Easter 7—Exaudi (Jn 15, 26—16, 4)

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“I did not say these things to you from the beginning, because I was with you.”

᛭ INI ᛭

Alleluia! Jesus Christ is risen!
He is risen indeed! Alleluia!

When Jesus says what He says today, He’s anticipating the time we’re in right now. He’s talking about the time when He’s no longer with us. He’s talking about the time after His ascension. He’s also talking about next week, too. When we’ll celebrate Pentecost. The day when He sent the Holy Spirit, “the Comforter, the Spirit of Truth, whom He sent from the Father.”

Ascension was last Thursday. The day when the Christian Church on earth gathers to celebrate when our Lord ascended into heaven. He did that 40 days after Easter, and last Thursday was 40 days after Easter. The most recent Lutheran Witness was super helpful in teaching about how important and special Ascension Day is.

When it comes to our Gospel reading today, Jesus tells us why He must ascend. It of course has to do with the coming of the Holy Spirit. That’s what Jesus says. Today He said, “When Comforter comes, whom I will send to you from the Father.” Jesus continues this idea a little later in John 16 when He says, “It is to your advantage that I go away. For if I do not go away, the Comforter will not come to you. But when I go away, I will send Him to you.”

The most specific reason Jesus goes away, ascends, has to do with Him sending the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. But we can also look at Jesus’ departure, His going away, in a broader way. The sending of the Spirit is part of that, but it’s not the only reason. Ezekiel and Peter have something to do with this, too. Anyway, the reason for Jesus going away is simple:

JESUS HAS DEPARTED TO KEEP ALL HIS PROMISES TO US.

(I. Jesus is trustworthy.)

What does it mean to be trustworthy? More importantly what makes Jesus worthy of your trust, worship, and devotion? It doesn’t just mean to tell the truth all the time. It means to keep promises. A trustworthy person is someone who does something that they say they’re going to do. Jesus is trustworthy for both reasons. He always speaks the truth, and He always does what He says He’s going to do.

Jesus does what He says He would do. He gets handed over to the religious leaders. They hand Him over to Pontius Pilate. He is treated terribly. He’s beaten, mocked, spit upon. He’s flogged. He suffers. He is crucified under Pontius Pilate. He dies. Jesus says these things would happen, and they did, just like He said.

His promises didn’t end at calvary. The point was for Him to be on that cross, but the other thing He promised was for Him not to stay dead or in the tomb. He says, “I will rise,” and so He rises on the third day “according to the Scriptures.”

(Transition.)

The Lord Jesus is worthy of your trust, worship, and devotion because He does what He says and says what He’s going to do. They always line up. But there’s even more, and that’s what we’re considering today:

JESUS HAS DEPARTED TO KEEP ALL HIS PROMISES TO US.

Part of that means He ascends into heaven according to His promise.

(II. He keeps His Ascension promise.)

Jesus’ ascension into heaven was foreshadowed in the Old Testament. The first type or shadow or echo of Jesus’ Ascension was Enoch. “Enoch walked with God and was no more because God took him.” The biggest foreshadowing was, and this was our Old Testament reading on Thursday—the biggest foreshadowing was Elijah being taken up into heaven by a whirlwind. Jesus is, in a sense, the greater and final Elijah when it comes to His Ascension.

But it’s not just a matter of what the Old Testament Scriptures promise or predict or foreshadow about Jesus’ Ascension. Jesus Himself promised it. It’s what He’s hinting about when He says, “I did not say these things to you from the beginning, because I was with you.” But it’s also what Jesus means when He says elsewhere in John, “I am going to Him who sent Me.” Jesus also says that they will see “The Son of Man ascend where He was before.” (Jn 6:52)

And Jesus is trustworthy. He accomplished it. Luke tells us: “He led them out as far as Bethany, and lifting up his hands he blessed them. While he blessed them, he parted from them and was carried up into heaven.” (Lk 24) “As they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight.” (Acts 1)

(Transition.)

You see, there’s no reason to doubt Jesus like we do. There’s no reason to question Him, though we do. He’s trustworthy. He says what He’s going to do and then He does. He keeps His promises. He promised to Ascend, and so He departs in order to keep that promise.

JESUS HAS DEPARTED TO KEEP ALL HIS PROMISES TO US.

But it’s not just promises leading up to His Ascension. Jesus also keeps His post-Ascension promises, too.

(III. He keeps His post-Ascension promises.)

He kept the promise that He’s talking about today. “When the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me.” We’ll hear more about it next week, but He did keep this promise. He really did send the Spirit at Pentecost.

But this promise of the Spirit isn’t just for that first post-Easter Pentecost. It’s a promise to you and me, too. Because when Jesus speaks to His disciples, He’s also talking to us. He promises the Spirit to you and to me. He delivers that Spirit to all of us in Holy Baptism. Peter says, “Be baptized in [ἐπί] Jesus’ name,” that is according to His command, “and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”

The Spirit does what Jesus promises, too! “He will bear witness about Me.” That is He will bring Jesus to you and you to Jesus, and what that exactly looks like is described in Ezekiel 36 today. The Spirit accomplishes Jesus’ work among us. “I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put my Spirit within you, and I will make you walk in my statutes and you will guard my judgments and do them.”

Jesus and the Spirit work all things out for you and through you. You are cleansed, forgiven, from all your uncleannesses, all your sins. Jesus shed His blood for you. You are baptized. You have the Holy Spirit, who continually recreates a clean heart within you through His Word. This is the main reason why this new congregation at prayer is so important! The Spirit will work faith and love within your hearts. This is the benefit of Jesus’ Supper too. There Jesus’ body and blood deliver the forgiveness, and with that the Spirit strengthens faith within you. He also enlivens your love. Peter says, “keep loving one another” fervently. Sounds nice. We ask the Father to do that from the Supper.

Jesus ascends also so that He can keep the promise laid out in our Introit, from which we get the name for this Sunday: “Exaudi,” or “Listen.” Jesus ascends to rule over the universe so you don’t have to worry about finding Him in some remote spot of Israel, or fitting in to His busy schedule. Now He, along with His Father, have the power and authority to have all the time in the universe to listen to your prayers and answer them, on top of using that power to deliver Himself, the Holy Spirit, the forgiveness of sins wherever and whenever the Gospel is preached and the Sacraments are handed out just like Jesus wants.

(Conclusion.)

JESUS HAS DEPARTED TO KEEP ALL HIS PROMISES TO US.

That not only means He ascends according to His promise but that He keeps all His promises. He dies and rises. He sends the Spirit. He baptizes you. He forgives you. He feeds you with His body and blood.

᛭ INI ᛭

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