SEVENTH SUNDAY OF EASTER – MAY 17, 2015
TEXT: JOHN 15:26-16:4; 1 PET. 4:7-14; EZEK. 36:22-28
THE HELPER KEEPS YOU FROM FALLING AWAY!
Rev. Kenneth W. Wieting


Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!  According to His great mercy he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead…To the elect…of God the Father…May grace and peace be multiplied to you (from 1 Peter 1:1-3).


Unrealistic expectations impoverish and imprison human hearts. Some of the disappointments that you face right now, some of the doubt you deal with, some of the worry that wearies you, some of the despair that Satan tempts you with is related to unrealistic expectations. Young couples have them when they marry – old ones too. Workers have them when they take a new job and when they retire. Students have them when they enter college and when they graduate. Oftentimes graduation speeches unwittingly inflame such false perspectives. “Seize the day and transform the world!”  “Believe in yourself and follow your heart.” Unrealistic expectations impoverish and imprison human hearts. This has been true ever since Satan said to the woman in her husband’s presence – You will not surely die…when you eat of it…you will be like God, knowing good and evil.


Our Lord knows about our unrealistic expectations. As our High Priest prays the night before His crucifixion, He names hard things His disciples are to expect. I have said these things to you to keep you from falling away. 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.  Jesus’ Ascension might be termed a graduation for His disciples as Jesus thereby withdrew His visible teaching presence. As they next waited for the help He promised to send – they did so with His parting counsel that included this expectation - the hour is coming when whoever kills you will think he is offering service to God. Surely Jesus would not be high on the list of potential graduation speakers this spring.

SEVENTH SUNDAY OF EASTER – MAY 17, 2015
TEXT: JOHN 15:26-16:4; 1 PET. 4:7-14; EZEK. 36:22-28
THE HELPER KEEPS YOU FROM FALLING AWAY!
Rev. Kenneth W. Wieting


Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!  According to His great mercy he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead…To the elect…of God the Father…May grace and peace be multiplied to you (from 1 Peter 1:1-3).


Unrealistic expectations impoverish and imprison human hearts. Some of the disappointments that you face right now, some of the doubt you deal with, some of the worry that wearies you, some of the despair that Satan tempts you with is related to unrealistic expectations. Young couples have them when they marry – old ones too. Workers have them when they take a new job and when they retire. Students have them when they enter college and when they graduate. Oftentimes graduation speeches unwittingly inflame such false perspectives. “Seize the day and transform the world!”  “Believe in yourself and follow your heart.” Unrealistic expectations impoverish and imprison human hearts. This has been true ever since Satan said to the woman in her husband’s presence – You will not surely die…when you eat of it…you will be like God, knowing good and evil.


Our Lord knows about our unrealistic expectations. As our High Priest prays the night before His crucifixion, He names hard things His disciples are to expect. I have said these things to you to keep you from falling away. 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.  Jesus’ Ascension might be termed a graduation for His disciples as Jesus thereby withdrew His visible teaching presence. As they next waited for the help He promised to send – they did so with His parting counsel that included this expectation - the hour is coming when whoever kills you will think he is offering service to God. Surely Jesus would not be high on the list of potential graduation speakers this spring.


Neither would Peter be in demand for campus festivities. Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed because the Spirit of the glory of God rests upon you. Not “Seize the day and transform the world” but The end of all things is at hand and rejoice in so far as you share Christ’s sufferings. The prophet Ezekiel is no better. Not “Believe in yourself and follow your heart” but 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 just decrees.


The Spirit whom God would put within His people that Ezekiel proclaimed and the Spirit of the glory of God that Peter proclaimed are the same – the Holy Spirit. He is also the one Jesus proclaimed as He told His disciples to expect religious shunning and even persecution to the death. 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. And you also will bear witness, because you have been with me from the beginning.


When the disciples returned from the Mount of Olives and Jesus’ Ascension, they knew more about Jesus than any other people had ever known. They had been with Him for three years. They had seen Him risen from death – displaying His crucifixion wounds. They had been given the office of publicly witnessing Christ and forgiving sins. Yet they were still sorely lacking!  Jesus helps prepare them indicating that they would be met with intellectual ridicule and violent persecution. Think of those stoning Stephen. They thought they were protecting God’s holy name from blasphemy. Think of Saul zealously hunting down Christians. He confidently believed that he was serving God’s holy name. Jesus knew that His disciples would need help beyond their own strength and their own resolve and their own courage. 


When the Helper comes He said - not if He comes. God would send the Helper. Helper in the Greek is Paraclete – one called alongside as your advocate -speaking for you and to you – your Comforter – your Counselor. When the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father…Have you noticed that when the mystery of the Holy Trinity is revealed he is always at work in love for you – not some dry mathematical formula?  When the Helper comes, whom I will send you from the Father, the Spirit of truth...There will be no false word from the Holy Spirit who convicts of sin and righteousness and judgment. There will be no false word from Him for the truth is Jesus and Jesus said of the Spirit, he will bear witness about me.


Dear Christians that is the bedrock expectation that Jesus tells you to holdfast concerning the presence and the work of the Holy Spirit – he will bear witness about me. The help given by the Holy Spirit is not generic spiritual stuff in nature or in yourself – not name it and claim it stuff, taking control – not even physical safety stuff in this rebellious world. Jesus who entreated His disciples to ask, ask, ask in His Name here entreats them to hear - to listen - to receive the word of the Holy Spirit. He will bear witness about me.


Is that it?  Is that God’s help for His children when they are being thrown out of the synagogue?  Is that God’s help when Christians are tempted to fall away?  Is that God’s help for those who confess Jesus and are being killed by those who think they are doing a service to God?  Is that God’s answer to every promise He has made (2 Corinthians 1:20). Yes!  It’s Jesus!  When the Helper comes…the Spirit of truth…he will bear witness about me. And you also will bear witness, because you have been with me from the beginning.


The Holy Spirit will not stop others from making life difficult for Jesus’ apostles or even taking their earthly life.. He will comfort them by bringing the words and work of the Word made flesh to them. In addition He will comfort the church by the speaking of God’s Word through the apostles’ witness to Christ. And you also will bear witness, because you have been with me from the beginning.

 

I have said all these things to keep you from falling away. Beloved that’s the help we need in this world of earthquakes and terrorism and lawlessness and the indoctrinating religion of secular atheism. We need help with temptation in this fleeting life – help against unbelief!  Our greatest need is peace of conscience and sure and certain hope in God’s love for us in Christ. That’s the help the Holy Spirit brings. The Holy Spirit comforts through Jesus’ words and Jesus’ presence and Jesus’ gifts. He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you (John 16:14).

 

I have said all these thing to keep you from falling away. Church attendance among young adults is falling away. Right now in our land, each generation is said to be more disconnected from the faith and from biblical literacy than the one before. In the face of the decline mega churches advertise “their brand” and employ marketing departments aimed at gaining “market share.”  But millennials like all of mankind do not need style points or cool bands or entertainment programming. They don’t need a sales pitch for or a better show and they don’t need to be told how to feel. They do need the ministry of Jesus Christ. They do need the humble witness of those who draw their life from Christ’s forgiving gifts. They do need God’s holiness!  Regarding these things, it is interesting that three fourths of millennials surveyed say they would choose a sanctuary over an auditorium.

 

He whose ascension we celebrated in this sanctuary Thursday night did not ascend to get away from you. True God and true man He now stands in the holy of holies at the Father’s right hand for you!  He intercedes for you with all the authority in heaven and earth!  By that authority He gave you a washing of rebirth in Holy Baptism. I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will clean you. That’s the help you need daily and it is the blessed help the Holy Spirit brings to you.


With the infinite authority of God’s right hand, Jesus does not hide His face from you but turns it towards you. In undeserved favor He turns toward you with bread made to be His body and wine made to be His blood. He feeds you with heavenly, forgiving food. He does all this to vindicate the holiness of His name. He does all this to give you and new heart and put His Spirit within you. He does all this to give expectations that are as real as His love and His gracious will for you.


Hear, O Lord, when I cry aloud. Receiving in faith what the risen LORD freely bestows, you should expect a clean heart before God. With that clean heart you should expect to be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers. You should expect to Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. As you seek to serve by the strength that God supplies, and yet see your failings, you should expect that God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape that you may be able to endure it (2 Cor. 10:13).


Beloved Jesus is the way of escape – every day – every hour – every minute!  That’s why Jesus sends the Holy Spirit who proceeds from the Father. 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. Those who put Him to death thought they were serving God. The truth is that in the Redeemer’s death God was serving the whole world with the atoning blood sacrifice for sin. Even the punishment of outer darkness which you confess that you deserve – He suffered for you.


Then, it is as you sang.


Down through the realm of darkness He strode in victory.
And at the hour appointed He rose triumphantly.
And now to heaven ascended, He sits upon the throne
Whence He had ne’er departed, His Father’s and His own.


He who sits on the throne together with the Father sends the Holy Spirit to give you expectations that are real and eternal.


You are to expect that His steadfast love endures forever.
You are to expect that He does not keep a record of your sins.
You are to expect that He will never leave you or forsake you.
You are to expect Him to be the stronghold of your life, your light and salvation.
You are to expect that to live is Christ and to die is gain – that to depart and be with Christ is far better.
You are to expect Him to come again and to rejoice when His glory is revealed.
You are to expect a day in which there will be only kindness and truth and love flowing to you from all and from you to all – a new day – a new beginning – new heavens and a new earth in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.


To Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. AMEN.

Luther Memorial Chapel & University Student Center | 3833 N Maryland Ave | Shorewood, WI  53211
(414) 332-5732 |lmcusc@lmcusc.org

Divine Service: Sundays - 9:00a Mondays - 7:00p Bible Study & Sunday School: Sundays - 10:45a