Pentecost May 15, 2016
235(1-3), 231, 234, 235(7-8)
Hymns from The Lutheran Hymnal (1941) unless otherwise noted
[Jesus said to His disciples], “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.
The disciples were restless. They were gathered with Jesus in Jerusalem just hours before His arrest and crucifixion—and He was talking about His departure. “I am going,” He said, and He was. He would soon go to the mansions of His Father. He would soon ascend into the clouds and they would see Him no more.
The disciples were restless. Thomas said, “We don’t know where you’re going! We don’t know the way! How can we follow you?” Jesus said to Thomas “I am the way…no one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:5-6).
Philip was restless too. “Lord, show us the Father” (John 14:8), He pleaded. Jesus responded: “Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me?” (John 14:10).
The disciples were restless. They had concerns about Jesus leaving them. They did not fully understand what was going to come next, or how they would follow Him. Nor did they fully understand the meaning of the things He was saying to them.
They were fearful and restless in their hearts about the future, but the leaving could not be delayed. It was time for Jesus to go. Yet, He did not leave them without comfort. The words Jesus spoke to his restless disciples still resonate with us today and help to calm our own hearts. So let’s explore how these disciples’ restless hearts were set at rest: I. Through the peace that Jesus gives and II. Through the Spirit the Father sends.
Jesus told His disciples “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you” (v. 27).
Who doesn’t want peace of mind—especially when our lives are in turmoil, when we’re worried about this or that and our minds don’t want to give us any rest? When we look around us and think, “What bad thing will happen next?” we want our hearts to be at rest. We don’t want to feel afraid and be struck with worry and concern all the time. But from where does peace of mind come?
Many try to set their minds at rest by doing whatever they can to establish outward peace for their lives. Nations try to suppress uprisings and revolts. World leaders try to make “deals” with each other not to go to war. Everyone talks about “peace on earth” and runs after it as though it is the answer to everything. But even achieving outward peace does not necessarily put people at rest inside, for even in times of relative calm people will always be wondering, “Will the good times last?” We know things can always happen to “upset the apple cart.” The Devil and our sinful human nature will always be knocking at the door seeking to ruin whatever good can be established. We need something stronger than the world’s peace to set our hearts at rest.
So Jesus leaves His friends with the words “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” (v. 27).
Jesus gives a greater peace of mind than the world can give. The world’s peace is, “Get rid of the troubles and you’ll be at peace.” Jesus’ peace is, “I will be with you, no matter what the trouble is in the world.”
Jesus gives peace to our hearts because He has secured our futures so that the threats of today begin to lose their grip over us. His peace is rooted in His cross and His empty tomb. That is the ultimate source of this peace that He gives to us for Jesus took it upon Himself to deliver us when we were trapped in slavery to our sin. On His cross He died for our guilt, taking our place of condemnation before the righteous judgment of God; and by His resurrection Jesus showed that He had defeated death and opened the way for us to rise from death and live forever. Because of Jesus, the world and it’s troubles have no power to defeat us, and our minds can be at rest. As Paul says in the letter to the Romans: “I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39 NIV).
When we are restless, Jesus says, “My peace I give to you.” He says, “I tell you that you are more than conquerors. I tell you that your enemies cannot hurt you in the end. I tell you that you are forgiven and I will see you through this life and you will live and reign with me.”
We need the kind of peace Jesus gives to us. He sets our restless hearts at rest by showing us we can be confident no matter what may come because our futures are secure in Him.
But you know what, we forget. When the pressure is on we so easily lose sight of Jesus’ peace and we become afraid again when we should not be and discouraged again when we should not be. The concerns of the day choke us and seem overwhelming even when we know that we are safe forever with our Lord. The disciples would suffer this too, so in addition to giving them His peace, Jesus also promised them a Helper. “…the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you” (v. 26 NIV).
The Helper, the Counselor, the Holy Spirit came just 50 days after Jesus rose from the dead. The disciples were gathered together in one place when a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven. What looked like flames of fire came to rest on each of them, and the Holy Spirit enabled the apostles suddenly to speak in other languages so that the gathering crowds could hear the wonderful works of God proclaimed in their native tongues.
“What does this mean?” the crowds asked. Peter stood up and explained—not only explained what was happening, but explained from the Scriptures what was going on. Peter quoted the prophet Joel in telling about the day of Pentecost! (cf. Acts 2).
Remember those restless disciples in the upper room whose hearts had been so afraid? Remember those restless disciples in the upper room who had not understood what Jesus was talking about? All is different now. Now, on the Day of Pentecost, not only do they stand up and speak boldly to the people who have gathered around, but they know what they are talking about. They understand the Bible better. They remember Jesus’ words. They “declare the works of God” (Acts 2:11), they point people to Christ’s resurrection from the dead, they lead them to repent of their sin and to trust in the Lord for forgiveness.
Thomas is no longer asking, “Jesus, how can we follow you?” Philip is no longer saying, “Where is the Father?” Their once-restless hearts are, obviously, at rest. Their former concerns have melted away. So had everything they were worried about turned around? Was there nothing left to cause them trouble or grief or sadness anymore? What had happened? Here’s what happened: God had come to His people. The Counselor had come, just as Jesus had said, to teach them all things and to remind them of what Jesus had said to them.
The Holy Spirit is the Counselor and Teacher who sets troubled hearts at rest by unwrapping for them the wondrous truths of God!
Yes, the Spirit of God is a personal being, the third person of the Trinity, equal with God the Father and with the, Son Jesus Christ—in fact, one with the Father and with the Son, but at the same time a distinct person, sent from the Father to teach and to remind us of what Jesus has taught us. The Holy Spirit is sent to open the Scriptures to us so that we understand and believe what our Lord has said. To lead our hearts from restless uncertainty, to confident hope in our salvation.
It is one thing that Christ died for our sins to save us from the punishment in Hell that we deserve. It is one thing that Jesus rose from the dead and promises, “Because I live you will live also” (John 14:19). It is one thing that we do not need to fear what happens to us here because our future is safe and secure in Heaven; but all of these things need to be taught to us and brought to our remembrance when we need them. That this is the special work of the Holy Spirit.
In Martin Luther’s tremendous explanation to the Third Article of the Apostles’ Creed he writes, “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 …”
The Spirit “turns on the light for us,” and causes us to see what Jesus has done. He causes us to see the gifts we have been given as children of God. The Spirit lets us know of the peace, happiness, and joy we have in our risen Savior.
When you open your Bibles, the Holy Spirit is there with you, helping you to understand, see, and believe what Jesus is teaching you.
When you come to church, the Spirit is with you in your worship.
When you are troubled in your heart, the Spirit is there with you to remind you that Jesus is with you always (Matthew 28:20), and that all things work for good to them that love God (Romans 8:28).
When you know that you desperately need help, but can’t articulate that need in a prayer, the Holy Spirit is there to take those prayers to your Father (Romans 8:26).
Whenever you are brought to see your sin and are led to repentance, or when you are comforted and helped, or when you are guided in your faith or in your Christian walk—that is the Holy Spirit, living and active in you.
So as it was for Jesus’ own disciples, our restless hearts are set at rest—through the peace that Jesus gives and through the Spirit whom the Father sends!
Pray today that the Holy Spirit would continue the good work that He has begun in you. Amen.
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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.
Scripture quotations marked (NIV) are taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. NIV®. Copyright© 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.