Todd A. Peperkorn, STM
Messiah Lutheran Church
Exaudi – Easter 6 (May 16, 2010)
[This sermon was edited and modified from a 2005 sermon. And yes, I know the audio makes it sound like I have a lisp. I’m working on it…]
TITLE: “He Will Testify of Me”
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen. Our text for this morning is from the Gospel lesson just read, the words of Jesus, But when the Helper comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify of Me.
The New King James translation of the Bible lists this little Greek word paraklete as “Helper.” Other translations will have the word comforter, or even the word counselor, like the right hand man of the king who speaks advice to him on how to run the kingdom. But what does it really mean, to say that Jesus will send the Holy Spirit to us from the Father? What does it mean to say that He is the Spirit of truth? And what does it mean to say that the Holy Spirit will testify or give witness to Jesus? Those are the questions we will try to answer this morning.
Jesus really gives us this message this morning as a warning and as a source of hope. The warning is very simple. If you are a Christian, the world will hate you. Because you confess the faith once delivered to the saints, you will suffer. Now I am not speaking here of the suffering that you will face because of sin. We all suffer because of sin, either sin that we do, our sinful nature, or as a result of sin that is done against us. That kind of suffering is, to a greater or lesser extent, the suffering that we all deserve in one way or another, because we are sinners. Sinners do sinful things. This is not something for us to be proud of, or something for us to expect or want to happen to us. But there are consequences for sinful actions.
No, what Jesus is talking about here is the suffering that comes directly as a result of being a Christian. As a Christian, you view the world in a different way. As a Christian, your life is shaped by the cross of Jesus, and despite our sins and imperfections, that baptismal life shines within you just as surely as Jesus rose from the dead.
So what does it mean to say that you suffer as a Christian? It means that because you believe Jesus forgives your sins, it means that your life is not lived here and now ultimately, but that you always have one foot in heaven. This is a great and wonderful gift that God gives to you and I. No matter what happens in this world. No matter how messed up your life may become, no matter how dreary and lifeless it may feel at times, not matter what happens, it doesn’t matter. Why? Because Jesus has ascended into heaven with the Father, and that you are going there with Him.
But why does that cause suffering? It causes suffering because the world cannot understand what makes you tick. They can’t. You have a whole set of priorities and a worldview that is simply impossible for them to comprehend. That lack of understanding creates prejudice, hostility, and yes, even hatred. Jesus tells us that the world will hate you. Hate is a pretty strong word, dear friends. But that’s Jesus’ word, so it must be true. The world will hate you for who you are. The world will hate you precisely because you are baptized.
The world, dear Christians, doesn’t see the big picture. They can’t. It’s out of their vision. All they see is you wasting your money on offerings, blowing a perfectly good Sunday morning to sit inside and hear the Word of God, spending time teaching your children and even your neighbors the Christian faith. That’s all they can see. And they hate you for it. It’s a waste. It doesn’t make sense. And if we are honest with ourselves, you have to admit that there are times when it doesn’t make sense to us either. There are times when we are tempted to refuse our offering to God. There are times when going to church seems more of a drag than a delight. There are times when we forget the big picture and look at the details so much that we almost begin to believe the lies of the world.
But this, dear friends in Christ, is where the Holy Spirit comes in with help, with holy advice, and with comfort that goes beyond the day and into eternity. The Holy Spirit, after all, is the spirit of truth, the spirit of the Father, the Spirit sent by the Son. The Holy Spirit comes to you this day with words of hope and comfort. The Holy Spirit comes to you this day in Water, Word and Meal to give you a hope for the future. How is this so? The Holy Spirit gives you Jesus. It’s that simple. He gives you the one thing needful.
How can this be? How can it be that in the midst of all of your sufferings and sorrows, trials and heartaches, problems and pains that the one thing that you really need is Jesus Christ? Jesus Christ is not simply a name but a person. Your problems are not solved by answers in a textbook or self-help sort of way. No. You need a savior. You need a rescuer. You need a redeemer. You need Jesus.
And here, dear baptized, you get Him. I have come that they may have life, and have it abundantly, Jesus says shortly before our text. The hope and the life that Jesus gives you grants perspective. It means that because you are in Christ and Christ is in you, that you have an eternity awaiting you. The trials and sufferings of this day, as real as they are, and as hurtful as they may be at times, these will pass. In fact, Saint Paul says, For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us (Romans 8:18).
Rejoice this day, dear baptized! Christ has worked all things for your good. He has ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of the Father for you. He has sent you His Holy Spirit for comfort and life. Believe it for Jesus’ sake. Amen.
The peace of God, which passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in true faith, unto life everlasting. Amen.