John 14:23-31: If anyone loves Me, he will keep My Word

If Anyone Loves MeThe word “Pentecost” means 50.  A festival of the Old Covenant, at first, a celebration which took place every year.  Now we understand why so many pilgrims gathered in Jerusalem on the day the potent Wind from eternity graced the people of God.

For the Israelites, Pentecost thanked the Creator for the first harvest of wheat.  The day also recalled Yahweh delivering His words on Mount Sinai, making the Jews into God’s chosen people.  For the Father formed them as His people by giving them His words.  So much to celebrate on this day, which took place 50 days after Passover.

At Sinai, the One who freed His people decreed His Covenant through the words He gave to Moses.  Recorded in Exodus 20, “God spoke all these words, ‘I am Yahweh, your God, who rescued you out of the land of Egypt, from a place of slavery.’”

The Church begins and thrives by God’s doing.  Now, we can understand why God’s first Word is always what He does for His people to make them His own.  Only after, do the words not to trust in other gods, not to misuse His name, and others follow.

So, on the day, which celebrates the Almighty turning a group into His people, He decides to do something new.  For on the 50th day after His crucified Son rises from death, He forms His New-Covenant people by giving them the gift of His Spirit.

So, here we are, 50 days after Easter.  So, we ask, “In this New Covenant, what is the work of the Spirit, and how does He work among us?”  To answer, we take in the words of our risen Lord, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word.”

A love for Jesus relies on who He is, trusting in Him and His saving work.  Don’t miss our Lord’s use of the word “love,” which shows faith is not a product of the intellect since love is beyond mere knowledge.  For as love transcends intelligence, so does trust in the Savior—and as love is deeper than a fleeting emotion, so also is belief.

Do not become complacent with the holy and righteous God.  Yes, the multi-faceted nature of faith is comforting—but also demands of you to be uncomfortable with yourself.  For relying on your Redeemer (loving Him), means keeping His Word.

Now, you may think He’s alerting you to obey the Commandments if you want eternal life.  Does He not tell us, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word”?   With our work-righteous minds in full gear, we think He’s directing us to do something to make ourselves worthy.  Such thinking sends us astray.

Now, if we can keep His Word well enough to satisfy God, why did Jesus need to die, rise, and later breathe into us the Father’s life-creating Breath?  No, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word,” is not about Moses’ word, the Ten Commandments.

No, for what the all-holy One demands of us, shows us our iniquity, not makes us righteous.  The Almighty’s commands can never comfort, for we fail to obey and follow them, which we will admit if we are honest.  The entire Old Testament teaches us this truth.  So, the Law doesn’t preach us into righteousness—but repentance.

Remember, the Church always begins with what our Heavenly Father did and does to make and keep us His own.  Listen again to His first word, “I am Yahweh, your God, who rescued you out of the land of Egypt, from a place of slavery.”  Without His doing, we never become His people and cannot live as His own.

The Messiah’s Word is a Word of amnesty, of Absolution.  “O wretched sinner, I come to bear your burdens, to suffer your sickness, to die your death.  Without Me, you can do nothing.  Come to Me, you dweller of darkness, and I will give you light.  Come to Me, you sin-slaughtered one, and I will give you life.”  For our Savior’s Word is a life-breathing Word, a Word of salvation, of life unending.

Those who love the cross-bearing Christ, cling to His Word of amnesty.  For they realize the need for His acquittal and release.  Earlier, I said an honest faith can make you uncomfortable with yourself.  Here’s why.  The more you recognize what festers within you, the more you identify the sinner inside.  The less you try to hide your failures from your Father above, the more you realize how much you need Jesus.

So, we need the Law to unmask our fallen ways and teach us to repent.  The more we admit our failings, the more we will love our crucified Lord.  For what enlivens us is not a passing emotion but a belief, which trusts in Him who rose from death to give us life.

The Word we depend on for life everlasting is this, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word.”  The saving Word of mercy and grace from Life Himself is what we keep, never letting such a cherished gift slip from our grasp.

The miracle of this day is more than the mighty Breath of the Father descending on His people through His Son.  Yes, He caused them to speak in many languages.  Why?  To deliver the Messiah’s message, who died to bring us the Father’s word of pardon.

On Pentecost, the roar of the rushing wind draws the people to the Gospel.  The work of the Spirit points others toward the Word the first Christians proclaim.  What did they speak?  “In our languages, we listen to them declare the wonders of God” (Acts 2:11).  Those are the deeds of your incarnate Lord.  In His dying and rising, He comes to forgive us of our sins and failures and raise us to life on the Last Day.

The Apostle Peter stands up to preach, for he loved Jesus, held on to His Word, and proclaimed as much to the world.  “The Lord is faithful, though you do not keep His Word.  Yes, you killed the prophesied Messiah, but He still comes to forgive.”

The ever-moving Breath from Heaven does not come to create warm fuzzies but to point us to the incarnate Son, who delivers from death and damnation.  Did Jesus not say as much to His Apostles?  Yes!  “The Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything and remind you of what I said to you” (John 14:29).

The Divine Breath from above enabled the Apostles to breathe out Christ, to proclaim a Baptism for the forgiveness of sins.  The inspiriting Breath from the Father is still at work today.  How so?  In the preached Jesus, of His death, resurrection, and our release from sin.

So, where does the Spirit do the Father’s bidding?  In the Word and water of Baptism, where He brings someone into heaven’s kingdom.  In the proclaimed Word, where He pierces our ears and enters our hearts.  Whenever you receive the body and blood of the One crucified for you, He is bringing you to the One with eternal life within Him.

So few want what the Father grants to us through His Son.  The Son tells us as much, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you.  Not as the world gives do I give to you” (John 14:27).

What is the peace, which so many of this world want?  A warm bed on Sunday morning, a hefty retirement account, a new car, forgetting our problems, and dismissing our misdeeds as but minor mistakes.  The world’s measure of reality leaves little room for Christ.

By the Spirit, our Rescuer from the bonds of eternal death provides us with something different.  The world wishes for what can never last, which will end in death and decay.  In the end, we are left to face eternal judgment.  Exposed is every failure to obey the Almighty, of loving your neighbor, of misspoken words, of selfish deeds.

So into our callused and wayward hearts, the risen Son comes and speaks His Word, “Peace be with you.”  These joyous sounds enter our ears, “I forgive you.  Never-ending life in now yours, under the rule and reign of your merciful King.”

What our Savior sends us comes from within Him.  For what He speaks arises from His righteousness and holiness.  By giving us His cease-fire with the Father, He provides us with something we can never achieve ourselves.  So, we do not receive a worldly restoration but an eternal one, from the Son, because of His life-restoring death.

Don’t despair if you lack the fireworks of those false prophets, who come to peddle what is slick and empty of substance.  The Messiah’s serenity is not like what the world offers you.  For the divine Breath of the Father fulfills the promise of Jesus, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you.  Not as the world gives do I give to you.”

The faith-creating Wind of divinity does not help us achieve harmony with God.  No, by Word, water, and Table, He dishes out to us the tranquility of Salvation despite, and amid, the turmoil of this world.  Does not our Savior tell us, “My peace, I give to you”?

So, what does someone do and say, who receives this eternal cease-fire from Christ?  “Give thanks to the Lord, for his faithful love endures forever” (Psalm 106:1).  From what Jesus gives him, he now turns and speaks to another, “Peace be with you.  The Savior of the world forgives me.  So also do I forgive.”  Ah, the work of this Divine Spirit, sacred and mighty, sent by the Son from the Father.

On this day, let us pray again for the Spirit to be active in our lives.  May He bring us to turn from our fallen cravings back toward Christ to keep His Word.  Embrace His Gospel Word of forgiving grace, and live forever in His goodwill and blessing.  Amen.