St. John's & Zion Lutheran Churches

Jesus Gives Us A Comforting Promise

Sermon on John 14:15-21

Text: “If you love me, keep my commands. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever — 17 the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. 18 I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. 19 Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. 20 On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. 21 Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.”

When we were younger and facing uncertain situations, it was always comforting to have our parents’ reassuring promises. If we skinned our knee or elbow, they would say, “It’ll be OK,’ and it usually was. Our parents would leave for a while, but they promised they would be back soon. Those promises, and others like them, were reassuring. We did not question them, either. We took them on faith, because we trusted our parents as ones who would not lie to us. So also Jesus makes promises to us as we face an uncertain future. JESUS GIVES US A COMFORTING PROMISE. 1. He Promises To Care For Us. 2. He Promises To Be With Us.

Jesus spoke the words of our text on Maundy Thursday evening. In just a few hours the disciples would see Jesus arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane. Peter would be tested and fail. They would see Jesus unjustly sentenced and later put to death. Jesus knew that some rough waters lay ahead of the disciples. He wanted to prepare them for what was about to happen and to strengthen them in their faith.

Jesus promised to take care of his disciples. We read in verses 16&17, “I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever — the Spirit of truth.” Jesus promised to send the Holy Spirit to them. Yet didn’t the disciples already have the Holy Spirit dwelling in them? We know that they did for, as Paul would later write to the Corinthians, “No one can say, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ except by the Holy Spirit.” (1 Corinthians 12:3) These disciples had been brought to know Jesus as their Savior through the working of the Holy Spirit. Jesus was speaking to believers. Yet, he promises to send the Holy Spirit to them.

Here, Jesus is speaking about the day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit would come upon them in force. We remember the story of the sound of the mighty, rushing wind. We remember the tongues of fire that appeared in the heads of the disciples and how they began to speak in foreign languages, which they had never learned before. As a result of their preaching, 3,000 people were brought to faith that day. Yes, the disciples did have the Holy Spirit. However, Jesus promised that he would send the Holy Spirit in a very special way, which he did on the day of Pentecost.

Jesus does not promise to you and me a special outpouring of the Holy Spirit, where we will be given the ability to speak in foreign languages. Some church groups teach that you are not truly a believer, unless you have the ability to speak in tongues. However, Jesus does promise to send us the Holy Spirit. Although we are already believers, Jesus promises to send the Holy Spirit into our hearts. This is similar to what we are praying for when we say, “Thy kingdom come.” Although Christ already reigns in our hearts, we pray that he would continue to rule in our hearts. This is also true in the case of the Holy Spirit. Although he does dwell within us, we pray that he would continue to come and strengthen the faith that he created. Jesus promises to take care of us in our spiritual lives.

Jesus gave his disciples, both of then and now, the chance to evaluate our love for him. He says in verse 15, “If you love me, keep my commands.” It is a very simple statement, but one that causes us to stop and think. We say that we love Jesus. After all, look at what he did for us. He took all our sins upon himself and suffered and died for every one of them. He tells us, “Your sins are forgiven. You are holy in God’s sight. Heaven waits for you.” It is easy to say that we love Jesus, because of all the things he has done for us.

Yet, the adage “Actions speak louder than words” is very true. How often don’t we come away from a church service, saying that we will not do this or that again, but we find ourselves doing that sin all over again? We do that so often. We fail to do what God wants us to do. Granted, we will never be able to keep God’s commands perfectly this side of heaven. However, that gives us no excuse for throwing our hands in the air and saying, “I can’t help it.” “I can’t help getting angry.” “I can’t help having those thoughts about the opposite sex.” Let us pray to God for the strength to say “No” to the devil’s temptations. Let us show our love for God by keeping God’s commands.

Jesus told his disciples, regarding the Holy Spirit, “The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.” (Verse 17) With these words, Jesus promised that he would care for us. He also promised that he would continue to be with us.

Jesus said in verse 19, “Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me.” Jesus knew what would happen in the next few hours. He knew that he would suffer and die and be buried. Jesus also knew that forty days later he would ascend into heaven. The world would no longer be able to physically see Jesus. This would also be true for the disciples. Their leader and friend would no longer be physically with them. Jesus said, “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.” (Verse 18) He knew that they would be feeling a sense of loss. Jesus wanted to remind them that he would continue to be with them.

He said, ‘Even though the world will not see me, “you will see me.’” They would still be able to see Jesus through the eyes of faith. Jesus promised not to abandon them when he returned to heaven. He would continue to be with them. As Jesus would later promise, “Surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20) Jesus has continued to be with his church, blessing and guiding it. The fact that you and I have come to faith reminds us of the fact that he has not abandoned us. No, we have not physically seen Jesus, but we have seen Jesus with the eyes of faith. Even though he is in heaven, we behold him as our friend. Jesus has not abandoned us but continues to be with us.

He also said, “On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.” (Verse 20) On a particular day, Judgment Day, we will fully realize the mystery of the Godhead: How Jesus and the Father are separate and yet one. We will also realize the close relationship we have with Christ. He says, “You are in me, and I am in you.” This is a very personal relationship. Christ is now dwelling in us. He rules in our hearts as his kingdom. We are also in Christ. We are members of his body, the Church. This is true right now. Yet, we do not, currently, fully realize it. We have the things that cause problems for us. When we reach heaven, we will fully realize the close relationship that we have with Christ. We are in him now. He has not left us. He promises to be with us.

Jesus also makes another promise in verse 19, “Because I live, you also will live.” As we stated earlier, it was just a few hours before Jesus would be put to death on the cross. Yet, even in the face of death, Jesus says, “I live.” Death had no permanent effect on him. He showed that when, three days later, he rose from the dead. Death was not able to hold Jesus. He defeated death, just as he defeated Satan.

Now he makes a promise, “Because I live, you also will live.” In other words, just as death had no permanent effect on Jesus, so also it would have no permanent effect on his disciples. All people are born spiritually dead. All are deserving of eternal death. However, those who believe in Jesus will live. We live spiritually because the Holy Spirit has created faith in our hearts. We will live eternally because Jesus rose from the dead. Jesus’ resurrection gave life to us. The end of our physical lives is, in reality, not an end. Death, for the Christian, is a sleep from which we will awaken on the Last Day. Then we will be taken home to heaven. Then he, who continued to be with us, will continue to be with us for all eternity. Jesus promises to be with us and he has done so and will continue to do so.

We put a lot of stock in promises. We trust warrantees that come with the products that we buy. We trust the words of our friends when they promise not to tell anyone. Children trust that their parents will do what they have promised. However, what happens when the product breaks down, and we go for help, but none is to be found or that part is not covered by the warranty? What happens when the secret we told our friend ends up being spread all over town? What happens when the parents’ promises are broken? It doesn’t take too many times, before we do not trust their words. We may be hesitant to accept what they say is true and adopt a “Wait and see” attitude. How wonderful it is that we do not have to worry about this happening with God’s promises. God has said to us, “God is not human, that he should lie, not a human being, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill?” (Numbers 23:19) In other words, God tells us that we can count on his promises. May his promises to take care of us and to always be with us buoy us up throughout this life, until we reach the fulfillment of his promise of eternal life. Amen.