1. The Holy Spirit brings help
2. Jesus leaves his gift of peace
The love of Jesus Christ is truly amazing. Have you ever considered how encouraging it is as you find it in the 13th-17th chapters of St. John’s gospel? Those chapters are encouraging in their parts, of course: there are the words about Jesus the vine, we the branches; there the thoughts of his conquering this troubled world; there his promises to go and prepare a place for us and of his fiery Pentecost. But have you considered those chapters ever in their context? They’re beautiful, but they’re all words Jesus spoke as he looked hours ahead to his own horrid death by crucifixion. They’re words of comfort from the one who would soon be in deepest distress of soul, forsaken by his Heavenly Father, with no comfort to be had. In our sermon text this morning, Jesus is characteristically thinking not of himself but only of everyone else. He speaks with such great love so that when he was gone his disciples might not be discouraged.
Jesus’ comfort for disciples then or now is that the Holy Spirit would bring help. And he would come from the heavenly Father. You confess it in the creed each week: that the Holy Spirit “proceeds from the Father and the Son”. The significance of it is this: Jesus the Son of God goes away but the Triune God continues to be with Jesus’ disciples. At Jesus’ promise, the Father sends the Spirit at Pentecost and literally fires up those first disciples for ministry. And for disciples of any age, God’s Spirit is there, working among us in Jesus’ name. He brings Jesus work to his disciples again and again. As Jesus will later say, “[The Spirit] will not speak on his own authority, but will speak whatever he hears, and will tell you what is to come. He will glorify me, because he will receive from me what is mine and will tell it to you.” The Holy Spirit, God sent from the Father and the Son, keeps on bringing Jesus’ ministry to Jesus’ disciples even after Jesus is gone.
And he takes that ministry of Jesus and makes it disciples’ own. Jesus said, “[The Holy Spirit] will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” As Luke records in Acts, later on the Spirit would remind those disciples of the fulfillment of many of the things Jesus had said. Those same men, “carried along by the Holy Spirit, spoke from God” and wrote his own words for us so that we could be reminded and taught too. And so, for disciples today, his Scriptures are useful for teaching us who the holy God is, and who we are as sinners, and how salvation comes to us. Through his Word, the Spirit “thoroughly equips [us] for every good work.”1 In fact, to his disciples Jesus said that we need not even worry what to say when we face the unbelieving world because this Spirit speaks through us – give us his words to say.2 As he goes away, Jesus assures his disciples of every age that God continues to work to teach and remind us of what we need to know. He does it by the help his Holy Spirit brings.