Updated: May 31
St. John 14:23-31
Jesus answered him, “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.
Saved. That word is in our Old Testament lesson.
People are saved…from drowning. After catastrophic flooding last week in Michigan, one of our ELS pastors and his wife were saved when a boat came and brought them out of their flooded house to dry ground. The boat came because, presumably, they were able to get word out that they were in need, and someone with the means to help them was able to do so. This pastor and his wife were able to call upon someone who could help them, and they were saved.
That word is used in our Old Testament lesson because, as you know, all people are in need of being saved from sin. The LORD used that word saved in what He said through the prophet because people were eager to hear it. They knew their great need.
It isn’t a good thing when Jesus tells his disciples in our text, the ruler of this world is coming. He’s talking about the one who threatens your eternal well-being. The one who tempts you to do things that distance you from your Creator is the one he’s talking about, the one whose desire it is to see you separated from God, and punished eternally. The devil is the one Jesus calls the ruler of this world. When, in the Collect we’re praying for a right judgment in all things, we’re praying to be protected from the ruler of this world. We’re praying to be protected from that one’s false teaching that comes to us from all angles, and to be brought to true understanding from God Himself.
Each of us knows in a way that’s very specific to ourselves, of our need to be saved. You have a number of things that you think about when you think of needing to be saved from sin. You think about the things you’ve done that make you feel guilty. They aren’t the same things, necessarily, that the socially-distanced person at least six feet from you thinks about. They are the things you think about. They’re what you talk to the Lord about (or maybe have been uncomfortable about even bringing up to Him). Saved from those things is what we’re talking about by saved.
You know the Lord. But in terms of the way these things work; knowing your need of being saved, you want to know, who is it that you can call upon in this need of being saved? Who is able to help you with this problem of unclean hands that no amount sanitizer can make so? Who is it, who will not ignore you, or turn you away?
Well, our Old Testament lesson answers that too. Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved. So a person need just call on the Lord’s name to be saved. Good. Problem solved.
But then, St. Paul brings up an important point: How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed (Romans 10:14)? Calling on Him is critical. Believing is critical in this whole thing, too. The drowning person who doesn’t believe anyone can help, or who doesn’t call upon anyone - not knowing who it is that can help, drowns. This important issue of believing was in our text last week: Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned (Mark 16:16). Believing is an important part of the most famous Gospel passage we know, too, isn’t it? “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16).
You know you need saving. You know that in order to be saved a person need only call on the name of the Lord (our Old Testament lesson says that). You know that calling on the Lord’s name requires believing that it would be worthwhile to do so.
St. Paul with another pertinent question: And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard (Romans 10:14)? Pentecost is the answer to that question.
This high festival Sunday of Pentecost is the day on which we celebrate that we have the ability to call on the name of the Lord and be saved. We celebrate that through the Holy Spirit’s work, we were enabled to know we needed saving, and to know and believe that calling on the Lord’s name saves us. We could say Pentecost is the answer to how the hearing and the believing happen.
Jesus had told His disciples in our text, that He was sending the Helper, the Holy Spirit to teach them and to remind them of the things He had told them. Those words have great meaning when we consider the events of the particular observance of the Festival of Pentecost that is described in our epistle lesson.
Pentecost was a long-standing harvest festival among the Jews. That’s why devout men from every nation under heaven were in Jerusalem, as said in our epistle lesson. Along with them, of course, were the disciples (Jesus’ learners or followers) who would soon be known as “apostles" (those who are sent).
A sound like a mighty rushing wind filled the house where the disciples were gathered. Divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance. Those are the details of what happened when the Holy Spirit came upon the disciples on that Pentecost, according to Jesus’ prediction.
It’s important that we recognize the result of all of it. It wasn’t a magic show; it had a purpose. Its purpose can be ascertained from what the devout men from every nation under heaven said in response to what they were hearing and seeing. They said, as recorded in our epistle lesson: we hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God.”
They had come from Mesopotamia, and from Judea and Cappadocia, and from Pontus and Asia, and many other places. Different languages were spoken by these people from all these different places. And as the disciples were preaching the things the Holy Spirit had taught them, Jesus’ words of which He had reminded them, all of these people were hearing the message that causes a person to believe in order to be saved.
You know you need saving. You know that in order to be saved a person need only call on the name of the Lord. You know that calling on the name of the Lord requires believing. The Holy Spirit works through the message of salvation in Christ - the Righteous One Who died for sinners, and through the Sacrament of Baptism to bring about this believing.
Here you are on this Pentecost more than two-thousand years later, devout men, women, and children from Port St. Lucie, hearing and believing the same message. It is preached at the directing of the same Holy Spirit.
Jesus talks about the Father in the beginning of our text. Father should comfort you. To think of God as your Father should indicate that He wants the best for you. This perfect father protects and provides. He encourages and uplifts, and restores. Human fathers fail to be all of these things; but God would have you picture Him this way as your heavenly Father.
So, you can see why it is quite natural to think of calling on the name of that Lord. You call on Him because you trust Him. You know Him. You recognize that He cares for you. You identify Him as the one who can help you. You call on Him as the one who saves you. You do so because He has created this desire in you through the work of the Holy Spirit. You call on Him as the One Who has provided forgiveness for your sins through the sinless One’s sacrifice. You have been made able to call upon someone who can help you, the one who mercifully draws you to Himself.
He draws you to His Table this morning to receive Him among the fellowship of the believers. All of you have been drawn through the Holy Spirit’s ministry of truth. You receive the Righteous One upon Whom this world’s ruler has no claim. You receive the One in Whom you have forgiveness. You receive the One in Whom your hope of salvation is secure, the One about Whom the Pentecost hymn says:
When we on that final journey go
That Christ is for us preparing,
We’ll gather in song, our hearts aglow,
All joy of the heavens sharing,
And walk in the light of God’s own place,
With angels His name adoring.
Go in Christ’s otherworldly peace this morning. Go uplifted, rejoicing. Go as those who, having received God’s mercy for yourselves, are anxious to share it with others. Amen.
Collect of the Day
O God, You taught the hearts of Your faithful people by sending to them the light of Your Holy Spirit [gos: 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. /ep: “…we hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God.” /ot: everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.]: Grant us by that same Spirit to have a right judgment in all things and evermore to rejoice in His holy comfort; through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who with You and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one true God, now and forever. Amen.
“And it shall come to pass afterward,
that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh;
your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
your old men shall dream dreams,
and your young men shall see visions.
Even on the male and female servants
in those days I will pour out my Spirit.
“And I will show wonders in the heavens and on the earth, blood and fire and columns of smoke. The sun shall be turned to darkness, and the moon to blood, before the great and awesome day of the Lord comes. And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved. For in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be those who escape, as the Lord has said, and among the survivors shall be those whom the Lord calls.
When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.
Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven. And at this sound the multitude came together, and they were bewildered, because each one was hearing them speak in his own language. And they were amazed and astonished, saying, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each of us in his own native language? Parthians and Medes and Elamites and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabians—we hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God.” And all were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” But others mocking said, “They are filled with new wine.”