5/28/23 – Pentecost – “Peace with God” – John 14:23-31a

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

1. Since the tower of Babel, humanity has been confused and divided. To be sure, it’s not as if the tower of Babel was the beginning of this confusion and division—this began when Adam and Eve fell into sin. But the tower of Babel shows us the best of humanity and the worst of humanity. It shows us the best of humanity in that we humans have a deep desire for unity and harmony with one another, that we can accomplish much when we work together. But it also shows us the worst of humanity in that we humans have an inability to achieve unity and harmony on our own, and because of our sin and rebellion against our God’s commands, that which we strive to build so often goes astray from God’s will leading to confusion and division. At the tower of Babel, man sinned against God’s command to “fill the earth” (Genesis 1:28), which led to the Lord forcing humanity into fulfilling His command to fill the earth. So, the tower of Babel becomes one of the chief Old Testament pictures of how human sin leads to confusion and division in place of unity and harmony.

2. Another place where we so often see confusion and division in place of unity and harmony is in our homes and families. We love one another and we desire to have unity and harmony, but our sins so often get in the way. Someone is impatient and speaks harsh words. Feelings are hurt and suddenly there is tension and division. Or maybe someone has spoken ill of another. One thing leads to another and the two parties are no longer speaking, and a division is created as to whose side you take. Or maybe there is a miscommunication. Expectations weren’t clearly articulated for how to handle a certain family event, and so when the event comes around, there is awkwardness and confusion. Resentment grows, and so there is a division within the family. We have all been a part of these kinds of confusions and divisions in our families, our schools, our work places, and maybe even in our church. God desires unity and harmony, but our sins lead to confusion and division.

3. Well-meaning people think that they can resolve these problems on their own. If they can just reason with so-and-so, then harmony will be restored. If they can just convince both parties to forget about it and move on, then everything will be better. If people can just be reminded of how much they love each other and how short life is, they will set aside the division. If only they can teach people to think about others and how to communicate more clearly, then the confusion and awkwardness will be resolved. But, as we know, these efforts rarely work. Both sides won’t just forget about it. They may pretend to do so, but the ill feelings will just fester inside and manifest in another way. Recalling the love that we have for one another usually doesn’t resolve the issue either. If anything, it often makes it worse—if so-and-so really loved me that much, why is he treating me this way? If simply teaching proper etiquette were the antidote to poor behavior, then the detention room in our local schools and the cells in our local jail would be a lot less full. The problem is, you can’t reason with sin. Human efforts on their own will always fall short of preventing sin and resolving it’s consequences. Human and worldly efforts at peace will always fall short. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23) and “I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate” (Romans 7:15), as Saint Paul says in Romans.

4. This is why our Lord’s words in verse 27 of today’s Gospel text are so important—they offer us the antidote for the problem we all face: “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 14:27).

The peace that Christ offers is a peace which completely transcends the world’s attempts at harmony. The world cannot bring about true peace. The best that the world can do by its own efforts is to create the surface facade of peace. But Christ’s peace is true peace. It is, according to the Scripture, a peace that passes all understanding (Philippians 4:7). It is the kind of peace which truly offers harmony and unity both in this life and in the life to come because Christ’s peace is one that endures. And this peace which our Lord Jesus gives comes to us by the working of the Holy Spirit. This Spirit comes to us from the Father in the name of Jesus. He is the Paraclete, that is, the one who comes along side and grants us that which we cannot find on our own. The enduring peace of Christ is inseparable from the working of the Holy Spirit.

5. But this peace which our Lord Jesus offers us through the working of His Holy Spirit does not come to us in the ways we might expect. His peace does not solve our confusion and division in the ways we might want it to be solved. Saint Paul tells us in Romans 5: “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1). And, as St. Peter declared in his Pentecost sermon, “And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Acts 2:21).

Christ’s peace, which the Holy Spirit grants to us, is a peace with God. It is a peace grounded on the forgiveness of sins. It is a peace which comes to us by the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. At Babel, we see on display the wrath of God against sinners. Humans rebelled against His command, desiring to make themselves great. As a result He destined them to live in confusion and division. We, too, live in this confusion and division as a result of our sin and the sins of those around us. But as we desire to resolve this, we so often try to treat the symptom rather than the root cause. But just as you cannot heal an infection with a band aid, neither can you resolve human division and confusion through reason. The infection of sin must be treated. This alone can be accomplished through the forgiveness of sins won for us on the cross of Calvary.

6. The peace which Christ gives us with God is the peace which matters. We’re tempted to doubt that this peace does anything. We’re tempted to believe that what’s real is what we see with our eyes and observe with our senses. If we can’t tangibly see the effects in the here and now, then it’s worthless. And so, we end up despising the Means of Grace through which we are granted forgiveness and peace with God because we give into the lie that while Christ’s forgiveness and peace might have benefit for eternity, His forgiveness and peace certainly don’t change the here and now. And so, we prioritize physical health over spiritual health by making room in our calendars for doctor’s appointments to the detriment of Bible Study, prayer, and even the Divine Service. We prioritize so-called “mental health” over spiritual health, thinking that time away at camp or on vacation is what we truly need to re-charge, and so we go missing at church for most of the summer. We prioritize financial health over spiritual health, and so work and our “to do” lists trump our time in study, devotion, and gathering with our brothers and sisters in Christ. But Christ’s forgiveness is the only thing that matters. Peace with God is the foundation and prerequisite for all earthly peace and health. Without Christ’s peace and forgiveness, your physical health doesn’t matter because it won’t endure. Without Christ’s peace and forgiveness, your so-called “mental health” will be a wreck because your conscience won’t be at ease. Without Christ’s peace and forgiveness, your financial health won’t make a difference because it is passing away.

7. So, my friends, on this Day of Pentecost, let us treasure the forgiveness and peace which Christ offers through His Holy Spirit. Let us cease despising the free gift of grace and forgiveness which is ours in Christ. Our Lord Jesus died, rose, and ascended into heaven so that His Spirit might come to you through Word and Sacrament to grant you peace with God. Believe it! Treasure it! Apart from Him we are confused and divided. The world offers the empty promise of harmony and unity through various means. But true harmony and unity—true peace—is found in Christ’s peace alone. So, cling to Christ’s Word in all the forms through which the Holy Spirit brings it to you. Prioritize the Sacrament as the pledge of your peace with God as you dine at His table. The same Spirit who brought unity amid multiplicity on Pentecost offers you Christ’s peace. So, we have no reason to be troubled or afraid in this world. Christ’s peace is ours through the Holy Spirit. In this we rejoice!

In Jesus’ name. Amen.

This entry was posted in Audio Sermons, Sermons - Lutheran - LCMS. Bookmark the permalink.

Warning: count(): Parameter must be an array or an object that implements Countable in /home/lcjmrrnosman/domains/lcrwtvl.org/html/wp-includes/class-wp-comment-query.php on line 399