ST. STEPHEN’S EVANGELICAL LUTHERAN CHURCH
Where God’s saving Word is taught in its truth and purity.
St. Stephen’s Evangelical Lutheran Church and School | Beaver Dam, WI | 920.885.3309
Where God’s saving Word is taught in its truth and purity.
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John 15:26-27; 16:4b-11
5/20/21; 5/21/21; 5/23/21
St. Stephen’s Lutheran Church—Beaver Dam, WI
Goodbyes can be hard. Parents drop off a child at college. They spend a few days getting putting the finishing touches on things before school starts. A bunch of trips to the grocery store make sure they have all the snacks they desire. A few more trips to Walmart to buy all the accessories for the dorm room. All too soon the time for goodbyes comes. Tears are shed. They know that they will see each other again on long weekends or holidays, but the sadness remains. Family members get together for a family gathering. When the time comes to say goodbye, it is hard. Some of the family might live a long distance away, so it will be awhile before they see each other again. Goodbyes can be hard.
Soon Jesus would say goodbye to his disciples. On this night of his betrayal Jesus prepared his disciples for what would soon take place. The disciples would soon see their Savior in ways they could not even begin to imagine. Sadness would overtake them when they would hear how Jesus died upon the cross. Joy returned when he rose. Yet Jesus knew he would not remain on this earth forever. He would ascend into heaven, a day we celebrated last week. The disciples would be sad. They no longer would see their Savior on a daily basis.
Even before all those things took place, the hearts of the disciples filled with sorrow on this night. The disciples wrestled with their emotions. They tried to wrap their minds around all the things Jesus spoke. They did not even want to think about having to say goodbye to Jesus. However, this goodbye was a necessity for Jesus to speak to the disciples. “It is good for you that I go away. For if I do not go away the Counselor will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you” (John 16:7).
When Jesus ascended to God’s right hand, he would send the Holy Spirit, who would proceed from both the Father and the Son. The Counselor would come to fill the grieving and troubled hearts of the disciples with joy and knowledge. Jesus needed to depart. He could not remain forever, but he would send the Holy Spirit who would testify to the disciples.
How would they know when the Holy Spirit would be sent to them? “When the Counselor comes, whom I will send to you from the Father-the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father-he will testify about me” (John 15:26). The Counselor would, he only could, testify about Jesus. The Counselor’s testimony would reflect the very same messages Jesus has been sharing with the disciples all during his earthly ministry. The disciples would receive a perfect knowledge about Jesus. The Spirit’s testimony would point to Jesus and his important work.
Only a little bit longer. The wait would soon end. Ten days after Jesus ascended, 53 days from the time Jesu spoke the words in our lesson, the Holy Spirit came upon the disciples with great power. On that day everything changed for them. They spoke in different languages. They understood so much more. The Holy Spirit filled in all the gaps for the disciples. Where they did not fully understand the teachings and prophecies of Jesus, they now knew perfectly. The Holy Spirit testified to the disciples all about Jesus.
The Holy Spirit testifies about Jesus to the world today. We ascribe to the Holy Spirit the work of bringing people to faith and sustaining them in their faith. He does not come in the spectacular way as he did on Pentecost with the sound of a strong wind, flames of fire, and the ability of speaking in tongues. However, his coming is no less extraordinary today. The Holy Spirit works through baptism to bring people to faith. With simple water connected to Christ’s command he creates faith. As God’s Word is taught in its truth and purity, the Holy Spirit works in people’s hearts. With the simple message of the gospel, the good news about Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection, he changes hearts.
The Holy Spirit’s testimony to us remains the same as it was to the disciples. The Spirit’s testimony is twofold. The Spirit convicts the world of their sins. Through God’s commands we see how far we have fallen. Our thoughts are not always pure. Our love for our neighbor is not genuine. Our attitudes do not reflect the love of Christ.
After our conviction, the Holy Spirit testifies to us all about Jesus. He points us to the cross of Christ where we find forgiveness full and free through Jesus. The Holy Spirit can only testify to this wonderful news. The Holy Spirit, part of the Triune God, testifies about the work of the Godhead to us. This is his testimony to us, which turns into testimony through us.
Jesus promised the disciples on this night that when the Spirit came upon them, they would receive an added dose of boldness. “And you also are going to testify, because you have been with me from the beginning” (John 15:27). On Pentecost the disciples would not remain in the house admiring the flames of fire above their head and playing a game of guess the language I am speaking. They went out into the city. The Spirit testified about Jesus through the disciples.
Jesus had been doing most of the heavy lifting up to this point. He preached. He sent the disciples out on a few mission journeys, but now it was the disciples’ turn. The disciples continued the work and mission of Jesus. They would go out and preach. The Holy Spirit would work through them and their testimony to bring many people to faith. As the disciples testified, the Holy Spirit worked and brought 3000 people to faith on that day.
Not much has changed from that day the Holy Spirit came upon the disciples. As the Holy Spirit fills our hearts testifying about Jesus, he also testifies through us to others. We can give many excuses as to why we will not want to testify. We do not know what to say. We do not know who to speak to. We do not have the courage to speak to others.
The Spirit overcomes all those fears and excuses. We might not have 3000 people come to faith, but we have one. We look for that one person to share Jesus with or encourage to remain steadfast in their relationship with Jesus.
Why do we do this? Because we love to be here. We cannot wait to come to our church to receive strength from the Holy Spirit. We enjoy our fellowship with our fellow believers. We want others to know that wonderful feeling.
What do we proclaim? We use the very same means the disciples did. We proclaim God’s Word. We testify about the very same Jesus who lived, died, and rose for all. What a wonderful message we possess as the Holy Spirit testifies through us.
The day of Pentecost gives us the opportunity to focus on the Holy Spirit and his work. His work is so important in the life of the Christian and the mission of the church. The Holy Spirit testifies to us. He proclaims the message of Jesus and sins forgiven. The Holy Spirit testifies through us. We share the good news of Jesus and all he done for us and for all. Amen.