Day of Pentecost
Day of Pentecost
Grace, Mercy and Peace to you from God our Father and His only Son, Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, Amen.
It is hard to know what ‘The Truth’ is these days. We are inundated with great amounts of information. We have access to this information, literally, at our fingertips. We hear or see News reports about every aspect of our world, our nation and our communities every day. If we wish, we can have live feeds pump this information directly into our ears and our eyes every second.
How often do we question the veracity of this information? Some people trust in the brand of the institution that is reporting the information. Others are constantly checking and researching the facts via friends, experts in the field and/or the internet. Yet even when one checks these ‘facts’ there can still be doubt. Websites exist that are solely dedicated to verifying what is truth and what is lie. Some people even give up trying to find the truth because the lies are too overwhelming.
The night in which Jesus was betrayed, he faced the Proconsul, or what we would today call the Governor, to bear witness to the truth. In chapter 18 of the Gospel of John, Jesus says, “Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.”
Pilate said to Him, “What is truth?” [John 18:37, 38a]
You see, the Pharisees had been claiming one truth while the disciples and followers of Jesus were proclaiming ‘The Truth’. The Pharisees even went as far as to attack Pilate’s loyalty to Rome.
“Pilate sought to release him, but the Jews cried out, ‘If you release this man, you are not Caesar’s friend. Everyone who makes himself a king opposes Caesar.’” [John 19:12]
If Pontius Pilate had twitter, he would probably be texting, “Don’t listen to ‘Sleepy Joseph’ Caiaphas. #Fake News”
Pilate was a man of authority. He was a soldier and member of the Roman nation. He was probably educated in philosophy better than most people were both from books and from experience. Truth, as he saw it, was ephemeral – short-lived at best. He may have been equally cynical about the concept of peace.
As a soldier and now a politician, Pilate had seen truth vanish faster than peace. If Christ had told Pilate he had come into the world to bring peace, Pilate might well have asked, “What is peace?”
After all, lies, deception and dishonesty have always been with us. Fear, conflict and hate have also known no end. These sins can be easily traced back to the first sin in the Garden of Eden. First, came deception, then came fear and then came murder. Throughout the ages of humankind, we have lied and murdered in fear and in quest for power over our fellow human beings.
We do it every day. We distrust our neighbors. We scheme in ways to get ahead or to come out on top. If this requires us to gossip and spread lies about our neighbor, then that is O.K., as long as we get what we want. If we speak the lie over and over again, people will eventually accept it as truth.
We sacrifice others so that we will not suffer. It is all about being number one. It is all about being in charge. If the truth does not get us what we want, then we speak the lie and call it the truth. We deceive ourselves saying, “I’m a good person. I’m going to heaven”, but the truth is not in us.
We are truly at war with each other, with sin, and with Satan. Peace? What is peace?
The truth is there was no conflict in the whole of creation before we fell from grace through our sin. As soon as we disobeyed the command of our perfect Creator in heaven, conflict began. The conflict between the righteousness of God and the sin of our making ended all peace on earth. We no longer know true peace because we no longer know life without sin.
God saw His creation rebel against Him. He destroyed the earth with a great flood in order to have peace. Those who began once more in a new creation, slipped back into their own selfish pride. “Let us ignore the will of God.” they said. “Let us make a name for ourselves. Let us build a monument to our glory instead of to God.” [Genesis 11:4]
In our sin, we warred against God and man. We continued to build up our own monuments in our sin. Some of us have some pretty good shrines to our wickedness. Some of us even boast about how great our sin has become. When our towers crumble and fall, we lie to ourselves and say it is not any fault of our own. We profess our innocence and blame… our neighbor. This breeds more hatred, more coveting and more sin. Our answer to this is not admission of our sin or repentance to not do it again, but to continue the lies.
If we keep taking, we convince ourselves, we will feel better. If we keep murdering, we will solve our problems. If we keep sinning, we will win. But we cannot keep digging deeper into the hole and expect to escape the darkness.
Most of us here have experienced war in our lifetimes. Some may have participated directly while spouses or children experienced it from the safety of their homes. This did not mean that those who were not in the front lines of battle lived peaceful lives. Directly or indirectly, everyone was affected. What is peace? It seems we may never see it in our lifetimes.
In the same way we have never experienced complete truth. Because of our sinful nature, even our truth is tainted with untruth. Why? Because we are tainted with sin. It is the darkness of the world that can only be overcome by the truth in Christ Jesus. It is because of our human nature that a man named Pilate could not fathom the truth of Jesus Christ even as saw him face to face.
God saw His creation dying in their sin and said, “What shall I do? I will send my beloved son. Probably they will respect him when they see him.” [Luke 20:13] God’s only Son, Jesus Christ, came into our world, born flesh of our flesh through the Holy Spirit by the Virgin Mary. He lived as God willed us to live, in perfect righteousness.
However, being so long without truth and peace, we did the only thing we knew; we murdered our Savior in our sin. We believed killing the Son would give us title to his throne in heaven. We believed in lies instead of truth.
Under any rule by a king in his kingdom, such an act would mean total annihilation. Such an offense of murdering the only son and heir to the throne would mean certain death. Yet this was not just any kingdom, it was the kingdom of heaven, and this was not any heir to any throne, but the Prince of Peace and heir to the throne of God!
We thought we killed the son of man but instead the Son of God rose from the grave conquering death, vanquishing sin and banishing Satan forever from His holy realm. The war is over and the battle is done.
The truth of Jesus Christ has brought us peace. This is not peace as the world gives, but the true and complete peace of our redemption to be heirs of the kingdom of God.
Jesus told his disciples while he was with them that, “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.” [John 14:23] He made them another promise that day. He spoke of the ‘Counselor, the Holy Spirit,’ whom the Father will send in his name, to remind us of this promise of peace and of life. [John 14:26]
On that Pentecost day, while they were all gathered in one place, the Holy Spirit and Counselor came from heaven like a mighty rushing wind, filling the entire house where they were sitting and this Holy Spirit did teach the multitude of devout men from every nation under heaven. [Acts 2:1-5]
We celebrate that gift of the Holy Spirit today. Do we now know all truth? Do we now know complete peace? No. Conflict still ravages this good earth. Sin still rules hearts and minds in this world. Yes, we are not yet free to live completely in the presence of our Holy Father won for us by the sacrifice of Christ Jesus, but we do have the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit now dwells in us. This is the peace Jesus Christ leaves with us while we suffer the slings and arrows of the Evil One. This peace is not of this world but of the world to come. As Christ exhorts, “Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” [John 14:27b]
Our Savior reminds us through our baptism, through his body and blood and through his Word that he is coming back to you! He has told us before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe. [John 14:29]
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” [John 14:27]
We can enjoy this little bit of heaven that is ours through the Holy Spirit and Comforter. We can live in the peace he has given us. The Prince of Lies runs the world and will continue to sow conflict in our hearts but he has no hold on the crucified and risen Savior, Jesus Christ, and therefore no hold on you.
Our minds may get confused by the language of all the earth, but the promise of our Lord is clear and without mistake: “I will give you the Spirit of truth to be with you forever. You know him for he lives with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.” [John 14:16-18]
This is not a lie – this is ‘The Truth’. This is not ‘Fake News’ – this is ‘The Good News’ of our salvation through Jesus Christ. This is not hate – this is peace.
In Peace let us pray to the Lord, “Come, Lord Jesus!” Amen.