Printable PDF: 5-31-2020 Pentecost Sermon
Vicar Lindemann ~ Pentecost ~ May 31, 2020 ~ John 16:5-11
Everyone needs a helper
5But now I am going to him who sent me. None of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’ 6Rather, you are filled with grief because I have said these things. 7But very truly I tell you, it is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. 8When he comes, he will prove the world to be in the wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment: 9about sin, because people do not believe in me; 10about righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer; 11and about judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned.
– John 16:5-11
When I have a problem, I feel a lot better about it if I know that there’s someone there to help me. If the laces would snap on my baseball glove during a game, I knew that my coach would help me fix it. When I misplace my headphones at home, if I ask my wife nicely she helps me find them instantly. I don’t even worry if my car breaks down, because I know that Pastor Clark knows a guy to help me get a new one. Do you have someone that you go to when you need some help? Everyone needs a helper. No matter where you are in life, whether you need help reaching something on the top shelf, need help with some life advice or need help from that person who always says just what you need to hear. Everyone needs a helper. You may not have a helper for everything you wish you did, but we all have one helper in common. On this Pentecost and Confirmation Sunday, we pay special attention to the one who helps us in our every need, the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit comes to you, and the Holy Spirit teaches you.
- The Holy Spirit comes to you. (verses 5-7)
It was Maundy Thursday evening, the day before Jesus was crucified, and the disciples were scared because Jesus told them that he was leaving soon. Imagine visibly getting to see Jesus, but he tells you he’s about to leave. But Jesus was surprisingly excited for them that he was leaving! He was excited because he knew that after he left, the Advocate would come to them. This title for the Holy Spirit helps us understand why Jesus was so excited to send him. This title in Greek is a word of which you may have heard, Paraclete. It means our legal counselor, the one who speaks in our defense. But nobody uses the word Paraclete, so you can think of the Holy Spirit as an Advocate, as it says here. He is the one who supports and defends you. But my favorite word to use instead of Paraclete is the Helper, with a capitol H. Calling the Holy Spirit the Helper is such an understatement, but it really captures what he does for us. Think of Jesus’ words again with the word “Helper” and see why Jesus is so excited to send him. “It is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I go, I will send the Helper to you.”
The disciples really needed a good helper. They had a hard road ahead of them. Jesus told them that the world was going to treat them badly. He warned them that after he was crucified that the world would attack them because they followed Jesus. They were going to have their lives threatened because of Jesus. Anxiety from Jesus’ warnings filled their minds and grief filled their hearts. They felt helpless. When you have anxiety like that, you need more than advice. When you have grief like that, you need more than words. You need a helper. Everyone needs a helper.
The Holy Spirit is THE Helper. He did come to help the disciples. He came to them because the disciples could not come to the Holy Spirit and neither can any one of us. No one can come to God; he needs to come to us. We can’t find God as we navigate through anxiety, grief, and sin. The disciples were helpless, but God the Holy Spirit helped them. He came into their hearts to remove their grief and fill their hearts with the Word of God. Those disciples who spread the news about Jesus did nothing on their own. They had the Helper. The Holy Spirit worked through the words of Jesus to help the disciples. The Helper gave them the strength they needed.
Could you use a helper? I’m sure you could make good use of a helper with a strong back who could move your furniture or do your yard work. But what about a helper for your mind, your heart, and your life? What about a helper for you confirmands? Are you ready to swear to God that you will continue firmly in this teaching and endure all things rather than fall away from it? Not only for you new confirmands, but could you potential confirmands use a helper? Does it seem crazy to put the amount of work into studying the Bible that these students did to make it here? Or do you not even view yourself as a potential confirmand because you don’t think it’s for you? Not only for you new and potential confirmands, but could you seasoned confirmands use a helper? Or have you become a master on your own of conforming all your life to the teachings of God’s Word? Could you use a helper?
These stages in life all have the potential to fill our hearts with the same uncertainties the disciples had. When your mind is filled with anxiety for the future or depression of the present fills your heart with grief, what can a helper really do for you? No one you can find can make you strong, coach you through your whole life, and also take away your anxiety.
You can’t find a helper like that. But in his mercy, the Helper comes to you. You can’t reach out to find the Holy Spirit, but the Holy Spirit comes to you through the means of Grace. He doesn’t come to you through tongues of fire and foreign languages. He comes to you through simple words of Scripture to give you direction. He comes to you through water in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit in Holy Baptism. He comes to strengthen you through the bread and wine and body and blood of the Lord’s Supper.
And through those ways, those means of grace, the Holy Spirit daily and fully forgives all sins to you and all believers. He strengthens your faith to hold onto Jesus firmly and endure anything rather than fall away. The Helper helps you learn the truths of the Bible. The Helper defends you from the words of the devil trying to keep you away from church. The Holy Spirit sanctifies and sets apart your life to live according to God’s Word. The Helper works in your heart and forgives all your sins.
Everyone needs a helper. Jesus has not left you without one. The Holy Spirit is your helper, and he comes to you. The Holy Spirit works through the Word to give you faith in Jesus who takes away your sins. He also teaches you. The Helper gives you direction for your life. He teaches you how to navigate through this dark world by the light of his Word.
- The Holy Spirit teaches you. (verses 8-11)
“When the Helper comes, he will prove the world to be in the wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment.” The Helper has his work cut out for him. The world has a lot to say about sin and righteousness and judgment, or maybe you’re more familiar with the words the world uses: what’s right and wrong. The world has a lot to say about what’s right and wrong. The world says that people express their love for each other ultimately through intimate relationships. If it’s done in the name of love, it’s right. The world says that you have to be crazy to follow the out-dated morality of the Bible. The Bible is old-fashioned and wrong. The world says no one can judge me, I’m in charge of myself. The world says believe in Jesus, you know that’s a myth, right? How badly we need the Helper to help our faith in a world that doesn’t love God.
That’s what the Holy Spirit does. He teaches us about what God says. The things he teaches us proves the world to be in the wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment. The Helper teaches us the right way to express our love, to love our neighbor as ourselves, and to reserve for marriage that intimate relationship. The Helper gives us his guidance to apply the truths we learn from the Bible, the principles of the Bible to real world scenarios. The Helper makes us see that God judges sin and those who stand on the side of the world are condemned to hell. The Helper strengthens us to stand on the side of Jesus and heaven. The Holy Spirit strengthens your faith so that you can believe in Jesus as your Savior.
The Holy Spirit will help you with that now and forever. As you confess your faith and your promise to hold firmly to the Word of God and to this church, you don’t make that promise on your own. You answer, “Yes, and I ask God to help me.” You have the best Helper to help you. The Holy Spirit has come to you through his Word and through your Baptism. He is here to help you now. Stay in his Word and he will continue to be there for you and help your mind, your heart, and your life. He will do that forever. No matter if you are confirmed today, years ago, or in the future, he will continue to help you and your faith all the way to the end. And beyond the end. He will be faithful to you as you faithfully study his Word. He will help you home to heaven. He will continue to be your Helper forever.
Jesus has sent you the Helper. The Holy Spirit comes to you through God’s Word and in the Sacraments. The Helper strengthens faith in your heart. He continues to strengthen your faith when he teaches you. He teaches you the Word of God. Live in God’s Word and trust the Holy Spirit to guide you and guard you and help you through this life. Stay connected to him. He will help you; that’s his name. Everyone needs a helper, and you have THE Helper.