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Look Where the Light Is Shining

The Day of Pentecost

June 4, 2017

John 14:23-31

The problem is when we look for the Holy Spirit to work directly in our lives. The problem is when we seek a sign from the Holy Spirit that is not specifically promised in the Bible. The problem is when we do not look to where the Holy Spirit is pointing us to.

And so Jesus says in the Gospel reading, “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.” Jesus knows our weakness. He knows we’re prone to seeking help from God apart from the ways God has directed us to. So Jesus is specific when He says that the Father will send the Holy Spirit: “He [the Holy Spirit] will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.” Jesus ties the work of the Holy Spirit to the words of Jesus. All that Jesus said to the apostles.

The Holy Spirit, as we confess in the Catechism, enlightens us with His gifts. In the Collect for Pentecost we pray to God that “on this day You once taught the hearts of Your faithful people by sending them the light of Your Holy Spirit.” Jesus promises the Holy Spirit will come. And what will He do? He will enlighten His people. He will shine a light so that we will know where to look. He shines this light brightly because of the darkness of our sin.

The Tower of Babel in the Old Testament reading is a striking example of who we are if left to our own devices. The people considered their own wisdom and power and ability and thought they could see things in perfect clarity. Who was to prevent them from accomplishing anything they set their mind to? But they could not see clearly. They were in darkness and blinded by their sin.

What was so easy for them to accomplish in building a tower to heaven was quickly halted by a simple act of God. He confused their speech and suddenly they were very small in the sight of God. They couldn’t do anything. Can you imagine if downtown they were building a brand new building and none of the construction workers could understand each other? God shined a bright light on the peoples’ presumed wisdom and power. They were quickly scattered.

This light that God shines on our sinfulness is bright. It brings to light every thought and every desire and every intent in here [the heart] and up here [the mind]. If you have ever been caught doing something you shouldn’t be doing, you know what this is like. You are exposed. What you were trying to keep secret is now out in the open. Try reading through the Ten Commandments and see if you can make it through without seeing in yourself one who does not fear, love, and trust in God above all things. That’s what the bright light of the Law does. It shines on you and into you, exposing every sordid thought, word, and deed of your heart and mind.

This is why Jesus promised the Holy Spirit would come. He shines a light just as bright, but it overcomes the darkness of our sin and guilt. This light reveals to us the one thing we need to know when we have been exposed of our sin. The one thing is actually a person and the person is Jesus. The Holy Spirit shines as a bright spotlight on Jesus Christ. Look carefully at how Jesus made His promise of the coming of the Holy Spirit and the work of the Holy Spirit. It was not that the Holy Spirit would move you in certain ways or speak to you of new things. It rather was of bringing to your mind the very words of Jesus.

And so in speaking of the sending of the Holy Spirit and the work of the Holy Spirit, what does Jesus go on to say? He speaks of Himself: “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.” Jesus is on a collision course with His suffering and death on the cross. He is going away from His disciples and His going away is a going to the Father. But He says that it is cause for rejoicing. Because His going away, His suffering and death, is the true wisdom and power we need. It is not our work, it is completely the work of God.

Jesus builds no tower to heaven so that we can climb up the tower. Instead, He ascends Calvary and the cross so that we may ascend to heaven on the Last Day. The Holy Spirit will not point you to anything but that. The Light that shines will shine always on Christ and Him crucified. The Holy Spirit shines His spotlight on the Savior, not on Himself. Don’t look for the Holy Spirit, look to where He shines His spotlight. What happens if you look directly into the light of a spotlight? You are blinded and your eyes hurt. You can’t see anything because you’re looking at the wrong thing. You look where the spotlight directs your attention. That is the work of the Holy Spirit, to always shine the light on Christ.

In perfect fulfillment of what Jesus said in the Gospel reading, what happened on the Day of Pentecost? In the second reading today we saw it. It was the coming of the Holy Spirit as Jesus promised and He brought to the apostles’ mind all that Jesus had said to them. So what did those apostles do? They preached Christ and Him crucified. Spend a few minutes today reading the rest of Acts chapter 2 and see the proclamation of the Gospel on that Day of Pentecost. The proclamation was not of the Holy Spirit but of Christ and Him crucified. It really is quite a stunning sermon. The coming of the Holy Spirit was the Holy Spirit coming to do His work. The Holy Spirit was not on display, Christ was. The bright light was shining clearly on Jesus and what He did to accomplish salvation—His suffering, death, and resurrection.

The Holy Spirit continues His work in your life. He points you to your Baptism. Remember your Baptism every day. Being Baptized means you are in Christ. Being in Christ means you have the fullness of His salvation. You do not need to attempt to ascend to God, Jesus has descended to you and has united Himself to you. The Holy Spirit will continue to bring to your mind the words of Christ of His giving to you of His body and blood, Take and eat and Take and drink. His flesh and blood is given to you for the true power and strength you need. The Holy Spirit enlightens you so that you see this, so that you always see Christ. Amen.