Saturday, May 28, 2011

Easter 6

Prayer of the Day “O God, from whom all good things do come: Lead us by the inspiration of Your Spirit to think those things that are right, and by Your goodness help us to do them.

Jesus promises not to leave the disciples desolate, for He will send the Spirit. Jesus’ final discourse continues from last Sunday. It deals with the fate of the disciples after His departure. The Ascension is coming. Then what? Jesus reminds His followers that love is obeying His commands, particularly the command to love one another. He assures them that He will not leave them desolate, for He will send the Spirit. By the Spirit He will be with them. Christianity is a relationship: Through the Spirit, there is a oneness with Christ who is one with the Father. When a person cannot be present at an event, he sometimes says, “I’ll be with you in spirit.”

Jesus said to His disciples that he is about to leave them, for his death and ascension are coming soon. For their comfort, He tells them He will come to them in the Spirit. They will not be left desolate in a hostile world. He will be with them in Spirit. Jesus promises to come to us. To help fight off these feelings of fear and fright we might try to fill our lives with many comforts in order to stop the feeling, but even these fall fairly short in calming our fears of being abandoned.

In our text for today Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior reaches out to His fearful, lonely and hurting followers of all ages when He says to us "I will not leave you desolate" These words of comfort and hope mirror the last five words that He spoke to humans before He ascended into heaven when He said in Matthew 28 "I am with you always..." Jesus our Savior gives to us His guarantee that He will not walk out on us. Consider His words and promises this day.
[1] In the Spirit — v. 16. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever—Jesus guarantees for us that the Spirit will come.

A. The disciples needed this word of comfort and promise as they felt lost and abandoned.
1. Jesus' own words were a direct response to Thomas who, along with the rest of the disciples felt troubled and abandoned. Thomas asked Jesus "Lord, we don't know where you are going, so how can we know the way?"
2. The events of Jesus' life that were about to unfold, events that they would experience; arrest, trial, crucifixion, entombment furthered a feeling of abandonment and being forsaken.
3. Soon after would come the Resurrection, Ascension and Pentecost. Yet the still felt as if Jesus were to leave them.
4. They felt as if they were being separated from the presence and person of Christ. True, we can look at these circumstances and say why of course the Savior was with His disciples. He was speaking to them... they were in His presence, and throughout the events of the passion He remained with them. Yet, as we so well know, Perception so often becomes reality! They felt as if Jesus was going to leave them, and so, that became their reality. What we perceive to become reality can happen to us as well.

B. We too can experience the same feelings of abandonment.
1. We experience trials, sickness and death. And what do we feel. We feel as if Christ has left us.
2. When this happens, all of our options all seem to be bad. We feel as if we are thrown to the wind with no one to help us. We lose our sense of direction and our sense of perspective because our fears of loneliness overwhelm us.
3. These feelings of hopelessness have become a product of our times. We live with such rapid changes all around us. There are family problems, jobs that are threatened, economic situations and issues that appear to be out of our control. And because so much is beyond our control, we can feel the sense that we are losing control.
4. It is then that we conclude that our life is full of troubles and challenges and how weak we really are. As the old quip reminds us, "any fool can handle a crisis it's the day to day living that wears us down!"

C. In this midst of this trouble and strife, this chaos and confusion that the Savior comes to us with His Word of comfort and promise. Jesus understands our station in life and He promises to do something about our sorry lot. He promises us the Counselor.
1. Jesus promises that the Holy Spirit will come and appears on our behalf to be a mediator, an intercessor, and a genuine helper for us.
2. Who is this counselor? He is the Spirit of truth, the One who can be known and revived only by faith. He is the One who dwells and lives within us. While so many live with the mistaken notion that perception is reality, the Savior confirms to us that He is the reality and the solution to our feelings of abandonment.

D. We are not left helpless.
1. The helplessness and precariousness of life are ultimate and overwhelming only if we live spiritually alone. If there is something wrong with your religion is has nothing to do with God! If we feel separated from God who has done the walking?
2. God has given His Word and promise that He will never leave us nor forsake us. He will not leave us desolate. By the Father's grace, through the Gospel, the Holy Spirit, the Advocate lives in us.
3. Therefore we are not alone. We are not abandoned. We are not mere objects of fate, or spiritual no-bodies going nowhere. He is the One who directs us. Therefore our prayer must be "Jesus, Savior Pilot Me"
4. Jesus will direct us through the power of His Holy Spirit. But the indwelling of the Holy Spirit we can say "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? In all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us"

[2] Jesus has promised that He will come
. A. He spoke of His leaving.
1. He told His followers that He would soon leave them by going to the cross to suffer and die.
2. He told His followers that He would leave them by Ascending back to the Father in glory.

B. But at the same time He gave them His Word and Promise.
1. Jesus said "You will see Me" The resurrection and the appearances of Jesus Christ are His promise that He would come to them again. For 40 days Jesus walked and talked and appeared to His disciples to assure them that He was truly alive, that His work on the cross was sufficient. That at the cross of Jesus Christ all of your sins are forgiven period!
2. Jesus said "Because I live, you will live also!" This promise of the resurrection is to all who believe in Christ. Your life with the Father for eternity is signed, sealed, and delivered by a Savior who has taken on death conquered. He took your pain, your sin, your misery and has exchanged it for His life.

C. Thus He comes to remove all pain and suffering caused by the fear of being alone. 1. He comes to live in us by faith. As He has so plainly said to us "On that day, you will realize that I am in My Father, and you are in Me, and I am in you" (v. 20) 2. He comes to shape and mold and uses us to a life of obedience to His perfect will.
3. He come to be the daily resurrection of grace for our lives and to give us such a wonderful promise that we will live in glory with Him. Recall His clear and certain words "Because I live you will live also!" (v.19)

Conclusion: These words of comfort were spoken by the lips of the Savior in at the Supper table in the upper room on Maundy Thursday, just hours before His passion was to begin. Soon, the events that led to Jesus' death on the cross would be put into motion, and the disciples would wonder if Jesus had in fact failed and abandoned them. But on Easter Sunday He came back to deliver on His promises and the disciples would know that He who was abandoned on the cross would, by the cross, never abandon them. By faith you have come to know that reality as well. The Spirit says so. The living Christ says so. His words of comfort and promises are for you this day! "I will not leave you desolate!"

Artwork by Ed Rojas © Higher Things

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