Peace in Troubled Times
Stephen Jones • Sermon •
· In the early days of WWII, Japanese forces swarmed onto the Philippine islands, overwhelming the Filipino and American troops that were stationed there. At the time, General Douglas MacArthur was commanding the army there, but the US were simply not well enough equipped to defend the islands. They were short on supplies and greatly outnumbered.
· MacArthur was ordered to go to Australia without his soldiers to organize a counterattack in the Pacific theater. At first, he refused to leave his hungry, desperate men, behind, but when President Roosevelt insisted that he go, MacArthur reluctantly escaped, secretly slipping past the Japanese navy by boat and by plane. Once in Australia, in March 1942, MacArthur contacted his men back in the Philippines and made a solemn pledge: “I shall return.”
· The next month, unable to hold out any longer, 75,000 US and Filipino troops surrendered to the Japanese. It was the largest mass surrender in American history. Many of these troops were tortured or killed. It was also during this time that allied troops were forced to make the infamous ‘65-mile Bataan Death March’ to prison camps.
· Over the next two and a half years, General MacArthur and the US would fight their way back across the Pacific, island by island. In the fall of 1944, MacArthur finally defeated the Japanese on the Philippines, wading back on shore to fulfill his pledge ‘to return’ and to liberate the islands. (Source: American Patriot’s Almanac)
· As Jesus announced His departure to His disciples there in the Upper Room, I’m sure the disciples felt something like those soldiers in the Philippines – frightened, overwhelmed, perhaps even abandoned.
· What started as a simple celebration of the Passover meal had turned into a sobering last supper together. The early hours of dinner conversation and laughter had turned into a deathly silence. I’m sure as Jesus spoke, you could have heard a pin drop in that upper room. So much was changing so fast. Already, we’ve heard four different disciples interject:
- Peter asked – Lord, where are you going? (13:36)
- Thomas asked – Lord, we do not know where you are going, how do we know the way? (14:5)
- Philip said – Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us (14:8)
- Judas (Thaddeus) asked – Lord, what then has happened that You are going to disclose Yourself to us and not to the world? (14:22)
· Jesus has given words of comfort and instruction.
· Perhaps, like the disciples, you are burdened today. Your heart is turbulent, you feel frightened and abandoned, and it seems as though life itself is crumbling under you. I believe Jesus’ words can be a tremendous comfort to you as well …
· Rd. vv. 25-31
· TWO WAYS JESUS HAS EQUIPPED US:
Given us His Spirit
· Already, last week, we saw this in vv. 18-24, but v. 26 is one of the most fullest descriptions in whole Gospel
· JI Packer writes, ‘The doctrine of the Holy Spirit is the Cinderella of Christian doctrines. Comparatively few seem to be interested in it. Many excellent books have been written on the person and work of Christ, but the number of books worth reading on the person and work of the Holy Spirit, even in this charismatic era, is small” (Source: Knowing God)
· Notice several features of this person Jesus has given us:
- He is Spirit – This is His most common title. Old King James called Him ‘Holy Ghost,’ but this is a misleading title that conjures up images today of haunted houses and disembodied spirits floating around. Already saw in ch. 4 that “God [the Father] is Spirit.” But here, the 3rd Person of the Trinity is also called the ‘Spirit.’ The Gk. word for ‘Spirit’ is the same as ‘wind’ or ‘breath.’ In fact, Jesus even had a play on words in John 3:8 “The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit.” We should not expect to see Him, but we can be confident He is present.
- He is Holy – This is the most common attribute associated with the Spirit. Not only is He morally pure and completely set apart, but He is the source of holiness. He is the one who makes holiness possible in our lives. We can never talk about our own growth and sanctification without recognizing the role of the HS in our lives.
- He is a Helper – ‘to call alongside’; comforter, counselor; another helper of the very same kind as Jesus was while on the earth. Gives truth, presence of Christ, ability to love and obey God. Just when we feel powerless, we realize Christ has sent His divine Helper to come alongside us and strengthen us. I like to think of Him as the ‘divine SWAT team,’ that is called in with all His equipment and training to help us with a mission we could not handle on our own. He is a most powerful ally.
- He is sent by Father in name of Son – here we see something of the Trinitarian nature of the Spirit, that He has unity with Father and Son, but is separate from them. He is obedient to them and works on their behalf.
- He is a teacher. Two words – teach (train, instruct, our tutor) and remind. Cf 1 John 2:27 As for you, the anointing which you received from Him abides in you, and you have no need for anyone to teach you; but as His anointing teaches you about all things, and is true and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you abide in Him.
· Now here’s the main point – though Jesus spoke in part, the Spirit would give the whole.
· New understanding – the aha moment: ‘now I get it!/’ John 2:18 //The Jews then said to Him, “What sign do You show us as your authority for doing these things?” 19 //Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” 20 //The Jews then said, “It took forty-six years to build this temple, and will You raise it up in three days?” 21 //But He was speaking of the temple of His body. 22 //So when He was raised from the dead, His disciples remembered that He said this; and they believed the Scripture and the word which Jesus had spoken./
· New revelation – Jesus and the apostles always treated the OT as God’s Word, breathed out by Him. 2 Timothy 3:16 All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; But how do we know the NT was also written by God? Jesus here is authorizing future revelation He will give through His apostles. Because of this verse, we can have confidence that the NT is just as inspired and authoritative as the OT. When we read our NT, we can be confident these are not man’s words, but the very word of Christ. They come with His endorsement.
· Illumination today – 1 Corinthians 2:14 But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised. 15 But he who is spiritual appraises all things, yet he himself is appraised by no one. 16 For who has known the mind of the Lord, that he will instruct Him? But we have the mind of Christ.
· Next week, we will consider how to prepare and how to receive this truth – ‘how to listen to a sermon’
· The Spirit is indeed a great gift to equip us for life. But there is a second way Jesus has equipped us…
Puts peace in our hearts
· As I watched the millions gather in Washington this week for the inauguration, I saw the faces of people yearning for peace. Everyone wants peace – peace from unemployment, peace from foreclosure, peace from this war on terror, peace from uncertainty of the future, peace in their home. Statistics show that suicide is on the rise in this recession. These are indeed troubled times. Yet Jesus says…
· Stop letting heart be troubled. (remember the distress upon the disciples!)
· Instead, have peace – calmness and comfort of heart.
· How?? Maybe you feel like, “I can’t help it.” How does His absence give us peace? Several reasons. We can have peace because…
1. Jesus gives it to us – peace with God leads to peace of God; Christ’s peace demonstrated. World chases after peace – perhaps money will bring it? Good looks? Sex? Alcohol? Drugs? A new government? Accept no substitutes. (Are you chasing after the world’s peace, or have you found true peace through Jesus?)
2. Announced departure in advance – v. 29. He is in control; preparing a place; produces faith, not doubt
3. Promise to return – v. 3. How comforting to know that, like MacArthur, Jesus will win the victory and return to His people.
4. Joy for the Son – v. 28. gets eyes off self and onto Christ
5. Obedience – v. 31. His loving obedience to the Father gives us peace
· There is much trouble in this world, but Jesus has equipped us with the Spirit and with Peace.
· Lean heavily upon these gifts Christ has given to you. Walk in the Spirit, spend time in His Word. Remember the peace that is yours through Christ.
1 Corinthians 15:57 thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.