6th Sunday of Easter May 14, 2023
Revelation 21:10-14, 22-23
212:1-5, 233, 215, 212:6-7
Hymns from The Lutheran Hymnal (1941) unless otherwise noted
Sermon Audio: https://podcasters.spotify.com/pod/show/ministrybymail
+ Alleluia! Christ is Risen! He is Risen, Indeed! +
Prayer of the Day: O King of glory, Lord of hosts, uplifted in triumph far above all heavens, leave us not without consolation but send us the Spirit of truth whom You promised from the Father; for You live and reign with Him and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
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.” (NKJV)
In Christ Jesus, who desires to bless us, dear fellow redeemed:
“How do I love you? Let me count the ways!” When asked how we show our love to others, we typically speak in terms of things that we do. A boyfriend points to the flowers he purchases for his girlfriend. A child points to the drawings taped to the refrigerator made especially for mom. A husband points to a dinner out for his wife, or a wife points out all of the efforts she puts into making the family house a home.
How do we show our love for our Savior? We cannot send Him a card expressing that love or invite Him over for dinner in honor of His birthday. Jesus provides the answer in our text, when He says, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word.” To “keep” Jesus’ word certainly means that we obey His teachings, as some Bibles translate these words, but it implies much more. To “keep” Jesus’ word means that we view His word as something precious, that we guard it, and that we treasure it in our hearts. When a person does this, Jesus says, “My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him.” Is that not a marvelous promise? God, who created the heavens and the earth, and Jesus, who gave up His life so that you might live, wants to move into your heart—to be close to you and to bless you. Let us consider that thought today: “GOD WILL MAKE HIS HOME WITH YOU AS YOU TREASURE HIS WORD! Rejoice, therefore, in His presence, in His peace, and in His promise!”
For most people, there is nothing more terrible than the thought of being all alone and abandoned. Is there a more pitiable cry in all of Scripture than those words of the Psalmist David, “My God, My God why have You forsaken Me?” (Psalm 22:1)—the very words later uttered by our Savior as He suffered on the cross for us? Far from being abandoned by God, however, Jesus tells us that He and His Father want to make their home with us—to be close to us, to comfort us, to bless us. In addition, He tells us that “The Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to remembrance all things that I said to you.”
God the Father and Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to be His disciples’ Helper beginning on Pentecost. He remains the “Helper” of New Testament believers today. Jesus specifically promised His apostles that the Spirit would bring to their remembrance Jesus’ words. This is a promise regarding the inspiration of our New Testament Scriptures. We can be confident that when we read our Bibles, we are not reading the mere opinions of men, but rather the revealed truths of God. Through those truths the Holy Spirit teaches us all that we need to know regarding our salvation and Christian life. Paul asserts this in his second letter to Timothy, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17)
On a very practical note, you no doubt have heard and may be following the debates going on within our society and various Christian denominations regarding homosexuality and gay marriage. Unfortunately, the visible Christian church in the United States is divided on these issues, but not because the word of God is unclear. The Bible clearly condemns homosexual activities (cf. Leviticus 20:13), even as it does the sins of adultery (cf. Exodus 20:14) and fornication (cf. Hebrews 13:4). The Bible clearly defines marriage as the life-long union of one man and one woman (cf. Matthew 14:4-6). However, when individuals plug their ears to the Spirit’s prompting and reject the clear teachings of Scripture confusion reigns.
Let us, therefore, treasure God’s word, for then our Savior God—the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit will make their home in our hearts. The apostle Paul addresses the practical consequences of this blessed state as He seeks to encourage us through His words to the Ephesian Christians. He writes, “The Father…would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height—to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.” (Ephesians 3:14,16-19) God wants us to know His love, so that we might live our lives with joy and confidence. God’s love for us in Christ is truly amazing, for it is a love, we cannot fully understand in our fallen state, but which nonetheless is able to build us up and draw us ever closer to His strong arms! Yes, GOD WILL MAKE HIS HOME WITH YOU AS YOU TREASURE HIS WORD! Rejoice, therefore, in His presence!
Rejoice, as well, in His peace! Jesus tells us, “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.” Peace—how we long for peace in Ukraine, throughout the Middle East, in Central Africa, and on the Korean Peninsula, for then our military personnel could come home. Then our young men and women would no longer have to die. Then perhaps we could focus on other issues that confront our nation. Yet, such a universal political peace is not the destiny of this world. Jesus informs us that there will be “wars and rumors of wars” until the end of time (Matthew 24:6). That is because by nature the human heart is corrupt (Matthew 15:19), and in view of that fact, the apostle Paul has warned us, “In the last days perilous times will come: for men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God.” (2 Timothy 3:1-4) Can anyone deny, if you read the newspaper or listen to the evening news, that we are certainly in the last days Paul describes?
Yet, you and I can rejoice in Jesus’ peace. It is not like the peace of the world which is given, but then taken away and broken when self-interest leads to a change in policy. No, it is a peace, first and foremost, between you and your God. It is a peace based upon the atoning work of Jesus Christ, by whose life and death the barrier of sin between us and God has been removed. We have peace with God through our Lord Jesus, and that peace leads us into a confident relationship with our Savior God. He assures us that He is with us (Matthew 28:20) and, in fact, holds us in His powerful hands (John 10:28). God urges us to “call upon Him in (our) days of trouble” (Psalm 50:15) with the full assurance that He will hear, respond, and deliver us. It is that peace with God, which then leads to a growing peace with others. Jesus urges us to “love one another, as (He) has loved (us)” (John 13:34) and to “forgive one another, even as God in Christ forgave (us).” (Ephesians 4:32) This peace becomes the dynamic reality of our lives as we apply it every day in our every relationship. As we listen to the word of our Savior and in faith apply those truths in our lives, we will experience the Lord’s blessing and have every reason to rejoice. Yes, GOD WILL MAKE HIS HOME WITH YOU AS YOU TREASURE HIS WORD! Rejoice, therefore, in His peace!
Rejoice, as well, in His promise! Jesus says, “You have heard Me say to you, ‘I am going away and coming back to you.’ If you love 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.” Jesus spoke these words on Maundy Thursday evening. It could be said that He went away from His disciples the very next day when He died, and that He returned to them again three days later on Easter Sunday. Yet, this is not the matter to which Jesus is referring. Rather, He is talking about His return to the right hand of God—His ascension into heaven, at which time He withdrew His visible presence from all His disciples on this earth. He will return, visibly, even as He has promised at the end of time, on the last day.
Knowing that Jesus has returned to the glory due Him in heaven; knowing that He is with His Father preparing a place for our future; knowing that He is watching over us and guiding us in accordance with His gracious and good plans ought to cause us to rejoice! Once again, the knowledge of these truths gives us reason to hope and have confidence. We have not been abandoned in this world—forgotten by God and left to the haphazard circumstances of a history left to fate.
We are also not a people left without purpose. Our world seems to be content with no other purpose than satisfying personal wants and desires. Think about all the time and effort people put into simply acquiring things—things which break, rust, and fade away, only to be replaced by other things that break, rust, and fade away. We Christians must be so careful that we do not become sucked into the pattern of the world, for we have been called to a higher purpose. That purpose is to serve—to serve God as His disciples and to serve others in the hundreds of various callings we enjoy.
This once again brings us back to the importance of “keeping” Jesus’ word—treasuring those truths, which provide the basis for our lives and direction in our lives. By treasuring the truths of the Bible and applying them in our lives, we show our love for God. As you and I treasure God’s word, we may rest assured that GOD WILL MAKE HIS HOME WITH YOU! Therefore, rejoice in His presence, in His peace, and in His promise! 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.