Holy Spirit
  • The Feast of Pentecost, by Pastor Edward Brockwell

    The Feast of Pentecost

    John 14:15-21

    "In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit" (Matthew 28:19b).

    15. If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.

    16. And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Comforter, to be with you forever.

    These are words of our Lord Jesus Christ who was about to depart from His disciples and so He bids them farewell. Frankly, I don't like goodbyes with loved ones and friends, and I think that the disciples felt the same way. But the Lord offered His disciples good news of comfort and peace. He exhorted them not to be frightened and saddened by His departure. It was as if He were saying to them, "I must now go from your sight. Therefore I tell you this as My farewell and Godspeed. But You must not become afraid and fearful; but believe in Me, and take to heart what I am telling you. For I will not leave you without comfort and help, even though you find no comfort and help in the world. Yes, I am going to the Father for this very reason, to assume My power and My reign and then to manifest these in you. And though I depart from you physically, I shall send you another Comforter from the Father. He will always remain with you, for I know that you cannot abide in [this sad and fallen] world without a Comforter."[1]

    "Until now I, through My bodily presence, have been your Comforter. You have taken delight in Me and have felt secure and fearless, and you would like to remain with Me. But now that you hear that you are about to lose this comfort, you are cast down and troubled. Yet My departure shall not harm you. Just remain My disciples and hold to Me, and I will compensate you richly for the loss. For I Myself will ask the Father to grant you the Comforter, who will stay with you forever; and neither the world nor the devil will deprive you of Him, no matter how they rant and rave. He will strengthen you and make you courageous and bold, far better than I can now do by My physical presence. Moreover, He is wiser and more learned than all the world. Therefore you will not lack for comfort, strength, courage, and wisdom."

    That is the comfort!!![2]  These very words of our Lord, words that are full of living power (Hebrews 4:12), words that have and give life (Proverbs 4:22; John 6:63), the very words of our Lord are given to you and to me this very moment in the proclamation of the Word! All that you have just heard concerning the disciples, the Lord will do and is doing for you and for me. The very same Jesus who spoke to His disciples, who at first could only look upon Jesus and his departure through eyes of tears and sorrow, He is the very same Jesus speaking words of comfort to us today!

    We have the Comforter, the Counselor, the Holy Spirit whom Jesus had promised. The Holy Spirit is our Counselor, because that’s what he does and is supposed to do. He is not just some divine force or power, but a very real person of the Holy Trinity. The Holy Ghost is of the Father and of the Son; neither made, nor created, nor begotten; but proceeding from them. He is coequal and coeternal with Father and the Son. In our text, Jesus indicates here that the Spirit is a distinct person—the Holy Spirit is neither the Father nor the Son, yet He is one in essence with the Father and the Son. But for now, let us know and consider that He is a Divine person and that He is our counselor.

    The word counselor shows us how we should think of the Holy Spirit. As Luther so rightly put it, "A counselor is not a lawgiver or someone like Moses, who frightens us with the devil, death, and hell. No, a counselor fills a troubled heart with joy toward God. A counselor encourages us to be happy that our sins have been forgiven, death has been conquered, heaven has been opened, and God is smiling upon us. Whoever understands what it means for the Spirit to be our Counselor will have already won the battle. That person will find nothing but pure comfort and joy in heaven and on earth, because the Father is the one who sends him to help us, and because Christ is the one who asks him to do so. This sending flows from a fatherly heart-felt love. So Christians should remind themselves of this name for the Holy Spirit. He is a counselor, and we are the troubled and timid ones whom he helps."[3]

    In the verses leading up to our text, Jesus made great promises to the disciples concerning their faith. "Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father. And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son." (John 14:12-13). If these were not great enough, there is yet a far greater promise, namely the Holy Spirit. But notice that our Lord firmly states, “He who believes in Me." "If you love me, my precepts will you guard," says our Lord. Love is always the fruit of faith, it is not something we create in our hearts. He who does not trust cannot possibly love. Jesus was speaking to believers! He showed them that if they truly believe, their faith will be reflected in love, a love that the Bible defines as an agape love, namely love that is from God and is unconditional in how we love God and one another! This love is selfless; it gives and expects nothing in return. Again, to have such a love, God’s love actively working in us, we need to have faith, true faith, and not something that we create in our minds. "… Faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ" (Romans 10:17). Faith is the gift of God.  It is the work of the Holy Spirit. "For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God" (Ephesians 2:8). "I believe that I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ, my Lord, or come to Him; but the Holy Ghost has called me by the Gospel…" (Luther’s Small Catechism, Art. III.) Such faith will love God above all things, and delight in keeping His commandments, which all find their " fulfillment of the law" (Romans 13:10).

    And it is in God's Word you will find the Counselor, the promised gift of God Himself, the third real and living person of the Trinity counseling and comforting your heart in every need. He dwells within you, not around you, but in you through the Word. He will assure you that you are not left in this world as “orphans.” Because of the work and presence of the Holy Spirit we hear His words spoken to the disciples, and therefore now unto us, “… Because I live, you will live also. At that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you. He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him." (vss. 19-21).

    Oh, dear friends in Christ, God fashions His love in us, enabling us to demonstrate such faith-produced love in keeping His commandments, which become to us in ways of “faith expressing itself in love.” Moreover, we are loved by our heavenly Father, and by our Lord Jesus, who will manifest Himself to us and in us!!! And yes, the world, the devil and our sinful nature will throw many things at us simply because we have such faith. But the promised Comforter, our dear and abiding Counselor, is in us through the means of God’s Word. He will stay with you forever. He will not let the devil, the world or anything deprive you of God and His presence and work in your life. No matter what happens in your life, in every moment He will strengthen you and make you courageous and bold. He will do this, and even more than He did when He was only present with His Disciples. Through the Spirit, God is at work in all believers. Therefore you will not lack for comfort, strength, courage, and wisdom. We lift up our heads and hearts and pray daily that God would pour out His Holy Spirit upon us, upon this world. Our hearts sing with such words of faith and love:

    Come, Holy Ghost, God and Lord!
    Be all Thy graces now out poured
    On each believer's mind and heart;
    Thy fervent love to them impart.
    Lord, by the brightness of Thy light,
    Thou in the faith dost men unite
    Of every land and every tongue;
    This to Thy praise, O Lord, our God, be sung.
    Hallelujah! Hallelujah! (Martin Luther)


    [1] Luther, M. (1999). Luther's works, vol. 24: Sermons on the Gospel of St. John: Chapters 14-16 (J. J. Pelikan, H. C. Oswald & H. T. Lehmann, Ed.) (Jn 14:16). Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House.

    [2] Luther, M. (1999). Luther's works, vol. 24: Sermons on the Gospel of St. John: Chapters 14-16 (J. J. Pelikan, H. C. Oswald & H. T. Lehmann, Ed.) (Jn 14:15–16). Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House.

    [3] Luther, Martin; Galvin, James C. (2009-05-26). Faith Alone: A Daily Devotional (p. 228). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.