Fifth Sunday of Easter
[John 16:5-7] Jesus said: “But now I am going to him who sent me, and none of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’ 6 But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart. 7 Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you.”
Grace, mercy, and peace be to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
Jesus Sends Us the Helper, the Holy Spirit
I’ll show him; I’ll show her; I’ll show the world. I’ll get angry – I’ll get steamed up – and I’ll let it all pour out my mouth. I’ll really blow my top, and that will set them right. Afterall, what do they know! They are all so wrong about everything… and I really know what I’m talking about.
No, “the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God” [Today’s Epistle lesson, James 1:20].
Getting irritable yet? Getting testy yet? With family? With those people at the store? With the news headlines? With decisions made or not made?
Your irritability does not help produce the righteousness of God. And getting angry does not give us peace. My quick and loud opinion isn’t making anything, or anybody, any better.
Instead, “let every person” – that means you and me – “let every person be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger.”
Don’t let your irritability get the best of you. Instead, let unpleasant times and people be for the strengthening of your patience. Let God use hardship as the weight-room that exercises you, shaping and strengthening you into the image of His Son. Patient. Forgiving. Not quickly angered. At peace.
We should each remember that we ourselves have often been wrong, and will be again. And there are many things that only God knows. Also, God might use someone else’s mistake or fault to accomplish His good goal. Only God knows.
Therefore, be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger. And do not despair or be overly troubled in heart. For your peace, you have a Helper – the Holy Spirit.
Jesus told His disciples, “It is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you.” [John 16:6-7]
Sorrow had filled the disciples’ hearts because Jesus told them that He would be going away to the Father. And, indeed, our true source of sorrow right now and always is that we are not yet with our Lord Jesus. He is what’s missing. His absence is what keeps us from any lasting joy.
It’s Easter. We remember that our Lord Jesus has died for us to atone for all our sin – He has made peace between us and God – and that Christ has risen for us to raise us to new life in Him.
And, soon, we will encounter Ascension Thursday – the reminder that forty days after Christ’s resurrection, He ascended into heaven to take His place at the right hand of God.
Christ is always with us, yet is away. We don’t have Him face to face. There is a lot of sorrow in this time period of our earthly life as we wait for the Lord.
So, we remember all the more the promise of today’s Gospel reading: Jesus has sent us the Helper, the Holy Spirit. We do have Help from God.
The Holy Spirit, the Helper, was given by Christ, from His seat at God’s right hand in heaven, to His Church – the assembly of those who believe in Christ - on Pentecost.
The Holy Spirit was given to each of you, individually, in your Baptism – just as the Holy Spirit descended on Christ in His Baptism. You are Baptized. You have a Helper. A Helper for peace.
In another place, two chapters earlier, where Jesus was promising this same Helper, Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” [John 14:25-27]
The Holy Spirit gives you peace by bringing to your remembrance all that Jesus has said and promised [John 14:26]. The Holy Spirit gives you peace because He bears witness about Jesus [John 15:26]. The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Truth [John 15:26] who bears witness to God’s love for you in Christ.
The Holy Spirit teaches you, daily, that by the atoning death of Jesus you are now at peace with God. Being at peace with God, you can now have peace in every situation.
Our hearts fail, and our own ability to focus on Jesus fails. The Helper does not fail. Neither fear nor uncertainty – nor the agitation of your sinful-nature – will overcome the Holy Spirit. Even at your worst, the Helper is there for your peace.
We remember other words about this promise of the Holy Spirit as our Helper in other places of Scripture – [Romans 8:26] “Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.”
Thanks be to our Crucified and Risen Lord Jesus that He forgives us and loves us so that He sends us such a Helper from His Ascension throne: A Helper who goes beyond our own abilities and gives us that peace which the world cannot give. Amen.
Now may the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.