Sermon on John 14:23-29
Text: Jesus replied, “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. He who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.
“All this I have spoken while still with you. But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
“You heard me say, ‘I am going away and I am coming back to you.’ If you loved me, you would be glad that I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. I have told you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe.”
“God’s Word is our great heritage and shall be ours forever.” Thus, begins one of our favorite hymns in our hymnal. It speaks of the wonderful heritage that we have received from our forefathers, namely, God’s Word. It also expresses the certainty that God’s Word will also be ours in the future. However, we do have to realize something. This gift, this inheritance, can be lost if we do not treasure it or keep it uppermost in our hearts and minds. Today, as we listen to this precious gift of God, his Holy Word, we are encouraged to CONTINUE IN THE WORD OF JESUS. When we do, we will be greatly blessed. 1. The Father And The Son Will Make Their Home In You. 2. The Holy Spirit Will Teach You All Things. 3. The Peace Of God Will Be Yours Forever.
Jesus spoke the words of our text on Maundy Thursday evening in the Upper Room. In a few short hours, his disciples would go through some traumatic times as they watched Jesus arrested, put on trial, mistreated and, ultimately, put to death on a cross. The chapters that record the events from the Upper Room are full of comfort and encouragement for his disciples.
Jesus begins by saying, “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.” Here Jesus makes reference to those who love him and those who do not. This love of Jesus is not something that is natural. By nature, we have no love for God and, therefore, do not want to obey him. We all fit into that category by nature. Each one of us deserves the punishment for all who do not keep his commands. That punishment is an eternity in hell. We deserve this anytime we go against what God wants.
However, in the greatest act of love that the world has ever known, that Father sent his Son, Jesus Christ into the world to be our Savior. Jesus was the perfect sacrifice for our sins. Jesus was perfect in all his life, in his thoughts, words and actions. Jesus lived for us and then he died for us. As Jesus suffered on the cross, he paid the debt of hell that we owed God. Jesus paid for all of our sins. His blood cleansed us from all our sins. Now, as God looks at us, he sees us as holy and perfect. When we are brought to faith, Jesus begins his reign in our hearts as the King of our lives.
However, the only place where we can find out about what Jesus has done for us, how he saved us from our sins, the only place where we can turn for assurance when our sins plague us is in his Holy Word. We want to continue in God’s Word for the constant assurance that our sins have been forgiven and that Jesus rules in our hearts.
Soon, Jesus would physically be taken from his disciples, not just by the Jewish leaders, but also, in a little more than forty days, Jesus would return to heaven. Again, so that the disciples would not feel as though Jesus had abandoned them, he promised to send another to comfort and guide them. Jesus said in verses 25&26, “All this I have spoken while still with you. But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” Jesus very clearly fulfilled this promise ten days after he ascended into heaven. On Pentecost the Holy Spirit came mightily upon the disciples in the sound of the mighty wind and the tongues of fire on their heads, as they spoke in various languages the message that Jesus Christ is the world’s Savior.
Yet, that was not the last time that Jesus sent his Holy Spirit. We read in 1 Corinthians 12:3, “No one can say, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ except by the Holy Spirit.” The fact that we are believers means that the Holy Spirit has created faith in our hearts. For many, it happened when they were infants at their baptism. For others, it may have happened later in their lives. The Holy Spirit has created a faith that trusts that Jesus is our Savior.
Jesus said of the Holy Spirit, “[He] will teach you all things and remind you of everything I have said to you.” This happened when the Holy Spirit inspired men such as Moses and the prophets to write the Old Testament, as well as men such as Matthew, Mark, Luke, John and Paul to write the books of the New Testament. How do we know what Jesus did? How do we know what Jesus wants? We find it clearly written for us in his Word.
Since this is the only place where we can learn about Jesus, we want to, indeed, we need to be involved in God’s Word. So often people think that they know all they need to know about God’s Word. Some look at confirmation as a sort of graduation. But we can never know too much about God’s Word. The Holy Spirit works through that Word to strengthen our faith. As we continue in the Word of Jesus, the Holy Spirit will teach us all things.
As a further comfort for his disciples, Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” Jesus speaks of the peace that he offers which is completely different from the peace that the world gives. The world dreams of peace. The world dreams of a time when people can live together in peace and harmony. Yet, peace in the world is not going to happen, because there is sin in the world. Peace in our world is, at best, very tenuous, uneasy and all too often broken.
The peace that Jesus offers does not depend on harmony between nations or the tranquility of family. It is not as fragile as the next temper flare-up or grab for power. It is not disturbed by plans gone awry.
The peace that Jesus offers is a peace that allows our hearts to not be troubled or afraid. The peace that Jesus offers is the peace between God and mankind. This is the peace that the angels sang about the night that Jesus was born: “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.” This peace comes about because Jesus paid for our sins. All of those sins that plague us, that torment our consciences have been forgiven. So many people in the world are searching for this peace, this security. They think that, if they live a good enough life, or give enough, or completely ignore it, this uneasiness, this torment will go away. However, it never will. If we want peace, true lasting peace, there is only one place where it can be found – Jesus Christ. He alone forgives all sins. He alone has paid our debt. He alone can offer the peace that our consciences cry out for. “My peace I give you.” It is Jesus’ peace. He earned it and wants to give it to us. The way that this peace is given is when we hear his Word. It is given to us in Holy Communion as we hear the beautiful words “for you.” As we continue in the Word of Jesus, the peace of God will be ours forever.
So many people are looking for this type of peace. They search everywhere, but they cannot find it. God gives you this peace. What a wonderful thing you can share with others. The Holy Spirit can use you to bring peace to a troubled mind and heart. Yet, you cannot share this message, if you, yourself, are not filled. You cannot pour water out of an empty pitcher. We pray that God would continue to fill us up, so that we might be a source of blessing to others.
What is the most precious thing that you have been given? Is it an heirloom from a parent or grandparent, something that has been in the family for generations? Perhaps, it is a special gift given to you by your spouse. As wonderful and meaningful as those gifts are, that are, in reality, just things. If you were to lose them, it would hurt us emotionally. We might even cry that they are gone. However, in the grand scheme of things, you could still go on. God has given us a most precious gift, namely, his Word. If we were ever to lose hold of this, if we become careless and let it slip away, it would have dire consequences. God help us to continue in his Word. For through it, the Father and the Son make their home in us, the Holy Spirit teaches us all things and the peace of God is ours forever. With great joy, and asking that God might bless us, we do sing, “God’s Word is our great heritage and shall be ours forever.” Amen.
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