In the name of the Father and of the +Son and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.
For the Word of Jesus is not like other people’s words. It actually gives what it says. He says, “Let not your hearts be troubled, nor let them be afraid.” Those are commands. Don’t let yourself get all excited, stirred up, befuzzled, and have courage. You have reasons to be afraid. Your fear is not unwarranted. But have courage. For courage is not the absence of fear, but strength to go on even in the midst of fear.
When Our Lord says this it is not merely a vain command that you haven’t the strength to comply with but it is a word that imparts exactly what it gives. It gives courage. It gives calm and sobermindedness in the midst of anxiety. It gives the ability to keep calm and carry on.
They had reason to fear. The Lord spoke these things the night He would be taken captive, put on trial, and within 24 hours He would be dead. He knew well why His disciples would fear—fear for their lives. But they must not lose their heads. They must not give way to fear and despair. They must be courageous in the midst of chaos, evil, and the terror of death.
Why? Because He will leave His peace with them. Peace with God. Freedom from Father’s anger and warfare against sin. For a thousand years Jews offered blood sacrifices in the temple twice a day because of their sin. But when Our Lord departed He would leave behind peace. Peace with God. Eternal peace based not on the blood of bulls, but on His blood poured out at the cross as the perfect Passover lamb. He goes to Father to give His life blood to the Father in place of theirs. They have peace with His Father because of Him.
But not only that! He will send His Helper, His Spirit to them. That Helper who advocates for us, who encourages us, who pleads for us before the Father, and pleads within us the Father’s love for us in our own hearts. He will come. Just 53 days after Our Lord said this the Helper would be there on day of Pentecost.
So Our Lord’s 12 apostles, do not be afraid, for the Spirit will take care of everything. He will teach you what you need to know. He will remind you of all Our Lord said. And that was necessary. For have you ever noticed when you are anxious, scared, or emotional, how your mind doesn’t work? The stuff you planned to do, the words you planned to say just fall out of your head? Well, fear, terror, apprehension? The apostles would know that! Our Lord was sending them out to preach Him before kings, to tell the masses of their saviour, to be His eyewitnesses giving account of all they saw so that people even generations later would believe.
When Our Lord says something His Word imparts the power to do it. His Word imparts the Holy Spirit to give them one word: His word. To remind them when their minds were overcome by fear. To teach them when sin made them stupid. To put His Word in their hearts when their leaky hearts emptied out His Word.
That’s what the Holy Spirit does. He is quiet. He is unassuming. He is powerful. He gets inside you. He is the power that makes Our Lord’s Word different from all other persons’ words.
Our Lord was sending these men out as eyewitnesses. He would send them His needed Holy Spirit to remember it all. To give witness to it. To write it down so that you and I might know of it and believe in Him.
For He unites the heart of the Church so that we speak the same language, the same words: Words of grace and truth filled with Jesus. This is what the day of Pentecost was: the reuniting of the broken, fractured shards of mankind by that One Word, who is Jesus. Just as they once had the unity of the same language and the same words, now through the Word made flesh, there would be unity again. Even though people might continue to speak other languages, there was a common faith, a common word in their hearts. Jesus. The Word of God. The love of God. The peace of God. Jesus.
There is no other word that gives peace with God other than Jesus. There is no other word that gives God’s love to you other than Jesus. There is no other word that gives the fullness of God to you other than Jesus. Jesus is the word that must be in your heart, and on your lips. He is the unifying word that gives freedom from God’s warfare in your conscience against you. Even freedom from warfare in our world when people love this Word of God. For the word Jesus means “God is salvation” and that word delivers what it says. For Jesus is a man who is God, and who is God’s salvation for you. He does what His name says: God is salvation. His Word, His name, saves you.
Thus, though the prince of world is coming, he has no ownership, no claim on Our Lord. For Our Lord is lord of him. Satan is God’s devil. He can only do what God lets him do. Roar though He might, he has no power over Christ and His chosen ones. He is a caged lion, able to scare some with his roar, but unable to harm those set free of his cage. Thus, Satan has no power over those whom Christ has put His name on. Holy Baptism is a powerful thing for the name of God is put on you there. God is salvation. That one word which does everything is on you. Satan has whole world in His sway. But not Christ. Not you. Not those who belong to Christ whose name is on them.
The Helper is ours. He comes quietly, shyly even, without flash or sizzle. Coming to us through water united with the name of God. And through words, Christ’s words, spoken in our hearing. One word unites the Church, calls the sons of Adam and the daughters of Eve out of Satan’s power, and makes a body for Christ in this word to speak through, and enlightens us to speak that word so that more might be called unto Him.
For I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Holy Christian Church, the communion of the saints, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting.
In +Jesus’ name, Amen.
—Pastor David Haberstock
Epiphany Lutheran ChurchThunder Bay, ON