Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord, Jesus Christ. Our text for this morning is the Gospel just read from St. John chapters fifteen and sixteen. We will be looking at the words of Jesus, â€œâ€œBut when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me.â€ (John 15:26)
T.S. Eliot once wrote, â€œThe remarkable thing about television is that it permits several million people to laugh at the same joke and still feel lonely.â€ One of the great struggles of our day is loneliness. We are surrounded by people all the time, we have more ways to communicate than our parents could even imagine, and yet we manage to be more isolated, more an island than ever before. There is something about the human condition that brings this out in us. We have entire diseases today dedicated to that sense of isolation. Depression means being stuck in the past and unable to get out. Anxiety means being stuck in the future and unable to move forward. But in either case, whether you live only in the past or only in the future, you are alone.
What is it that makes us so prone to this loneliness? At the heart of it, without a doubt, is our sin. Sin separates us, it divides and keeps us apart. It keeps us apart from each other, but more importantly, it separates us and keeps us apart from God Himself. Think of Adam and Eve hiding from God in the Garden. Or remember the words of the Psalmist, â€œTurn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflictedâ€ (Psalm 25:26).
How is it that sin does this terrible thing? It does this terrible thing because we are ashamed. We are ashamed of our thoughts and words and deeds. We are ashamed, and because of that, we want to hide. We hide from each other, and we hide from God. Well, we think we hide from God. We live in the delusion that God doesnâ€™t know us and that God is blithely ignorant of our every thought, word and deed. Think of how hard we try to hide our sins and weakensses from each other. Do you really think your spouse doesnâ€™t know whatâ€™s going on? Do you truly believe that your parents donâ€™t know whatâ€™s happening? That self-delusion is what drives us to loneliness.
But that is not all that drives us to loneliness. Sometimes it appears that we are in fact alone. We all have these fears. A widow lives and waits for the visitor who never comes. A high schooler just wants someone to know of the pain of their life, which no one can guess. A mother spends her life running her children and yet longs for real conversation. A father cannot communicate with his children because he feels he doesnâ€™t know them anymore. Those are just a few, and Iâ€™m sure each of you could add more. How estranged our we from distant relatives and friends? Can we even speak with one another without fear?
It is to that loneliness that our Lord speaks to you today. Today our Lord gives us a great promise. He said a little before our text, â€œI will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.” (John 14:18â€“19) Godâ€™s promised gravious with you and for you does not stop. It never ends.
Oh I know, we canâ€™t always feel it. Imagine the children of Israel in our Old Testament reading from Ezekiel (36:22â€“28). They were off in exile. Their land was taken, the kingdom destroy, the Temple torn apart brick by brick. They were strangers in a strange land. Would God ever return? Would He ever come and save His people? Yes, yes, a thousand times yes. Hear again those great words of promise:
â€œI will take you from the nations and gather you from all the countries and bring you into your own land. I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules. You shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers, and you shall be my people, and I will be your God.â€ (Ezekiel 36:24â€“28)
This was Godâ€™s promise to them, and it is still His promise to you. I will take, I will sprinkle, I will cleanse, I will give, I will put, I will remove, I will cause you to walk, I will be your God. Those are a lot of promises from God. And that is just the beginning of His promises to you.
Jesus in our text today says that He will send the Helper from the Father. This Helper, this Spirit of Truth, He is the one who will give you reality. He is the one who bears witness to Jesus. The Spirit is the one who points you to Christ and says, there He is! His water and Word. His Meal. His Forgiveness. His Life given for you. There He is! That is the Holy Spirits work. The Holy Spirit is the divine delivery system, to connect you to Jesus, and to keep you connected all the days of your life. You remember Paulâ€™s words, donâ€™t you?
â€œFor I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.â€(Romans 8:38â€“39)
This is why St. Peter exhorts us to love one another earnestly (1 Peter 4:8). Love covers a multitude of sins. By covering one anotherâ€™s sins, we are the Body of Christ. Rather than tear each other up, build each other up. Rather than try to solve our problems and troubles alone, know that Christ is with you all the way.
How can this be? Can it really be true, that you are never, ever alone? Yes. Yes it is true. You will never be separated from the love of God, because Christ dwells in you even now. God has sprinkled His cleansing Spirit upon you. That is Jesusâ€™ promise to you. Itâ€™s a pretty good one, isnâ€™t it? That is His promise. Cling to it, for in this you have eternal life, no matter what may come.
Believe it for Jesusâ€™ sake. Amen.
And now the peace of God, which passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in true faith to life everlasting. Amen.