The Sermon for Easter 6 May 6, 2018
Text: John 14:15-21 3 Year Series A 18:2067
Theme: Never Alone!
Who is the most important person in your life? A husband, wife, father, mother, brother, sister, friend? Pick someone out. Do you have someone in mind? Now imagine that person is gone – never to be seen by you anymore in this life. Some of you know what that is like already, don’t you? You’ve lost someone who is near and dear to you. It hurts, doesn’t it? – at least for awhile. Sadly, for some, the hurt never goes away. Emptiness remains.
Thank goodness for Christ, our Savior! Where would we be without Him? He plugs the hole of our losses with Himself, and He fills our emptiness with His presence and promises. True, we lose people in this life, people who are near and dear to us. But if they believe in the Lord Jesus as their Savior, we never truly lose them for we shall see them again in heaven. Gone for a time? Yes, but we know that because Christ lives, they live, too, by faith in Him. And one day we shall be reunited with them and the whole company of believers in the mansions above. Gone? Yes, for a time. But lost? Never! They’re with the Savior! And the Savior is with them. What joy!
Now think of that. They are at the side of the Good Shepherd who holds them and cares for them eternally in ways that you and I never could. What better place to be than with the Savior? Never Alone!
I. Never alone because we’ve got another Counselor with us.
Ask the disciples. They knew that there was no better place to be than with the Savior. They loved to be in His presence, hearing Him, watching Him, walking with Him; it’s what they daily lived for. That’s why they were so upset and fearful when Jesus told them He was going away. What! Left alone?
Earlier that evening He told them, “I am going to be with you only a little longer. You will look for me…(but) where I am going, you cannot come.” Then, in our text He said, “In a little while the world will see me no longer.” He was leaving this world. They were losing their dearest friend. And they were afraid, afraid to be alone without Him, stuck in the world by themselves.
That empty feeling shouldn’t be so hard for us to understand. Don’t we feel it too when someone leaves us? At such a departure one feels alone, and perhaps unloved. Alone, unloved they go together. No
one likes to feel that way. It makes one sad, sorrowful, and afraid.
Such emptiness of feelings is like that told in a story by a small group of soldiers. At Christmas they had stopped at an orphanage. All the children there had lost their parents in the war. The soldiers – seeing no Christmas trees, no decorations, and no gifts gave whatever they had in their pockets to the orphaned children. One soldier saw a small boy standing alone in a corner. He went over to him and asked, “Little boy, what do you want?” Turning his face to the soldier, the boy answered, “Please, sir, I want to be loved.”
Alone, unloved, afraid! That’s how the disciples felt, too, on the night before Jesus’ crucifixion. When they heard of His plans to go to Jerusalem to suffer, die, rise again, and go to the Father’s House above, they were greatly troubled. Their minds couldn’t take it all in, and their hearts were filled with sorrow because they didn’t want to be left alone, helpless like orphans in an oft-times unfriendly world.
So it was that the Savior promised, “I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Counselor to be with you forever – the Spirit of truth….He stays with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans.”
Jesus ascended, but He never left us alone, dear friends. We’ve got another Counselor with us, one whom He specifically had the Father send to us – the Holy Spirit. He is a Counselor who speaks the truth. Now, what does a counselor do?
Well, students have guidance counselors; married couples meet with marriage counselors; people going to court meet with legal counselors; there are financial counselors, counselors for almost any need we might have in our day. They stand by people and offer support, guidance, direction, and comfort to their clients. They became the advocate for the person in need
And, you know, the same is true with the Holy Spirit. In fact He offers the best guidance, support, and comfort of all, because He only knows and only speaks divine truth from the Lord Jesus and the Heavenly Father who have forgiven us for Christ’s sake. He reminds us of all the promises that the Savior taught us, and He’s with us forever, especially in the sad and bad times, to support us. He’s there lifting you up even when you don’t know it. And when you are confused about God’s Word and eternal matters of the soul, He guides you into the truth of the Gospel as you listen to Him for He is the Spirit of truth. Think of this Counselor’s presence and work in your life this way.
Do you ever try to move a large and heavy object by yourself? A sofa, a chair, a table? It’s not easy. First you take hold of one end and move it. Then you move to the other end and shove. After much grunting and groaning, you may get it done or you may give up until help arrives. Then the job is made easier and done more efficiently when another person helps you.
This is the picture in the Greek words of what the Counselor, the Spirit of truth, does for those who in faith are missing the Savior. It appears that they are alone, struggling to move in life. But the Counselor is with them and in them to aid them. The Bible says, “He helps us in our weakness” (Ro.8:26). Literally, He comes to our side. He “goes to bat” for us. He “takes hold of the other end with us” to move the burden. And it is done! That’s the promise here, dear friends. So, don’t ever think you are alone in the struggles of faith.
True, Jesus left His disciples through death’s door. True, He left them a second time when He ascended into heaven. But in His place came another who will never, ever leave those who believe. Alone? Never! Jesus ascended, but we’ve got another Counselor with us.
II. Never alone because we enjoy a wonderful fellowship with God
But really, has Jesus left us? Listen again to what He said, “I will not leave you as orphans; I am coming to you. In a little while the world will see me no longer, but you will see me….In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father. I too will love him and show myself to him.”
You see, sad and alone as the disciples were tempted to feel, Jesus was still with them – “to the end of the world,” He promised. And He is with you, too, through your faith in Him.
“Jesus is with you.” That is what we often say to a fellow believer who is lonely, or sad, or suffering, or going on a trip, or undergoing surgery, and so on. “Jesus is with you.” It’s more than just a greeting or a wishful thinking; it’s reality! He said, “I am coming to you.”
Like a mother who soothes her tearful child when she has to go away for awhile, the Savior soothed the disciples’ fears by saying, “I’ll be right back.” And He was; they saw Him.
How many times after the crucifixion and the resurrection didn’t they see Him? Once He even appeared to over 500 of them. The world, which had rejected Him, didn’t see Him again; but they who followed Him did. Even after He ascended, His disciples continued to see Him – not with these eyes (physical), but with these (heart) – with the eyes of faith. And with those eyes, they enjoyed a wonderful fellowship with Him.
And it wasn’t limited to the Lord Jesus; it included the presence of the Father with them. He said, “In that day you will know that I am in
my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.” If the Lord Jesus is in the Father, and He is in His disciples, then the Father is in them, too
One with the Father, one with the Lord Jesus, one with the Spirit – it’s a special kind of fellowship that the triune God has with those who believe. He fills us with His complete presence. This wonderful fellowship with God is a constant source of power, assurance, and comfort for us throughout our lives. Don’t you forget it! Practice it.
The story is told of a pious old Scotsman who made use of this special fellowship with God in the following way. One day he was visited by the minister who had recently been called into the parish. After the pastor had seated himself by the old man’s bedside, he saw a vacant chair pulled up on the other side of the bed. Evidently, it had been used just before he entered the room. Pointing to the chair, the pastor said, “Well, I see that I’m not your first visitor this morning.” Following the pastor’s eye to the vacant chair, the old man replied, “Oh – that chair? Let me tell you about it.”
“Many years ago I found it difficult to pray when I went to bed. I was so tired that I often fell asleep on my knees. If I managed to keep awake, I couldn’t keep my thoughts from wandering. One day I spoke to the minister about it. He told me not to worry. ‘Just sit on your bed and put a chair opposite you. Imagine that the Lord Jesus is in it, and talk to Him just as you would to a friend who is with you.’ I began doing that, and have been doing it ever since.”
The elderly man died that night. The next day when they found him his hand was resting upon the chair.
It may not be possible or even desirable to cultivate the habit of the vacant chair, but how important that every one of us cultivate the practice of the Triune God’s presence in our lives – for they are with us in a much higher way than we even imagine. Never Alone we enjoy a wonderful fellowship with God. Even when I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil for He is with me. God grant it to us in faith for Jesus’ sake. Amen.