Sunday, May 15, 2016

The division of nations at Babylon is reversed at Pentecost


"THESE THINGS I have spoken to you while I am still with you.  But the Helper, the Holy Spirit whom the Father will send in my name, He will teach you ALL THINGS and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you."  John 14:25-26

"THESE THINGS I have spoken to you while I am still with you," says Jesus but the Twelve still don't get the full meaning and intent of "THESE THINGS."  Just when they think they are on the right path and THINGS  start making sense, they look for another way.  Thomas asks, "Lord, we do not know where You are going, and how can we know the way?"  (John 14:5)   Philip tries another tack and suggests, "Lord, show us the Father, and it is sufficient for us."  (John 14:8)  Judas (not Iscariot) takes a different approach and asks Jesus, "Lord, how is it that You will manifest Yourself to us, and not to the world?"  (John 14:22)

Jesus tells them:  "But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, He will teach you ALL THINGS and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you."  (John 14:26)  The Helper is promised.  Heavenly peace is proclaimed.  Now Jesus is ready to leave them and return to His Father.  Just when THINGS were becoming clearer, God's Son announces He's leaving.  The Twelve need the promised Helper to call to their remembrance ALL THE THINGS they have seen and heard.

Less than two weeks later, a mighty wind and tongues of fire roar through the Upper Room.  The Twelve, minus Judas Iscariot, but having added Saint Matthias and a great number of our Lord's disciples witness the descent of the promised Helper.  Tongues that were divided at Babel come together to tell the Good News about Jesus Christ.  A fiery sword that barred the gates of Paradise is now a fiery tongue bringing salvation -- restoring the gift -- pouring out the many THINGS Joel (2) and David (Psalm 110) had prophesied.

Today the Church celebrates with great joy the descent of the promised Holy Spirit.  Contrary to teachings of the popular religious sects, the Holy Spirit does not bring peculiar gifts that separate "true" Christians from "false" Christians.  No, the Holy Spirit comes to bring Christ to all nations, and all nations to the Good News of forgiveness and life.  The Holy Spirit comes to teach us of Jesus and what He has done for us, to give us a right judgment in ALL THINGS, that we might live in confident faith before our God here in time and hereafter in eternity.

Saint Paul writes to the church in Corinth:  "do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?  For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God's."  (1 Cor. 6:19)  St. Peter (1 Peter 2) calls us new born babes being built up as God's House of living stones, bathed in Baptism, fed with Christ's Body and Blood, sustained by the forgiveness of sins.  The writer to the Hebrews reminds us:  "But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel."  (Heb. 12:22-24)  The Spirit inspired Scriptures repeatedly tell us of THESE THINGS, yet we live as if there is no such THING as the Holy Spirit.

We pollute our bodies with the eye and ear candy of the world.  Seemingly everything on television shoves sexual immorality in our eyes, through our minds, and down our throats.  Weekends were made for Michelob, not for receiving the HOLY THINGS.  We know the intricacies of the NBA playoff series better than the books of the Bible.  The stories we long to hear are found on soap operas, not in God's Word.  What the world portrays as peace from the daily grind is far from the peace proclaimed by Christ and His messengers.  The world goes so far as to mock and ridicule those who receive peace each Lord's day in the Lord's house as a foolish THING.

Who do you love?  Do you love the world that longs for you to make a name for yourself?  Or the God Who loves you and comes to you and makes His home with you?  Or have you decided to serve both in your life?  St. John writes:  "do not love the world or the THINGS in the world.  If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in Him."  (1 John 2:15)  You cannot talk out of both sides of your mouth.  Reject the one, love the other, or live in fear of the judgment.

Learn to pray the prayer of the ancient Church:  "Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of the faithful, and kindle in them the fire of Thy love."  Without Jesus Christ, you are an empty vessel.  The world fills you up with pride, arrogance, hatred, anger, fear, and betrayal.  The world offers nothing eternal except death.  Jesus Christ gives you everything the world despises, even an end to death.  When Jesus tells the Twelve, "Arise, let us go from here," (John 14:31b) THINGS will never be the same for them and the whole of creation.  They rise to see Him do as Thomas said, "Let us also go that we may die with Him."  (John 11:16)

It is odd to think that going with Christ is dying with Christ.  In Holy Baptism, the Holy Spirit binds you to Jesus.  You are with Him whatever He does and wherever He goes.  When He walks you walk with Him.  When He raises Lazarus from the dead, He raises you from the dead.  When He sweats blood, is nailed to a cross, and dies a criminal's death, you die with Him, and He dies for you.  When He rises from the dead, you too rise with Him.  When He ascends to heaven, you will rise with Him.  This is the right judgment the Holy Spirit brings you.  You are judged worthy of everlasting life because of Jesus.  Your death is dead.  Your life is forever, because of THESE THINGS. 

Everlasting life gives you all the more to rejoice in His holy comfort.  Today He prepares a Table in the sight of your enemies.  The Lord of hosts makes for you a feast of choice pieces, of fat THINGS full of marrow.  This Feast, this Lord's Supper, is the Feast of victory of our God.  This Feast puts forgiveness, life, and salvation in your mouth.  You swallow Christ's True Body and True Blood, as Christ swallowed up death forever.

THESE HOLY THINGS the Holy Spirit brings to your remembrance every Lord's Day in the Divine Liturgy.  You confess who the Spirit is and what the Spirit does in the Creed.

When you confess the Holy Spirit, you think of Christ's Church Militant here and Christ's Church Triumphant yet to come.  You confess the communion of saints, both here in this world and there in the world to come, gathered around pulpit and altar feeding on the Lamb of God Who takes away the sin of the world,.  You confess the forgiveness of sins, the comfort the Holy Spirit delivers through Word, water, bread, and wine.  You confess the resurrection of the body, that stills the troubled heart with the sure and certain hope that you shall not die, but live.  You confess life everlasting, longing for Jesus Christ to make good His promise, "I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you."  (John 14:18)

Rejoice, you who are made righteous in the blood of Christ!  The Holy Spirit dwells in you through Baptism and dwells in the Church through preaching and the visible Gospel in Baptism and the Lord's Supper.  THESE HOLY THINGS teach the hearts of Christ's faithful, bring a right judgment in all THINGS, and cause us to rejoice in holy comfort.  Blessed are you who see and hear the Spirit of the Lord filling the world, sent by the Father and the Son, who with the Spirit are three-in-one and one-in-three, Holy Trinity, one God, unto eternity.  Amen


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