"Jesus Establishes His Church" Sermon / John 14:23–31 / Pr. Ted A. Giese / Sunday June 9th 2019 / Pentecost Sunday / Mount Olive Lutheran Church
Mount Olive Lutheran Church / Pr. Ted A. Giese / Sunday June 9th 2019: Pentecost Sunday / John 14:23–31 "Jesus Establishes His Church."
Jesus answered [His disciple], “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word, and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him. Whoever does not love Me does not keep My words. And the word that you hear is not Mine but the Father's who sent Me.
“These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. 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. You heard Me say to you, ‘I am going away, and I will come to you.’ If you loved Me, you would have rejoiced, because I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. And now I have told you before it takes place, so that when it does take place you may believe. I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming. He has no claim on Me, but I do as the Father has commanded Me, so that the world may know that I love the Father. Rise, let us go from here.”
Let us pray: May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be acceptable in Your sight O Lord. Amen.
Grace peace and mercy to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Good Christian Friends. Jesus gives an answer at the beginning of our Gospel Reading for Pentecost Sunday, the day we are celebrating Confirmation this year, but what is the question?
First to refresh your memory the Gospel began like this, Jesus answered [His disciple], “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word, and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him. Whoever does not love Me does not keep My words. And the word that you hear is not Mine but the Father's who sent Me.” Ok what then was the question? “Judas (not [Judas] Iscariot [the betrayer, a different Judas who also was one of Jesus’ disciples]) said to [Jesus], “Lord, how is it that You will manifest Yourself to us, and not to the World?” You see Jesus had just told them that He would “not leave [them] as orphans;” He said to them, “I will come to you. Yet a little while and the World will see Me no more, but you will see Me. Because I live, you also will live. In that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you. Whoever has My commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him.”
For a little context this conversation between Jesus and His disciples is happening on the night when Jesus had instituted His Holy Supper, which we call The Last Supper, because it was the last supper Jesus ate with the disciples before He was betrayed by Judas in the garden, arrested and put on trial and crucified. So by this point the supper is ended and they are making their way to the Garden of Gethsemane. All Jesus’ talk about going away and them not seeing Him and then seeing Him again, and when they do see Him again then they will know that He truly is from the Father is about Jesus’ Good Friday death on the cross, His burial (Which is when they will not see Him – while He is buried in the tomb) and then His Easter Morning Resurrection from the dead. The forty days that follow that are the day when the World in general would not see Jesus but the disciples would see Him and others would too as St. Paul tells us, “Then [the risen Lord Jesus] appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles.” Jesus repeatedly set things up for His departure, His ascension and what would follow that day. Today’s Gospel reading again sets all of this up with the promise of the coming of “the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.” Ten Days after Jesus’ ascension God the Father sends the Holy Spirit to them as we heard read in our second reading today from Acts chapter 2.
From there the Church is established; and when the risen Lord Jesus with all authority given to Him by His Father says at His ascension to His disciples, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I Am with you always, to the end of the age,” a pattern of Church life starts to emerge Baptize, Teach, Commune, ten days later with the coming of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost these men are then driven to do what Jesus commanded them: build the Holy Christian and apostolic Church. The Church however would not be a Jewish Church only, although it would always have Jewish people in it. While Jewish people from all over the world, and gentile (None Jewish people from all over the world) may not all have had the same language they would have a shared common faith in Jesus. On the first day of the week, Sunday, they would gather together for Holy Communion and they would also gather together an offering for the good of the community and the work of the Lord. And whenever and wherever they gathered they heard God’s Word, read and preached to them, they would pray and sing “psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, [with each other] singing and making melody to the Lord with [their] heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,” essentially they did what we do now, as Christians have done, and will do until Jesus returns.
This is what blossomed at the Day of Pentecost, like a rose bud that opened to reveal the flower, so it was with the Church when the Holy Spirit came to them sent by the Father in Jesus’ name as Jesus had promised. And on that day over 3,000 were baptized in response to God’s Word. We today acknowledge the baptisms of 5 of our young people at Mount Olive Jacob, Kyra, Matthew, Avi, Kayleigh you get to confirm the vows made in your baptism for yourselves and in so doing you get to thank God for the gifts you received there in the waters of their baptism namely “the forgiveness of sins, rescues from death and the devil, and [the gift of] eternal salvation to all who believe this, as the words and promises of God declare.” All these things our catechumens will confess belong to them as a gift from God the Father in Jesus Christ by the working of the Holy Spirit because we believe teach and confess what? That we “cannot by [our] own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ, [our] Lord, or come to Him; but the Holy Spirit has called [each of us] by the Gospel, enlightened [us all] with His gifts, sanctified and kept me [and all Christians] in the true faith.”
Now in our Gospel reading Jesus says, “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.” He gives these things, (peace and courage) to us today by the Holy Spirit. This raises and interesting question. Do I need to be in church to receive the gifts Jesus has to give? Just Thursday night Pr. Albrect and I were talking to these five who are being confirmed and we mentioned to them that regardless of age if someone can’t come to church because of a medical illness or mobility issue of some kind it can be arranged for us to come to them with God’s Word and with Holy Communion, in such cases the church comes to them, but what about going to church if you are physically able to do so? Are there measurable benefits to weekly attendance? Is skipping church ok? Is it important for young people to be in church every Sunday? Remember we have three opportunities a month at Mount Olive outside Sunday to come to church too.
Here’s some information from November of 2018 published in the American Journal of Epidemiology about a study into the effects of a Religious Upbringing on the Health and Well-Being of young people from Adolescence to Young Adulthood: The paper says, “Empirical research suggests that religion is associated with better health and well-being in adults. For instance, there is a gradient relationship between frequent religious service attendance and lower mortality risk, even in the most rigorous studies. In other studies, religious involvement has also been linked to a wide range of other outcomes, such as greater psychological well-being, character strengths, reduced mental illness, and healthier behaviors.
To date, prior studies have mostly been conducted in adults. However, research has increasingly suggested that religion may confer lifecourse influences and that religion may have even more profound health effects at younger ages. Existing evidence in adolescents suggests that religious involvement may protect against certain behaviors and promote positive practices.
Compared with never attendance, at least weekly service attendance was subsequently associated with greater life satisfaction and positive affect, greater volunteering, greater sense of mission, more forgiveness, and lower probabilities of drug use and early sexual [activity]. It was also possibly associated with fewer depressive symptoms and lower probabilities of probable posttraumatic stress disorder, cigarette smoking, prescription drug misuse, history of [Sexually Transmitted Infections and diseases], and abnormal [gynecological examination] test results [in young women], …” now here’s the kicker, “In comparison, there was little difference between less than weekly and never attendance of services except for in the character outcomes.” So if you rarely come to church but are a Christian and had some Christian up bring you may have better character in general but you will miss out on much of the peace and courage and positive health effects of regular attendance … interesting stuff.
Apparently there are tangible benefits and gifts given by the Holy Spirit when we attend church, at the very least things would likely be worse off for you if you don’t attend regularly …“but pastor my life is fairly good and I’m not here every Sunday?” Well good for you I guess, but apparently you would have a very good chance of it being even better if you did attend weekly, regardless of what you might be going through even if you’re having a good or a hard time with life. I can tell you that there are some of our older members who are still with us because they make an effort to be here in the Divine Service: they know about the gifts given here.
What about Jesus did He go to church every Sunday? Well before His resurrection the day was not the first day of the week but the last day of the week and yes Jesus did go weekly, we hear this all over the Gospels but here in the Gospel of Luke chapter 4 we hear how, “as was His custom, [Jesus] went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day,” Jesus kept the third commandment, “You shall sanctify the holy day. [Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.]” And as we know from the small catechism this means “We should fear and love God so that we do not despise preaching and His Word, but hold it sacred and gladly hear and learn it.” Jesus did this without fault, teaching that, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. So the Son of Man is lord even of the Sabbath.” For us then after Jesus’ resurrection from the dead on that first Easter Sunday the Sabbath rest comes on Sunday and we rest in Jesus who is the Lord of the Sabbath, Sunday is the LORD’s Day. A day made for God the Father to give us rest and peace and blessings in His Son Jesus, where God serves you in your needs in body, mind and spirit.
The arrival of the Holy Spirit, revealed the Christian Church publicly to the World and this Church is the Body of Christ, His Bride. The Holy Spirit dwells in it and enlarges it; we, you, and I are all part of it. Today we welcome five new brothers and sisters to the Communion rail to receive Jesus’ Body and Blood for the forgiveness of their sins in with and under the bread and the wine. Today they will “taste and see that the LORD is Good,” and all of this is not of our doing it is a gift of God, given by Jesus at the Cross, given By God the Father in the sending of the Holy Spirit in the name of Jesus at the day of Pentecost and given to you in your baptism into Jesus; provided for you in the Church. Keep in the Church, ask for forgiveness for those times you have placed other things above God in your life and remember a branch will have no leaves and will bear no fruit and will dry up and wither if it is cut off from the tree. It’s as simple as that. Jesus says, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word, and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him.” As Jesus says about Himself, “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine [Jesus says]; you are the branches. Whoever abides in Me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from Me [Jesus says,] you can do nothing.”
All of this is given and accomplished by the Holy Spirit do not resist Him and His work in your life and if you have, when you do, repent and turn to Jesus for forgiveness, ask and you shall receive. Be encouraged; for all of you who strive toward the reception of God’s gifts here in this place, even if you are not striving hard as you could but want to do better, be encouraged: remember God loves you and wants you here ask Him for strength and confess with the Psalmist these words of peace and courage, “The LORD is my strength and my song; He has become my salvation.” Amen.
Let us pray:
Lord have mercy on us, Christ have mercy on us, Lord have mercy on us, “take our minds and think through them, take our lips and speak through them, take our hearts and set them on fire; for the sake of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, Amen.
 John 14:22
 1 Corinthians 15:6–7
 Matthew 28:19–20
 Acts 20:7, 1 Corinthians 16:2
 Ephesians 5:19–20
 Luther’s Small Catechism, Concordia Publishing House 2005, Pg 24.
 Ibid, Pg 17.
 1st Wednesday 7pm and 3rd Wednesday Morning 8am both with Holy Communion and the German Service 2pm Last Saturday of the month.
 Associations of Religious Upbringing With Subsequent Health and Well-Being From Adolescence to Young Adulthood: An Outcome-Wide Analysis
 Luke 4:16
 Mark 2:27–28
 Psalm 34:8
 John 15:4–5
 Psalm 118:14