Pentecost May 23, 1999
224, 234, 235, 39
Hymns from The Lutheran Hymnal (1941) unless otherwise noted
Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him. He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings: and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father’s which sent me. These things have I spoken unto you, being yet present with you. But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you. Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. Here ends the text.
In the Name of Jesus Christ, Who speaks to us even today through His Word, Dear Fellow Redeemed,
Do you know what an “heirloom” is? It’s something valuable that’s handed down from generation to generation within a family. What are the heirlooms in your family? Maybe the family Bible that’s in your home was handed down to you by your parents. Perhaps some of you ladies own the silverware that your mother used to set her table with. If you’re a man, maybe you possess an old shotgun that used to belong to your father, or even your grandfather. In any case, you know what I’m talking about; you’re probably thinking of one of your own family heirlooms right now. Some heirlooms—like certain antiques—can be very valuable in themselves. Most often, though, our heirlooms are precious to us mainly because they remind us of the person we got them from. I have a ring, for instance, which was given to me by my Grandmother when I graduated from High School. She passed away a number of years ago, but the ring serves as a reminder to me of a very beloved member of my family.
We Christians are all members of Jesus’ family. He, too, has passed from our sight—for the time being, anyway. But our Savior has left us a very valuable heirloom. He has left us His Word. That precious heirloom is the subject of our text for today. On this festival of Pentecost, let’s allow the Holy Spirit to guide our thoughts as we consider the theme:
When these words of our text were spoken by Jesus to His disciples, He was still with them (obviously!) But not for long—the cross of Calvary was just around the corner. After His death and resurrection, they’d have forty days to spend with Jesus, before He would ascend back to the right hand of God. Then He’d be gone; physically gone, anyway. But Jesus wanted to comfort His disciples, and that’s why He said He was leaving them something—something to remember Him by! A precious heirloom, meant especially for the immediate members of His “family.” His Word.
The interesting thing about it, Jesus said, is that you can tell who the family members are by their attitude toward the heirloom. He said, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him. Jesus Word is always lovingly cherished by His family. Christians love God’s Word. That’s not a condition, and it’s not a command. It’s simply a fact.
My brother is a real golf enthusiast. He’s always reading some new book about golfing; he subscribes to golf magazines; he talks about golfing constantly, and of course he golfs every chance he gets. Now, I can’t read his mind, but I think it’s pretty fair to say that this guy loves golf. He could be faking, of course, but I sure doubt it! -The same thing’s true about the followers of Christ. If you see someone who reads Jesus’ Word, who comes to church to hear Jesus’ Word, who does everything he can to obey Jesus’ Word and live according to Jesus’ Word—well, chances are good that that person loves Jesus.
And the opposite is also true. Our Lord says, He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings It’s just a fact: a person who says, “I love Jesus,” and then proceeds to completely ignore God’s Word is simply a liar. Oh, you can live a life that ignores the Word of Christ, but then don’t turn around and say you love Jesus!—Not if you’re someone who very rarely even sets foot in God’s house. Not if you’re a person who leaves his Bible gather dust on the shelf from week to week. Not if you’re a wife who disobeys God’s command to submit to the authority of her husband. Not if you’re a husband who fails to love and cherish his wife. Not if you’re an unmarried person who indulges freely in the sexual relations that God has reserved for marriage. Not if you’re a child who disobeys his parents and back-talks them, when the Bible tells you to love and respect them. Yes, you can live like that if you want to. But don’t try and say you love Jesus; no one will believe you. Least of all God!
My friends, if a precious heirloom was handed to you, and you turned around and threw it in the trash can, what would that say about how much you cared for the person who gave it to you? Jesus has handed you His precious Word. If you don’t love and obey Jesus’ Word, then how dare you say that you love Jesus?
—Sharp words, aren’t they? Makes you want to hang your head, doesn’t it? I hope so, because the fact is that none of us can claim to have the kind of love for Jesus that we know we should have. What can we do about it? I’ll tell you: we can repent! Right here, right now, we can admit that we haven’t cherished the Words of our Savior as we should, and ask His forgiveness. He will give it! Then let’s turn to the One who can teach us to truly love Jesus’ Word—the Holy Spirit. If Jesus’ Word is our precious heirloom—then the Holy Spirit is the One who hands it down to us!
Jesus told His disciples, These things have I spoken unto you, being yet present with you. But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you. With these words, Jesus promised His disciples a special outpouring of the Holy Spirit. That promise was fulfilled in Jerusalem, on the day that we’re commemorating today as the Festival of Pentecost. As we heard in our New Testament reading, Pentecost was the day when the Holy Spirit filled the disciples, teaching them foreign languages and making them powerful preachers of the Gospel. Later, the Holy Spirit inspired the writers of our New Testament, calling to their minds all the precious words of Jesus. He guided their pens, so that every word—every syllable!—that they wrote came directly from God Himself.
But Jesus’ Pentecost promise wasn’t only for that handful of disciples—it’s for you, too. Jesus has also promised you the Holy Spirit. It’s a promise that was fulfilled at your baptism, when you first became a member of Christ’s family of believers. And it’s a promise that finds renewed fulfillment every day. Every time you open your Bible and read, the Holy Spirit is working in your heart, strengthening your faith. Every time you come here to listen to that Word being preached, the Holy Spirit is cultivating and enriching your love for Jesus, like a gardener, fertilizing a plant to make it grow taller and stronger, and to make it bear more fruit.
All those things Jesus said about the Holy Spirit to His disciples are true for us, too. The Holy Ghost is the one who hands down to us the precious heirloom of God’s Word. Our text says that He always comes to us “in Jesus’ name,” showing us that our hope for heaven lies in Christ, and in Him alone. It says that He “teaches us all things;” and that’s true, too! In the Holy Bible you’ll find the answer to most any question that’s troubling you. And if the subject isn’t explicitly discussed in Scripture, then you can trust the power of the Holy Ghost working through the Word to guide you to a God-pleasing solution. In I Corinthians, e.g., the Holy Ghost gives us a rule of thumb that works in just about any situation: “Whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” I Cor 10:31. If you follow that principle, you know you can’t go too far wrong!
Finally, Jesus pronounces to us today some of the most beautiful words in all of Scripture, Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you. Jesus’ Word is an heirloom that is especially valuable to us, because we know that it brings peace to all who possess it.
—That can’t be said about all heirlooms, can it? Many of the world’s greatest jewels, for instance, also have the longest history of violence and bloodshed. Wherever there is huge diamond or a priceless ruby, that’s where you’re also likely to find greed, robbery, or even murder. History proves that possession of such a gem is much more likely to bring sorrow than peace. Just the opposite is true about Jesus’ Word. This is one heirloom that can bring the recipient nothing but peace.
Isn’t that what we all want—peace? The whole world talks about it. Political candidates campaign on a promise to promote lasting peace in the world—but still the wars go on, don’t they? Fighting in the former Yugoslavia, international terrorism, violence in Rwanda, nuclear confrontation between India and Pakistan. The rulers of this world promise peace, but they don’t give it.
But Jesus says, on the other hand, Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. Jesus gives us a peace that is real, that we can see and feel in our lives every day. Is a good night’s sleep important to you? Well, Jesus’ blood lets you go to sleep peacefully every night, with a clear conscience. His Word gives you the peace of sins forgiven, and of transgressions blotted out. You have the peace of knowing that, because Jesus lived a perfect life in your place, and died on the cross to pay for your sins, your name is now written boldly across the pages of God’s book of life. Peace with God through Christ! Even for the worst of us sinners, God’s Word promises full forgiveness in Jesus’ name—guaranteed—and with no strings attached! What heirloom could be more precious to us than that? And who could fail to love the Savior who gave us that precious gift?!
Best of all, we know that the perfect peace of eternal happiness with our Savior is waiting for us just across the threshold of eternity. What have we left to fear? With the writer to the Hebrews “…we may boldly say, ‘The Lord is my Helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?’” Nothing. The lasting peace that Jesus’ Word gives us is the peach which casts out fear. May we ever look forward to the Day when we will realize that peace in the presence of our Savior himself. And until that Day, may we recognize Jesus’ Word for what it is: our most precious family heirloom! AMEN.
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All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the King James Version.