The Lutheran Church of the Triune God

Pentecost Sunday                                                                                                       May 15, 2016

 

John 14:23-31                                     The Language of Peace

 

Dear fellow redeemed,

I'd like to read you something from Scripture you've never heard before.

             "Eρνην φημι μν, ερνην τν μν δδωμι μν·"

*         Well, actually you have heard that before.  In fact, you heard it just a moment ago. 

            It's the first part of today's text . . . in Greek.

*         So what would you think if a preached the entire sermon in Greek?

            Would you think I was nuts, a bit confused?   

*          I might claim as some do that I have the gift of speaking in tongues.  Of course, that would

            only elevate me as being more spiritual, and leave you among the have-nots.  

 

Language is not intended to divide or confuse. 

It's supposed to bring us together so that we may be at peace with each other and with God.

*          It's the only way we can understand Pentecost. 

            In our second reading, we read of devout men from every nation who came together.

             "Filled with the Holy Spirit (they) began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance."

*         At first they were confused.  "They were bewildered, because each one was hearing them speak in
            his own language."

           Imagine having the sudden ability to speak and understand a language you'd never studied before!

*         What did this mean?  This wasn't reason for alarm.  It was a reason to be at peace.

            The Holy Spirit and the saving message of the Gospel was intended for all nations!

            Every last one of them could believe that Jesus had redeemed them with his blood! 

*         It's what Pentecost has been about ever since.  God the Holy Spirit communicates through a

            common language, the Gospel; what he would have us know about God the Son and he gives

            us his peace.

 

It's also why the words of our text were written; not to create awe or envy, not to alarm or confuse.

They were recorded so that we might understand them and be at peace.

*         So let's hear those words again, this time in English.  "Peace I leave with you; my peace

            I give to you . . . Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid."           

*          Those sweet words of the Gospel we may call The Language of Peace; God's words intended

            for every sinner.

 

But are God's words always understood in this way?

*         That certainly was not the case with the disciples, not in the beginning.

            For some time now Jesus had taught them concerning his mission as the Son of God.

             "These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you" he tells them.

*         "While I'm still with you?"  Would the Lord leave them?  Where was Jesus going?

            What would this mean for them?

*         The disciples may have imagined Christ being victimized by some out-of-control mob.

            Or maybe he was moving on without them.  Would he now declare himself the king of the Jews?

*         Well, Jesus was getting ready for a departure.  But he wasn't leaving them. 

            He was equipping them.

            "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 I said to you." 

*         He would soon go to heaven.  

            And at first the disciples would be quite alarmed and confused.

            But then the Holy Spirit helped them remember and understand these words of Jesus:

             "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you."

*          Jesus wasn't leaving them in the truest sense of the word.

            It was only his bodily image that would leave them.

*         In place of his visible presence he would leave them his peace.

            And they'd have access to it in his Word.  Christ's message concerning the cross and his payment

            for sin would give them peace in every one of life's circumstances.!

 

So what about today? Is there still such a thing as a common Language of Peace?

*         I suppose some might say no.  We're not like the disciples, who may expect the Holy Spirit

            to teach us all things.  Will he breath into our minds his exact thoughts; supply us with a perfect

            understanding of Christ's teachings? 

*        Obviously not. Today there are no more apostles.

          But is that to say that The Language of Peace is a thing of the past?

            Is the peace which Jesus promised his disciples, out-of-date and obsolete?

*         Sometimes that's how we feel; that Christ's peace has vacated our life.

            In the office there's nothing but turmoil and conflict. 

            At home I'm receiving the silent treatment.

*          Or maybe there's no longer anyone at home.  I'm living alone now. 

            How can I be at peace, when I have no one with whom I may enjoy this peace?

*         Sometimes we may be just as convinced as the disciples that Jesus is leaving us.

            "I'm not feeling any peace.  My life is only experiencing confusion.

 

But nothing could be further from the truth. 

The only language that confuses and divides is the language of the world.

*         Recall the Tower of Babel. The people wanted to make a name for themselves.

            So they made plans to build a city "and a tower with its top in the heavens."

*         Having no desire to remember God and his Word, they desired only that they be remembered

            for all generations to come.

*         God's judgment was to confuse their languages, so they could no longer be one.

            Removing from them their one language, he gives them the language of confusion.

*         And to this day, this confusion continues to be the language of those choosing to be of the world.
            People are not interested in a language about our God who so loved the world.

          They don't want to hear about their Savior's peace.

            They want to hear about how I might be at peace with myself.

            I will make a name for myself. 

*         People know the world can never be one again, and that's why they seek to be one all

            by themselves.  Apparently it doesn't matter to them if they understand each other,

            for the language of confusion is the only language they've ever learned. 

 

We've all seen it.  People are into being individuals like never before. 

*         I can find peace if I just discover who I am; what makes me different.

            How can I make my little sector of the world a better place?  

            What can I do that no one else can do quite like me? 

*         No wonder church attendance has dropped so drastically in recent years. 

            People don't attend church as a family anymore.  

*         The only reason for going anywhere is if it's my thing.

            And what if it's not?  Monday through Saturday are all about me! 

            Why not Sunday mornings.

*         So it's Mom flying out of town for one of those person-enhancing seminars.

            Or it's Dad finally getting the chance for some outside time up north.

            Or it's Junior who's got to play at another basketball or hockey tournament.

*         We've all seen it.  We're not communicating, for it's all about me.

            Our language is not uniting us and giving us peace.

            It's only confusing us causing us to be divided.

 

This mindset unfortunately may even seep into the church and affect our beliefs.

*         We don't want a peace that stems from God becoming like me; taking on my human flesh.

            We want a peace that stems from me being me.

*         So what about owning up to what's most apparent about me; my sin?

*          According to the world, I don't have to, for peace comes not from recognizing your sin and

            having that sin taken care of.  It comes from recognizing how you can tweak your personal

            status, reshuffle the cards life has dealt you.

*         "I'm not at peace because I've been justified by the blood of my Savior.

            I'm at peace, because I know I'm indispensable.

            The church needs me because I'm better at this than anyone else."

*         Or "I'm at peace not because I know my God and Lord, who came down from heaven, was

            made man, was crucified, suffered, and rose again on the third day. 

*         I'm a peace, rather, because the Lord knows me. 

            He knows what's in my heart. He knows my private prayers. He knows my pious goals."

 

This isn't to say, by any means that God is not into individuals. 

*         Why he created each of us in the most unique manner imaginable!

            Each of you have your particular gifts.  No two people are the same.

*         However, if you're only an individual, there will be a very sad ending to your journey through life.

            And it will have nothing to do with peace. 

*         If you insist on making it through life on your own, you will also finish life on your own.

            Without God talking to you The Language of Peace you've got only yourself talking to you. 

*          I'll never forget the first time I saw someone talking on a cell phone in a shopping mall.

            I was convinced he was talking to himself and that he was lacking a few screws.

*         Fast forward to the present and the last time I was at the airport. Taking a look around me,
            about seventy-five percent of those waiting to get on board were glued to their cell phones.

*         We don't visit with strangers any more.  We hardly talk in person with anybody.

            We text and tweak and chat and play games with animated creatures.

*         "But I'm at peace, because I've got this world, which I can download and upgrade or put on mute!"

 

The world's peace which is centered on the self is only temporary. 

For it doesn't account for what sin does to this life and what happens next.

*         What happens when I can no longer make this world a better place?

            What happens when my name no longer means anything to anyone? 

            What happens when I no longer fit in, except with those at that assisted living facility?" 

*         When you know only the language of confusion, you're bound to lose your sense of peace. 

            What happens in the end is that you're alone, you're confused, you're troubled, and you're afraid.

 

The Language of Peace concerns a different kind of peace.

*         Christ's peace is eternal since it covers our sin, forever blotting it out from God's sight.

         Listen again to Jesus' promise. "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."

*         The peace Jesus refers to here, is the Christian's peace of conscience; the peace which knows

            no guilt or sorrow.  It's the peace that belongs the one who knows Christ and is happy in that

            knowledge.

*         "If you loved me, you would be glad that I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I."

          Jesus isn't saying that he's not fully God.  He's saying he's the God-man.  As a man he

            can place himself under his Father's authority and suffer as our substitute for our sin.

*         And as God, he can pay for our sin carrying out his Father's plan.

            That's why he'd go to the Father. Having completed his mission of suffering, dying, and rising again,

            he could now ascend into heaven where he forever rules as our Savior.

 

Jesus is in heaven sitting at the right hand of the Father. 

*         You know what that means?

            Assuming his position as God, he gets the last word.

*         So there's no longer any need for our hearts to be troubled.

            No matter what our troubles, we may trust what Christ's Word has to say.

*          We believe the words of John, that we may "set our hearts at rest . . . whenever our hearts

            condemn us, for God is greater than our hearts, and knows everything."

*          Yes.  He knows how we've failed to live up to the demands of his Law. 

            He knows how our life and family are suffering because of our stupid selfishness. 

            He knows how our faith has wavered because of silly fears and resentment.

*          But he also knows that Jesus took our place on the cross to earn our forgiveness.   

 

You think about it and God is into individuals more than anyone.

*         He's proven it by dying for our very personal sins.

            And he continues to prove it by talking to us individually in his Word.

*         "If anyone loves me" Jesus declares, "he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we

            will come to him and make our home with him."

*         It's The Language of Peace.  And there's nothing confusing about it. 

            As one who keeps Jesus' Word, even today you may be at peace, for God is no longer your angry

            judge who's set on condemning you because of your sin. 

            He's the God who's been reconciled to you through the blood of his Son.  

 

It's something you joke about. 

A certain somebody doesn't hold to the same opinion and you say, "he's confused!"

*         Underneath it all, however, you're thinking he's made a choice.

            And it was the wrong one. 

*         There are just two languages people learn on this earth; the language of confusion and the language

            of peace. The language of confusion is spoken by the self-righteous, those who choose to be confused,

            having rejected Christ's saving message known as the Gospel.

*         The Language of Peace is spoken by the humble, those who know they're sinners, but also that they're

            forgiven on account of the ransoming blood of Christ.

*         Thank God for his Word through which we're given real and lasting peace. 

            For his language is one we can understand.

*         Our God and Savior has made our home his home in order to save us from our sin. 

            And he will come to us again and make his home our home. Amen.

 

May the peace of God which passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.  Amen.