S-1186 5SOE/3C 5/02/10 Hymns (O) #23; S #224; (C) #54
Texts: Acts 11:1-18; Revelation 21:1-7; John 16:12-22
Theme: “The Guiding Agent” (John 16:12-14)
Question: “Have you ever needed a guide?”
SOLI DEO GLORIA, Armour, SD
Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen Indeed! Alleluia! The text for The Fifth Sunday of Easter is from the Gospel lesson: “[Jesus said] I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all the truth, for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak, and He will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take what is Mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is Mine; therefore I said that He will take what is mine and declare it to you” (John 16:12-15).
Introduction: In Nomine IESU
People of God, chosen and beloved on August 31, 1972 8:30 in the evening as a young 16 year old Palestinian, I was boarding a plane (KLM airline) to the United States of America—a big thing for a Palestinian kid from Nazareth. After what appeared to be an eternity, I landed at JFK airport in NY. Immediately it was evident that something was wrong—a major airline strike. I needed to get hold of my brother (Moussa) to inform him. I didn’t speak English. I was terrified and frightened because my brother told me to protect my money. I had $500.00 in my socks. I couldn’t speak English and English sounded gibberish to me. I was terrified and frightened. But somehow the lady behind the counter communicated with me what language do I speak? I said, “Arabic.” She made a phone call and this huge man (appeared to me a giant). He walked up to me and guess what? He spoke my language. He was an agent of KLM and explained the situation to me that there is a strike. And we don’t know when the next plain will take off. I told him, “I need to get hold of my brother in SD.” He asked for “the number.” I gave him the piece of paper. Where do you think my brother was? Not in SD, but in MN waiting to pick me up at the airport. That was before cell phones even existed. There I am in NY, terrified and frightened and the whole ordeal lasted for 11 straight hours. But what benefit that guide was to me, to explain what was going on.
In this portion of God’s Holy Word, there is a very tender scene. Jesus is in the upper room. In a few days, He will be taken to Golgotha. Will be beaten, bruised, and hung on a cross. But before this occurs he says: “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.” But I will give you the Paraklete, (Greek) the Holy Spirit, He will, notice this: He will guide you in the whole truth. The Holy Spirit is our guiding Agent, to communicate all that Jesus has done and continues to do even now.
This is the work of the Holy Spirit. It is not independent of the Father or the Son, but in conjunction with the Father and the Son, will bring honor and glory to the Savior Jesus Christ. What intimate moments we see between Jesus and His disciples? He doesn’t leave them alone. But He gives them a Guide to guide them to the truth. In order that He might assure them that He is with them. And He will get them to their final destination.
I asked you earlier, (a question I ask at the beginning of the worship service) “Have you ever needed a guide?” I use guides every year as I travel to Israel. Yes, it is my country. Yes, I know it well. But I am not educated as a professional guide who will take us from one place to another; reveal the historical events and share with us what took place.
So it is in God’s Holy Word. We have the Holy Spirit as the Guiding Agent who tells us of our sins, and the need to confess our sins. But He also informs us of the grace and love of God made manifest through His Son, Jesus on the cross of Calvary. The Holy Spirit as our guiding Agent, always points us to the Savior so that He might bring glory and honor to His holy name. This is the work of the Holy Spirit not to take away from Christ, but to point others to Christ.
How important it is for us as God’s beloved children to introduce the world to the saving work of Jesus? Why is it that we have problems doing so? Why is it that we don’t work as agents in God’s Kingdom? Why is it that we have troubles communicating with others the love of Jesus? Simply, because we are sinful by nature, we don’t have the mind of God, or the desires of God.
On the other hand, God in love revealed Himself through the Son. The Son revealed to us His love by dying our death on the cross of Calvary. And the Holy Spirit reveals to us His crucifixion, His cross, His death, and His empty tomb. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, we come to understand our role as His beloved children. What is our role? To communicate the truth—the truth that leads to eternal life.
The truth we are speaking about is not my truth or your truth; what you believe or what I believe. No, there is one TRUTH. That truth is God’s Holy Word that leads to eternal life. It saddens me when so many preachers, who claim to be Christian ministers of the Gospel, deny the inerrancy of the Scripture. Who claim there is another way to get to heaven beside Jesus. Or like the Pope who claims there is another way for the Jews or Muslims to get to heaven. That is BLASEPHMY. That is not the truth. The TRUTH is what is written in God’s Holy Word. For Jesus Himself said, “I Am the Way, I Am the TRUTH, and I Am the Life and NO ONE comes to the Father except through ME!” (John 14:6). PAUSE.
Sometimes we struggle with that because we want to be politically correct and feel good toward others. We want to support them in their ways of life, unless it contradicts the Word of the Living God. Notice, how the Holy Spirit works—to guide us in all truth! Not just parts, but in ALL TRUTH—truth that leads to eternal life.
But as I said a moment ago, we struggle because of our sinful nature. More often than not we don’t want to admit our sinfulness. We don’t want to admit that we need a Savior. We don’t want to admit that we ought to confess and repent of our sins. But when we study the Scriptures, when we get to know the Scriptures it becomes clear, precisely clear how dependent we are on the mercy of God who reveals Himself to us through His Son, by the Spirit’s power through the Word, Baptism and the Lord’s Supper.
A story is told of a young woman who purchased a book and read a few pages laid it aside as not interesting. But sometime later she became acquainted with the author. Tender friendship sprang up, which turned into love and marriage. Then the book was no longer dull. Every sentence had a charm for her heart. Love was the interpreter.
Why is the Bible uninteresting and even distasteful to the natural human heart? Because it doesn’t not knows the Author, Jesus Christ. But when by the Spirit of God the heart learns to know and love Him who gave the Bible and who reveals Himself in the Scriptures, then the pages of this Book become most interesting, and every sentence is interpreted by the Spirit of love. Then with great delight we pick that book and read every sentence with great joy as we learn of God’s love and compassion towards us. We come to know that by the Spirit’s power this book is the absolute truth that leads to eternal life.
My brothers and sisters in Christ, I shared with you the struggles I had when I came to this country. Not knowing the language and being afraid in New York. Afraid someone is going to hit me on the head and take my $500.00 out of my socks, and terrified for not being able to get hold of my brother.
I did share with you that the KLM airline provided me with a guide, an agent who could speak my language and explain what was going on. But what I didn’t share with you is that when the guide came to speak with me I wanted to laugh. You know why? Because he spoke classical Arabic! Classical Arabic is not spoken daily, but in ONLY found in books. It is as if you and I would speak Elizabethan English. “How art thou? It behooves thee to delve into the affairs of the king. My cup runneth over”. etc.
Another fact you must know about this agent is this: He was hired by the airline and got paid for the work he did. Unlike the guiding agent of the KLM, the Holy Spirit doesn’t work for pay, He doesn’t speak a foreign language, He speaks the language of God’s people. He doesn’t get paid. You know why? Because the payment has been paid in full by the Son on the cross of Calvary! That is the guiding truth that the Holy Spirit reveals to us today and every day. I pray that you will know the power of the Holy Spirit that dwells in your hearts that you received through the gift of Baptism, continues to live in you through the Word and strengthen you by the Sacrament of the Altar.
What a blessing to have an agent to guide you. No greater agent can be found than the Agent of the Holy Spirit, our guiding Agent to the truth that reveals that we are in a need of Savior and the Savior has come to take away our sins and give us eternal life. PAUSE.
(this paragraph will be spoken very slowly and gently) Do you know how blessed you are? Do you? You really are blessed. God loves you with that unconditional love which He reveals to you through the aid of the Holy Spirit so that you may know Him intimately, follow Him and live with Him throughout endless years of joy and peace in paradise. Thank God with me that the Father and the Son have sent us the Holy Spirit to be our guiding Agent. Amen.
Now the peace of God...