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Words of comfort amid strife

John 16:5-15

Pastor David Ernst

Epiphany Lutheran Mission of La Caramuca  
Barinas, Venezuela

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Sun, Apr 29, 2018 

Christ is risen!

He is risen indeed!

Our text is part of Jesus' farewell to His disciples before His death and resurrection. In this Easter season, the 40 days between the resurrection and the ascension, we ponder what Jesus said before His victory on the cross to prepare us for what is to come. That is, the ascension, also the day of Pentecost when the whole church received the Holy Spirit.

In the verses preceding our text, Jesus told them something hard to take: "These things I have spoken to you so that you will not be scandalized, they will drive you out of the synagogues, and the time is coming when anyone who kills you will think he is serving God. And this they will do to you, because they have not known the Father, nor me, but I have told you this, so that when the time comes, you remember that I had told you, but this I did not tell you at the beginning, because I was with you."

These are words and the following are words of comfort for the disciples and for us. In what way? Jesus told them that the days of trials and difficulties would come, but He would not stay with them in a visible form. "I'm going to the Father."

This fourth Sunday after Easter is called "Cantate" in Latin, which means "Sing." So, our psalm is Psalm 98, "Sing to the Lord a new song" because he has done wonders. What wonders? What is our reason for joy and songs?

Truly, the disciples were saddened. Therefore, the Lord said to them, "But now I am going to the one who sent me, and none of you asks me: Where are you going? But because I have told you these things, sadness has filled your heart, but I tell you the truth. It is necessary for me to leave, because if I do not go, the Comforter will not come to you, but if I leave, I will send him to you. "

In the original language, it is very clear, it would be better for Jesus to leave. The Comforter is the Holy Spirit, which we confess is the Lord and giver of life. According to the plan of salvation, it was necessary for the Son of God to put aside His divine nature, and He came down from heaven to be born of the Virgin Mary; grow up as the son of Joseph the carpenter; to fulfill the Law in our places; suffer and die on the cross; and rise on the third day. In addition, to return to the Father in His divinity and his human nature. In this state, the Father, who sent the Son to earth, and the risen Christ could both send the Holy Spirit to the church.

In the ascension of Jesus as true God and true man, His human nature was glorified. Therefore, the Holy Spirit can work the glorification of us in our humanity. As our Lord, we will die, we will also be resurrected. So says St. Paul in 1 Thessalonians 4:17, on the final day, all believers, alive or dead, "shall be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air." Some sects call this event "the rapture," but they believe that it will happen before the coming of the Lord in glory. But, this is not the truth. Everything will happen the same day.

In that culture, to be seated to the right of the king, meant the king had given one all his authority. Because of His ascension, Jesus received all the authority of the Father not only as His Son, but also as the descendant of King David. To share our humanity and at the same time to govern the universe.

He is not with us now in visible form, but through the work of the Holy Spirit, He lives in us. By the power of the Holy Spirit, heaven and earth were created. Also by the power of the Holy Spirit, the Virgin Mary conceived Jesus Christ without an earthly father. The Spirit entered Mary and made flesh the Word in her womb. We receive in the Holy Spirit in baptism, then the body and blood of the Word made flesh in the Holy Supper. The Christian life begins with baptism and the gift of faith; the work of the Holy Spirit continues until our resurrection to receive the Lord in glory. Now we are God's saints and sinners still. In that day we will be resurrected by the power of the Holy Spirit to live with Jesus forever.

This is the consolation. Jesus was to ascend to the Father, leaving His disciples in a sinful and dangerous world. But with the promise of His presence in the Word and the sacraments by the power of the Holy Spirit that He and His Father sent us.

We have the testimony of the resurrection of Jesus. There is evidence of the reality of this event. But, faith in the promise of eternal life comes from the gift of the Spirit. The Holy Spirit is active in the Word and the sacraments, not only for the sanctification of every believer, but also to gather and enlighten the church. By the work of the Spirit we are not alone in this world. The Spirit calls us to the church to hear the Word and receive the sacraments. For the sake of the Holy Spirit, the Scriptures are not simply ink and paper, wisdom of antiquity like the books of the philosophers. When I read the Scriptures, it is the voice of Christ.

In this living Word, we have the joy, hope and peace that surpasses all understanding. Amen.

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