Text: John 15:26,27; 16:4-11 May 23, 2010
Theme: Send, O Lord, Your Holy Spirit
Dear friends in Christ.
Back in the 1800’s or possibly even earlier than that, an unknown hymn writer wrote the words to the hymn which our hymnals number as 545, Send, O Lord, Your Holy Spirit. Originally appearing in a book containing both secular and sacred songs for use in Lutheran elementary schools, the heading for this hymn read, “For the installation of a Teacher.” And if you think about it, what better song or hymn could be sung at the installation of a Teacher than a song that is a prayer to the Lord that he would send his Holy Spirit upon this servant so that he might faithfully carry out his duties of teaching young children the precious truths of salvation in Christ Jesus our Savior. Well, today, as we celebrate the festival of Pentecost, we join our hearts and voices in that same prayer as we ask the Lord our God to send his Holy Spirit just as he promised to do. In fact, this is the very thing that our Savior is promising to do for us as John records in our text. Jesus says, “When the Counselor comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father, he will testify about me. And you also must testify, for you have been with me from the beginning. ” “I have told you this, so that when the time comes you will remember that I warned you. I did not tell you this at first because I was with you. “Now I am going to him who sent me, yet none of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’ Because I have said these things, you are filled with grief. But I tell you the truth: It is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. ” (John 15:26,27; 16:4–7, NIV)
Now, when Jesus spoke these words, it was the second time he had clearly promised his disciples that he would send the Comforter, the Holy Spirit, to them who would teach them all things, remind them of all he had told them, and enable them to testify to the Word. Though he had promised to send the Holy Spirit maybe an hour earlier while he and his disciples were reclining in the upper room, they had now left the comfort of that room and were most likely sitting together in Gethsemane where Jesus would soon be arrested and taken from their side, be handed over to be crucified, and give his life over to death. Though the disciples would see him again after his resurrection, no longer would have spend time with them like he did before his crucifixion. Thus in his last moments with his disciples, he promises them that he would not leave them alone, but that after he had departed, he would send them the Comforter—the Holy Spirit who would testify about Jesus, who would enable the disciples to testify as well, and who, through that very testimony, would convict the world of sin and unbelief.
It was this very promise, to send the Holy Spirit that Jesus fulfilled as he sent the Holy Spirit to his disciples roughly two months later, on the Day of Pentecost. Just, as Luke told us in our second lesson, from Acts 2: “When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them. ” (Acts 2:1–4, NIV)
What an incredible day it must have been for the disciples when Jesus delivered on his promise to send the Holy Spirit. What an incredible thing it must have been to be in that house, hearing the sound of a rushing wind moving through the house and yet, not a single curtain, drapery, or even shade fluttered in the slightest. What an incredible thing it must have been to see the tongues of fire separating and lighting on their heads, yet not one of the hairs on their heads was singed. What an incredible thing that suddenly these men who had received little to no schooling were able to speak in other languages as the Holy Spirit enabled them! What an incredible thing it must have been for them to realize that this was the very thing of which Jesus had been speaking when he had told them, “When the Counselor comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father, he will testify about me. And you also must testify, for you have been with me from the beginning. Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. When he comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment: in regard to sin, because men do not believe in me; in regard to righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer; and in regard to judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned. ” (John 15:26,27; 16:7–11, NIV)
Jesus delivered exactly what he had promised when he sent the Holy Spirit to the disciples on that Pentecost Day, for just as Jesus had said, the Holy Spirit came to them testifying about Jesus to the disciples upon whom he came and through the disciples upon whom he came. On that day, the Holy Spirit testified about Jesus to all the peoples of the world who had gathered in Jerusalem. Through the disciples whom he had blessed with the ability to speak all sorts of different languages, The Holy Spirit testified about Jesus and convicted those present in regard to sin, righteousness, and judgment. Just listen to what Peter had to say in his sermon to the people present that day: “Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say. These men are not drunk, as you suppose. It’s only nine in the morning! No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: “ ‘In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams. …Men of Israel, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know. This man was handed over to you by God’s set purpose and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross. But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him. …Brothers, I can tell you confidently that the patriarch David died and was buried, and his tomb is here to this day. But he was a prophet and knew that God had promised him on oath that he would place one of his descendants on his throne. Seeing what was ahead, he spoke of the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to the grave, nor did his body see decay. God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of the fact. Exalted to the right hand of God, he has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and has poured out what you now see and hear. …Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.” When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.” With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.” Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day. ” (Acts 2:14–17, 22–24, 29–33, 36–41, NIV)
Through the work of the Holy Spirit whom Jesus sent to his disciples, 3000 people were cut to the heart and convicted of their sins. 3000 people realized that they were sinners who had not believed in the Jesus, the Messiah whom the Lord had sent to save them from their sins. 3000 people came to realize that the righteousness they thought they had could not possibly measure up to the righteousness of Jesus, the Sinless Son of God. 3000 people realized that if they continued on in the way they were going they would receive the very same judgment that satan had received when Jesus died and rose again. Through the testimony of the Holy Spirit proclaimed by the disciples on that Pentecost Day, 3000 people came to faith in Jesus Christ as their Savior, received the declaration of God’s righteousness through faith in Jesus and found that since they had been judged as God’s chosen people through faith, they were free from the judgment that the Lord had declared on the prince of this world.
This is what the Holy Spirit is still doing for you and me today, which is why our prayer today is that the Lord would send his Holy Spirit to us so that he might still testify to us about Jesus Christ our Savior. Our prayer is that the Lord would send his Holy Spirit to us so the Holy Spirit might continue to testify to us about Christ Jesus our Savior, so that we too, through the Holy Spirit might go out and testify to the world about our Savior. This is why it is so important for each and every one of us to gather regularly for worship whether we are enjoying time at home or we’re away on vacation. This is why it is so important for each and every one of us to be in the Word of God on a regular basis. This is why it is so important for our children to gather for Sunday School and confirmation Class. This is why it is so important for our Adults to gather each week to delve deeper into the truths of God in Bible Study. It is so important to us because it is through the Word of God that the Holy Spirit still comes to us, speaks to us, testifies to us about Jesus, and prepares and enables us to testify about Jesus whenever we are asked about our faith.
This is also why I have often encouraged you to consider sending your children to Christian Grade Schools in St. Peter or Belle Plaine, and to consider sending your children to MVL for a Christian High School education. I have often encouraged you to consider our Lutheran Elementary Schools and High School because it is in these schools that children are surrounded with the word of God in the same way that children in our public schools are surrounded by evolution. Not please understand what I’m saying. We have a great public school system here. Our children receive an excellent education in our public school. Never the less, many of you parents have spoken about how your children speak about evolution as fact, and I have had students question the validity of the Creation account in Confirmation Class, and even argue against it. This is why I have encouraged you to consider utilizing our Lutheran Schools so that your child might be surrounded with the Word of God, so that your child will be taught from the perspective of Scriptural authority, so that through that daily connection with God’s Word, the Holy Spirit can continually work in your children’s hearts and strengthen their faith and their love for their Savior. In fact, if you want an example of this, just look at my children know about their Savior and how their faith shines through in everything they say and do simply because the Holy Spirit has the opportunity to testify to them through God’s Word on a daily basis.
Because the Lord Jesus has sent his Holy Spirit to us through his Word, we now hear him testifying to us about Jesus our Savior. He is also the one who now enables us to testify to the world about Jesus our Savior. He is the one who enables us to share our faith with others in the world so that they too might know what we believe. He is the one who uses those small testimonies to convict the world in regard to sin, righteousness and judgment. For through those moments when we share our faith, he is able to speak to the heart and convict that person in regard to sin, righteousness, and judgment. Sometimes it will be a clear victory as the person reacts like the 3000 on Pentecost who recognized their sins and were called to faith in Jesus and were added to the kingdom of God on that day. Sometimes it will be a more prolonged process as the Holy Spirit continues to convict that person in regard to sin, righteousness and judgment through our regular discussions of faith or our continually invites to worship. But sometimes it will be victory that displays the Lord’s glory and righteousness as the person simply refuses to listen to the Holy Spirit, remains trapped in their sins and unrighteousness and continues on the path that will lead to their eternal judgment. Though God our Savior does want all people to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth not everyone will. Though we are saddened to see those who reject the Holy Spirit in this way, God’s righteousness shines through in their choice to refuse the gift of salvation which the Lord Jesus has given us through the Holy Spirit.
Thus, our prayer today, has been that prayer written so many years ago, by an anonymous German hymn writer, “Send, O Lord, your Holy Spirit,” which is exactly what our Savior has done for us. He is the one who promised to send the Holy Spirit to his disciples, even before he was taken from them. He is the one who delivered on that promise on the Day of Pentecost when he sent the Holy Spirit in a stunning display of power and might. He is the one who continues to send His Holy Spirit into our hearts through the Word that he has given us.
Pastor David M. Shilling
Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church --Le Sueur, MN