Sunday, May 08, 2016

Sermon for 5/8/16: Seventh Sunday of Easter

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ALLELUIA! CHRIST IS RISEN! He is risen indeed! Alleluia!

Once again this morning, Jesus speaks about the Holy Spirit. This week, Jesus tells you what the Holy Spirit is all about and why He will come and what He will do. Jesus calls the Spirit the "Helper" or "Comforter." That's because the Spirit's job is to give you comfort against sin and death and the power of the devil. Pay close attention to what Jesus is saying here today, because it will keep you from despair when the world seeks to destroy you for being a Christian. These words of Jesus concerning the Spirit's work will preserve you from all false belief and wrong notions about God and the Spirit. These words of Jesus teach you that the Holy Spirit brings you true, eternal comfort by keeping you in Christ against what the devil, the world, and your sinful nature throw at you.

There are many people out there who want to talk about God or worship God or have something to do with God apart from Jesus. That is not the witness of the Holy Spirit. That's not the faithful witness of the Apostles. Every religion under the sun is concocted to try to figure that God out, to understand what He wants and what you have to do to please Him. With that kind of god, you can never be certain that you’ve done enough. But the Holy Spirit doesn't lead you to that god. The Spirit proceeds from the Father and, through the preaching of the Gospel, He bears witness of Jesus who has taken God's wrath upon Himself. The Spirit points you to and delivers Christ in whom you have forgiveness and life, in Whom the Father smiles upon you, in Whom the Father no longer counts your sins against you.

But such a Jesus doesn't flatter you. Such a Gospel and such a Spirit don't teach you that you have the power to save yourself. Such a Gospel teaches you to put all your hope and trust in Christ alone. Such preaching that the Holy Spirit does, such faithful preaching He delivers through faithful pastors, tells you to go looking for Jesus nowhere else than in Word and Water and Body and Blood. The Spirit teaches that you will find Jesus nowhere else. And if there is no Jesus, there is no forgiveness, or salvation or heavenly Father. That's why Jesus tells the disciples that they will suffer for His sake. People will throw them out and kill them and think they are doing God's work! When you've got God all figured out apart from Jesus, that's what you do: you take down those whose only hope and trust is in Jesus. It’s why Christians are killed every day all over the world: religions who deny that Christ is God can't stand the thought that they cannot save themselves. You only have to tour our little Synod to see that faithful pastors are being thrown out of their parishes because they will only teach Jesus and His means of grace. They preach faithfully that there is no looking for God apart from Jesus and the Spirit is not at work apart from His Word. So their congregations or the Synod find some reason to stop supporting them and their families and finally throw them out.

Against such persecution, against such trouble, against such suffering, the Helper comes to Comfort you. And the comfort comes not be taking away the suffering but by bearing witness to Jesus by turning you to what is true: in Baptism you have been washed clean and made fit for eternal life; in Absolution your sins been removed from you; in the Supper Christ died for you that you might live and be free from sin and death. The Spirit and your pastor bear witness of Jesus: they testify from the font, the pulpit, and the altar, that God smiles upon you in Christ and has forgiven all your sins. They tell you that, throughout the suffering of this life, the Lord will guard you and keep you and comfort you until one day you pass through death and away from this world and its evils to the eternal kingdom and paradise the Lord Himself has prepared for you.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, you have the witness of the Spirit, the testimony of the Apostles, the Word and the holy Gifts, all of which deliver Jesus to you. And having Jesus, you have far more than the world can ever give. Praise God for such a faithful and comforting Helper as the Holy Spirit, for He gives you only true comfort: the comfort of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, your Savior. ALLELUIA! CHRIST IS RISEN! He is risen indeed! Alleluia! In the name of the Father and of the Son (+) and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

The peace of God which passes all understanding will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus always. Amen.

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