Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
John 15:26-16:4 26 “But 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. 27 And you also will bear witness, because you have been with me from the beginning. ESV John 16:1 “I have said all these things to you to keep you from falling away. 2 They will put you out of the synagogues. Indeed, the hour is coming when whoever kills you will think he is offering service to God. 3 And they will do these things because they have not known the Father, nor me. 4 But I have said these things to you, that when their hour comes you may remember that I told them to you. “I did not say these things to you from the beginning, because I was with you.
This Gospel points us to the future. Everything Jesus tells us here is what is going to happen. Yes, what a wonderful love God has for his people that he tells us in advance what He is going to do. He prepares us for the future; for suffering, trials, afflictions and even death. We don’t have a god who is aloof and far away. Who does not care about us, but a God who invites us into his inner circle and lets us in on his plans. As when the Lord visited Abraham and said, “Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do, seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him?” (Genesis 18:17-18). And as the Lord said to the prophet Samuel, “Behold, I am about to do a thing in Israel at which the two ears of everyone who hears it will tingle” (I Samuel 3:11).
But, faith is required. His word speaks to us and tells us what he is about to do, and that very word is what produces in us faith. However, many are those who do not hear His word. They close their ears. They do not want to heed what he says or believe His promises. In our hard-hearted stubbornness of the natural man we reject what God says and do not believe. Those without faith will find no comfort. There is no comfort, no promise, no hope for the person without faith in Jesus Christ.
Yet, by his mercy and love for us he gives us his word of promise through which the Sprit, the Helper gives us faith. For those who hear and believe, there is great comfort here. Comfort that God has not forgotten us nor abandoned us, but takes us into his confidence and includes us in his plans. We have a position of privilege and status before the King of Kings and Ruler of the universe. We can thus be assured that in our afflictions and sufferings and pains and sorrows, God is with us and for us. He is fighting for us, saving us, directing all that happens for our good and benefit. Though we do not yet see it with our eyes, by faith are we comforted.
Then one might ask, “If this is so, what does He have planned for us?” The first works out of his mouth are, “When the helper comes…” He promises a Helper, who is the Spirit of truth, the Spirit of God, the Holy Spirit as we know him. Now, for the disciples at that time, this was very much a future event. He spoke these words before his crucifixion. And by these words is was preparing them for Pentecost when masses from all nations heard the gospel proclaimed for the first time and thousands were baptized into the faith, receiving forgiveness for their sins and the Holy Spirit was poured out upon them.
But this is still the promise he gives to us today. When the Helper comes. For He is still coming. He comes by means of baptism. Every person who believes these words and is baptized receives the Spirit of God and forgiveness of sins. This is an on-going pouring out of the Spirit of God upon men. The promise of the Helper is past, present and future.
But who is this Helper? Yes, we know him as the Holy Spirit. But as we look deeper into our gospel we see first of all that he comes out of God’s love for us. Jesus says he will send the Helper from the Father. He proceeds from the Father and the Son and we confess in the Creed. Jesus does not leave us alone when he ascends to the Father, but sends a Helper. We are not abandoned by Jesus or the Father. He does not leave us alone to survive in this world on our own. He sends you the Helper. God continues to provide for us and will continue to give us the help we need in our trials. That is God’s love which He pours out on us. As Jesus says upon his ascension to the Father, “I am with you until the end of the age.” We are not alone and not on our own. We have help.
For this reason God includes us in his plans and does nothing without telling us first, that we do not fall away. As he prepared his disciples for life between Pentecost until he returns at the end of the world, so he prepares us. He prepares us to keep us from falling away. For we are surrounded by the legions of the devil’s angels who tempt us to sin, to doubt God, lose faith and fall away from Christ. Many are the attacks against the believers and against the church. There is great opposition today to the church of Christ. Believers are under attack. The church is under attack. Christian institutions are under attack. The family is under attack. There is an undermining of our beliefs and morality and God’s authority. He prophecies to his disciples that there is coming a time when they will be put out of the synagogues, the churches. There will come a time when they will put you to death and think they are serving God. This time is now. It is happening today. We were reminded of that this past week by the bombings in Manchester, England. This was an attack on Christians, on Christian nations, on a culture built on Christian belief. But the elect of God are preserved by the work of the Holy Spirit. Many are those who fall away from belief in Christ, but the elect are preserved and saved by the work of the Holy Spirit in word and Sacrament.
And the Holy Spirit will proclaim the things of Jesus to us. He will bear witness about me, says Jesus. He bears witness to all people through the Word of the Gospel proclaimed in the pulpits and given to us in the Sacraments. This is the work of the Spirit. By means of the spoken word he proclaimed your sins forgiven. By means of baptism he created faith in your hearts. By means of Holy Communion he preserves that faith and makes it stronger in the face of afflictions and death.
And this is the love of God for the world. That he gave his only-begotten son so that all who believe in him should not perish but have everlasting life. And this love that lives in the hearts of all true believers impels us to go and make disciples in all nations by baptizing and teaching all things that he has taught us. This is the love which faith generates in the heart of faith. This is faith in Jesus Christ in action. For that reason you are still living here on earth. That Jesus Christ might be proclaimed to all people.
The Lord bless you and give you his comfort as you bring the message of Christ to all people. Amen.