Sermon for the Day of Pentecost based on John 14:23-31
Dear recipients of comfort: Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God the Father and our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.
“Let not your hearts be troubled.” When Jesus says this to you, it is not the same as when the world says it to you. It’s not the same as the world’s “Don’t worry; be happy” or the world’s “Everything’s going to be alright.” From the world, these are merely empty platitudes; clichés spoken because the world has nothing better to say.
I know what many of you are going through, as well as those who cannot even make it here on Sundays because they are shut in or in hospitals. Cancer. Alzheimer’s. Diabetes. High blood pressure. Depression. Disabilities. Infections. Heart attacks. Strokes. The list goes on. That’s not even to get into what the families affected go through, watching their loved ones so afflicted or mourning their death.
“Don’t worry; be happy”? Save your empty fluff.
“Everything’s going to be alright”? Since when is suffering and death alright?
No, save the hollowness of those words. Those empty phrases give no comfort. They give no joy and they give no hope. Such empty phrases don’t bring joy, nor do they make anything alright.
Do not think for a minute that Jesus’ words to you are of the same sort. They’re not of the same sort because they’re not empty or hollow. Jesus says, “Let not your hearts be troubled.” When Jesus tells you not to be troubled or afraid, He gives you a reason for it. That reason is twofold. First, because Jesus gives you peace. Second, because He goes to prepare a place for you.
Jesus had this discussion with His disciples on the night He was arrested. Jesus knew what was about to happen, as He had on many occasions told His disciples. He knew He was going to be betrayed into the hands of sinful men. He knew He would be mocked and spit on, flogged nearly to death, and then crucified until dead. He knew that carrying the sins of the whole world, He would bear all of our guilt and all the punishment our sins deserve. He knew He would even be forsaken by God the Father for our sake. All of this is exactly why He tells His disciples, and tells you, “Let not your hearts be troubled.”
Let not your hearts be troubled because I am about to give you peace with God the Father by suffering hostility and hatred for you. I am about to earn you forgiveness and freedom from eternal suffering. That’s exactly what Jesus did on the cross.
What we need to realize is that all the sickness and affliction in the world is because of us and our sins. We would never get sick or suffer in any way if we weren’t sinful. We would never die if we weren’t sinful. If we loved God with our whole heart and our neighbours as ourselves, we would never be troubled or afraid of anything. We would have peace in ourselves and would have no need of Jesus.
Since we are sinful, we do not follow God’s will for our lives. We sin in thought, word, and deed. We deserve nothing but temporal and eternal punishment. We deserve suffering and death in this life and we deserve suffering and eternal death hereafter.
God would not have it so. He loves us so much that He sent Jesus Christ, His only Son, to bear the punishment of all of our sins. He suffered so that we have peace with God and the price of our sins is paid.
Because of this, Jesus says to you, “Let not your hearts be troubled, neither be afraid.” You do not need to fear the suffering of this life or even be troubled in death because all of your sins are forgiven and you have peace with God. Jesus’ death in your place has taken the sting out of death.
And Jesus ascended into heaven to prepare a place for you. You have a place being prepared for you that is not a nursing home or a hospital bed, but an eternal dwelling place with God in the new heavens and the new earth. It is a place of eternal bliss and joy and without sickness or death or sin. It is where we will dwell with God forever, seeing Him face to face.
When Jesus says “Let not your hearts be troubled,” He gives you the reason why you have nothing to fear: your sins are forgiven, you have peace with God, and He is preparing a place for you in eternity.
This Good News is what Pentecost is about. Pentecost isn’t about speaking in tongues. Pentecost isn’t about miraculous signs. Pentecost is about the Holy Spirit bringing to you the Good News of the Gospel so that you will know that your heart has no reason to be troubled and that you need to fear nothing. This message is so important that The Holy Spirit made sure that all those in Jerusalem heard it in their own language. This message is so important that the Holy Spirit still sends pastors and missionaries to bring this Good News to nations around the world in their own language.
The Holy Spirit brings to you the treasures that Jesus won for you. Jesus won for you the forgiveness of sins, peace with God, and eternal life. But how can you get those treasures? How can you receive these gifts that Jesus earned for you?
You cannot find these treasures out in nature. You cannot find these treasures inside yourself. You cannot find the gifts of God anywhere except where the Holy Spirit gives them. The Holy Spirit brings these gifts to you in the means of grace – that is, in the Gospel and in the sacraments.
The Holy Spirit gives these gifts to you when you hear Jesus’ words that tell your heart not to be troubled because you have peace with God since your sins are forgiven. The Holy Spirit gives these gifts to you when water is poured over your head in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit according to Christ’s command and promise. The Holy Spirit gives these gifts to you when you eat and drink the true body and blood of Christ given into death for you for the forgiveness of sins according to Christ’s command and promise.
That’s what Pentecost is about. It’s about the Holy Spirit bringing you Jesus. It’s about the Holy Spirit giving you the treasures through Word and Sacrament that Jesus earned for you by His life, death, and resurrection. That is the work of the Holy Spirit.
So let not your hearts be troubled. Whatever afflictions and tribulations you are facing and are still to face in your future, know that you have nothing to fear. You have peace with God through the death of Jesus since all your sins are forgiven. You have a place being prepared for you in eternity. And the Holy Spirit continues to work in you through the means of grace to keep you in the faith, to strengthen you in the faith, and to comfort your troubled heart. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. Amen.
The peace of God which surpasses all understanding will keep your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.