “I give it to you.” He was telling them that at that very moment, by His very words, they were at peace. That was the true state of things. They were right with God. Their sin before Him had been paid when He suffered and died for them on the cross. Their guilt had been wiped out. God’s wrath had been appeased. Jesus would return and take them to live forever in Heaven. They had peace—peace with God, peace of heart, peace of mind—it was all theirs. It is all ours too.
This sort of peace the world cannot give. Only Christ can grant this peace for only He has earned it for us.
Jesus has left us with words to remember, dear friends. Let’s treasure them, pray that the Spirit would keep them in our minds and in our hearts to give us peace.
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All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.