S-1254 6th SOE/3A 05/29/11, (O) #286; (S) #349 vv 1-3; LS. #310; 349 vv 4-7; #387; (C) #15
Text: Acts 17:16-31; 1 Peter 3:13-22; John 14:15-21
Theme: “Someone to Walk With You” (John 14:15-18)
Question: “Who Do You Like to Walk With?”
SOLI DEO GLORIA, Armour, SD
Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia! The text for our 6th Sunday of Easter is from the Gospel lesson: [Jesus said:] “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments. And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him. You know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you.” (John 14:15-17).
In Nomini Iesu,
Saints in Christ, last Sunday a tragedy hit the community of Joplin, MO. It is hard to watch the images across the screen of the sea of splintered wood, fields of debris and destruction, mountains of carnage and chaos, and hearts and homes broken and bruised. Joplin, MO experienced the deadliest single tornado to touchdown since the National Weather Service began keeping official records in 1950. The savage tornado caused death and devastations. When it was all said and done there was a 6 mile stretch of wreckage. The death toll stands at 142, 900 injured and over 8000 structures damaged and some 105 unaccounted for. It is indeed a tragedy that pull at the strings of your heart.
But in the midst of this tragedy, we also hear stories of triumph and courage. Larry (sorry, I didn’t get his last name) had just gotten up from the basement were he was huddled for dear life as the storm tore his house piece by piece. As he stood where his living room once was, he heard a muffled voice, crying for help. He headed towards the voice which came from his next door neighbor. He found his elderly lady in her bathtub with debris all over her. He helped her up, knelt down and placed his tennis shoes on her feet and took her to the hospital. This Good Samaritan walked with this lady barefoot while she walked in his shoes for safety and protection.
There are stories after stories of godly men and women who are helping in the efforts of search and rescue. We thank God for such people who think of their neighbors and fulfill the Words of our Resurrected and Victorious, Lord saying: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 19:19). Many folks have been demonstrating this love towards neighbors and are volunteering to ease the suffering, sorrow and sadness in any way possible.
It is good to see people helping others and lifting their spirits up. But there is no greater help given to man than what the Savior in the text has shared with us. “I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him. You know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you.” This helper is the Holy Spirit who walks along with us and is in us and remains with us.
God the Holy Spirit doesn’t just come when tragedy strikes, but is constantly present with us and in us. We received the Holy Spirit through the gift of Baptism. From that day forth, we have someone walking with us, guiding us and directing us. God the Holy Spirit is with us even today. God the Holy Spirit is at work within us bringing us to a closer walk with Jesus just as He did for Alicia Huebner who confessed her faith (Confirmed in the faith) and trusted her Lord for all He has done for her through His death and glorious resurrection. PAUSE.
Study the Scriptures and you will see the wonders and majesty of our gracious God. In Psalm 66 we read these words: “Come and hear, all you who fear God, and I will tell what he has done for my soul” (vs.16). Who could have imagined that the gift of God is the sending of another advocate/helper/friend to be with us—in fact to be in us—forever.
When the Savior was on earth, He walked with the disciples for 3 full years. During that time He never left them alone. He ate with them, traveled with them from city to city, and taught them about the Kingdom of heaven. They saw Him perform miracles of healing, of raising the dead, of restoring sight and hearing. It was such a great comfort to have their Rabbi with them. But now He is about to go to Jerusalem. Death looms high on the horizon. And after death there will be the return to the Father in heaven from which He came. Thus He didn’t want them to be alone. He gave them one of those golden nuggets—a promise of a helper—someone that walks along with them on their journey of spreading the Good News to the furthest past of the earth.
But that promise was not ONLY for them, but it is FOR US ALSO. We, too, have received this same promise—to have someone walk with us in good times and bad, in troubles and in triumph, in life and in death. The Holy Spirit walks with us even today. Right here in this place the Holy Spirit is present leading and moving us to hear the teachings of Jesus, believe in Him and trust Him for our salvation.
His teaching is for our benefit. The opening verse of the Gospel reading for today states: “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments”. (John 14:15) What does it is mean to love God? It means to do what He says. The old saying “Talk is cheap” means that it’s easier to say something than do it! It’s easy to say you love someone. It’s really easy to say you love God. But again, talk is cheap. You know it, the people around you know it, and according to the Gospel reading today, Jesus knows it too. He doesn’t say, “If you love Me, then say so,” but He states emphatically: “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.”
However as sinners we have a problem with that, because we can’t love God with our whole heart. It is impossible for the Old Adam to love God and neighbor and do what He says by keeping His commandments. We fall and will continue to fall.
How many young people do you know who have stood right here before you (perhaps even your own children) who promised just like Alicia when asked: “Do you intend to continue steadfast in the confession of this Church, and suffer all, even death, rather than fall from it?” But they are nowhere to be found. Soon after confirmation they walked out and never came back. That is tragic indeed.
These young people are not alone. How many of us adults, myself included, have promised God that we would love Him, honor Him, serve Him, and suffer for Him. But we have forgotten our promises. We have not daily and always walked with our Lord, but instead broken His heart by our words and actions. YES, WE ARE SINNERS who have walked away from God, His promises and His gifts of Word and Sacraments. PAUSE.
In my opening remarks, I stated that Joplin, MO has experienced the savage tornado that changed the lives of many. If that is not enough, there are people out there who are now looting. These people are not walking with their neighbors, but hurting them more. How sad!
Today, beloved in Christ, hear again the promise of Jesus: “I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him. You know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you.” Indeed, Christ has done this for us. His words are not cheap. His love is not conditional on our love or actions. No and a 1000 times no. His love is real, true and everlasting.
Jesus didn’t just say, “I love you,” but went to the cross to affirm His love for us. His love is etched on the pages of human history forever. His love displayed on Calvary’s cross. His love moves Him to die for you. His love is as real as the sun that comes out every day. Though you may not see it or feel its warms because of clouds, but none-the-less it is there. So is Christ’s love for you. His love compelled Him to give you this blessed promise—that He will give you a Helper to walk with you along life’s journey.
And this Helper is not like Larry from Joplin who gave his elderly neighbor his tennis shoes to walk to get medical aid. No the Helper gives us the gifts of faith, forgiveness and guaranteed future. This Helper comes to us today in His Word. This Helper comes to us in His body and blood. This Helper is here to stay and take us on the final journey to heaven. Amen.
Now the peace of God…
SOLI DEO GLORIA