Grace, mercy, and peace to
you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ,
Looking at those Scripture
readings you have to kind of wonder about God’s will. Well I suppose
you don’t have to look at those Scripture readings to figure out in
your own life. You kind of scratch your head sometimes about God’s will.
I mean why does He do the things He does?
In the Old Testament reading,
everybody’s language was the same. It was the perfect opportunity for
the gospel to spread. Everybody understood each other’s language. There
was no need to study over a book and memorize vocabulary or other means
in order to learn another language to proclaim Christ. Everybody knew
the same language.
But the problem? The problem
is the same problem all human beings have…thinking we have the idea
to fix or insure the continuance of our own ideas and thoughts, philosophy,
and culture. The people who were gathered around that tower of Babel
were thinking in terms of, What can we do to establish ourselves
and not let anyone forget who we are?
The problem is they forgot
God. And that is how it is most of the time when we try to figure out
God’s will because it runs against ours. Then God changes His will seemingly
in the second reading when on Pentecost of all of these different people
are given the ability to speak in another known language without ever
having to study or learn vocabulary.
Now they are speaking the Word
of God in a language they have never learned. Yet people who hear it
in their own language hear it and are amazed. And God is doing the exact
opposite. Now that which He confused at the tower of Babel by giving
everyone different languages, He kicks it off in unity. But the unity
isn’t around a common language, is it? The unity is around the common
Lord, Jesus, and is spoken in different languages to different cultures.
That’s the unity.
So that which seemed to be
a scattering of God’s humanity and causing problems really spared humanity
from going to…exactly…from going down there, away from God. Take
a deep breath and listen. I have something to tell you.
Do you remember those times
in your life when everything seemed to go very smoothly, when your work
was a joy to arise and go to, the co-workers with which you worked were
enjoyable and affirming of you, when your children seemed to…everything
go so smoothly for them, and you as a parent assumed you had actual
control over your children?
Your marriage was affirming
and beneficial for one another and at the end of the day you would sit
there, and reflect, and say, “God is good! Thank You Lord for all
of this goodness!” And doubts and fears, anxieties and problems,
seemed to be nowhere near the still waters of your life. Prior to this
statement Jesus speaks in our gospel reading, so was the life of the
They didn’t get beat up; they
didn’t get cut, burned, hung, sawn, crucified while they were with Jesus.
They were always fed, always cared for. Everything seemed to be going
very smoothly and wonderfully while Jesus was with them. Then He tells
them these things the night of His betrayal, in fact, moments before
He was betrayed.
And it’s interesting because
one of the apostles speaks a question right before this is spoken by
our Lord. And the apostle asks, “You know, Lord, You’ve manifested
Yourself to us. We see, we believe, we are enjoying the miracles You’ve
shown us. Why don’t You manifest Yourself to the world in the same way?”
Almost as if, when you’re going through those smooth times, you think,
Lord, I see You are good by all of the things that are going on in my
life. Show that to other people and they’ll be convinced You are loving
Jesus responds in a very unique
way. The first part of His response is a summary of saying, “There
are either believers…’Anyone loves Me, he will keep My word'”…or
“There are unbelievers…’Whoever does not love Me does not keep
“Yeah! But Jesus! All
You need to do is to manifest Yourself to them in such a way they’ll
respond as we responded! All You have to do, Lord, is repackage Yourself
and change some things. That’s all You have to do, Lord.” Kind
of like…all we have to do as a culture, the people who had gathered
around that great tower of Babel, all we have to do is build this tower,
show the world how great we are…and ourselves obviously, who is the
world…and then we will be reminded of our greatness.
Well in the same way you remember
those times when things were so well, you also remember very well when
work was a pain to get up to go to; you didn’t enjoy your co-workers.
Children were going through difficult times of middle school and high
school. Lots of times they acted as if they didn’t love you at all as
a parent. And your marriage was kind of unhealthy.
And as you reflect upon those
times you had to have asked yourself the same thing we know the disciples
of our Lord asked: “Lord, where are You? Why does it have to be
this way? Why do You have to thrust me into such uncomfortability? Can’t
You just manifest Yourself like You did before? Can’t You just package
Yourself in my life into such a way that I don’t have to go through
this? Is this really necessary?”
Because remember when Jesus
gave the gift of the Holy Spirit on this day we’re celebrating, and
those people were given that ability to proclaim God’s Word in another
language, and those people took it back with them to their various regions
of the world, and the Church was born, all hell broke loose.
Because you have people being
killed for the sake of the faith now, and Jesus doesn’t stop it. You
have people being spat upon, torn apart, and completely turned away
by their family and friends, and Jesus isn’t stopping it. And you also
have apostles, these same apostles who were fearful, gathered in that
upper room after Christ’s death.
And what were Christ’s first
words to His apostles? “Peace be with you.” He found them
in their fears and in their anxieties and greeted them not with reprimand
or anger, but “Peace be with you.” What does this mean?
Commercial break…a lot of
y’all came to church today. We’re glad to have you. Come a little bit
earlier next Sunday and join us in Bible class from about 9:30 to 10:30.
It’s a great way to start your day as well as coming to church. And
we’re talking about this very thing, this wrestling with our flesh and
the Devil. Join us.
Back to the text. Our church
is in such a time as the disciples found them after the gift of the
Holy Spirit came. They weren’t coddled any longer. Tough decisions had
to be made, decisions they didn’t want to make, and they had to bear
the consequences of those decisions in their hearts.
Out of all those 12 apostles,
only one was spared martyrdom. Now that’s a great business paradigm,
isn’t it? Send your salesman out with the greatest message of the world
and let him be killed. What kind of a God is that? And yet the Church
took off, grew, and God by His Holy Spirit emboldened people to do things
they did not think they could do, because they viewed things through
their mind and through their heart and not through what God had revealed
to them by that Spirit.
You see the world promises
a lot of good things. But the good things this world promises are never
ever eternal. They’re always temporary. They taste good for a while,
they feel good for a while, and then it’s gone. And it leaves us yearning
more and feeling very unsatiated with a bitter aftertaste. And it always
Christ promises good as well,
but His good is eternal. It awaits us and it’s not here all the time.
We have those moments when we look at things and say, “Wow! God
is so great! Everything is going so well!” And we have those times
when it looks as if, “God! You’ve abandoned us!”
You know those times when you’ve
had a look at your son or daughter and say to them, “Honey, I’d
love to buy you that, but I can’t afford it. Your mom and I can’t afford
that.” You’ve talked about it with your beloved bride. You saw
her eyes light up when she saw that house. And after doing the math
you realized, “Honey, we can’t afford that. I’d love to give it
to you”…because we men love to give our wives good gifts and
our children good gifts.
And sometimes we have to make
those difficult decisions and it’s no fun. It hurts to look at someone
you love dearly and say, “Can’t do it. I’m sorry.” Who’s to
blame? The church leadership? The pastors? You’re a member of this church.
You have as much to share in this blame as anyone.
So who do we blame? When the
disciples were in that upper room after Christ’s death, before He revealed
Himself to them, you kind of can only imagine…we have no scriptural
proof…but you can only imagine if human beings are human beings and
all of them scattered like a covey of quail when Jesus was taken, guilt
was upon their shoulders for what they had done. Guilt can be upon our
shoulders for what we could have and should have done, but didn’t.
It doesn’t do God a whole bunch
of good for us to sit here with this guilt, does it? It doesn’t do each
other in the pew a whole lot of good to feel guilty. It doesn’t matter
whose fault it is. But God finds you today by His Holy Spirit in the
midst of all the concerns and cares of your mind. Whether it’s on this
church or on your own life, God finds you and greets you with that which
He left His disciples and greeted them with it again: “Peace be
This peace is not a feeling
and it’s not the lack of trouble and difficulty. This peace is Christ.
He is peace incarnate. He is that which God the Father has said, “With
You I am well-pleased.” He is the One who says, “The Father
and I wish to make Our home in you. In the midst of all of your fears
and anxieties We wish to dwell with you.”
Or why would He have come back
to that upper room and greeted them in their fear with “Peace be
with you” if He did not want to still dwell with them? You He still
wishes to dwell with. In the midst of questions of which you cannot
understand or answer, of which we can sit here and question and ponder
all we desire, He still wishes to come to you.
He does remind us that this world
is not where it’s all at. It continually pulls us to the here and the
now as it did to the people of Babel, thinking they needed to do something
here and now. This is what we have to do now! And in the midst of when
people had no idea of what to do at Pentecost, did God give them marching
orders and reveal to them what they should do? Go preach.
You have to wonder if Paul,
as he laid his head upon that chopping block and saw the shadow of the
axe rising and falling, that he did not think in his mind, Lord, Your
will be done because Your will is all that matters.
Our Lord said, “Let not
your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” And the “Do
not be afraid” really means don’t be cowardly, let not Satan
harass you, let not his attacks and his troubling of your heart and
mind cause you to be removed from the One who abides in you and with
The Spirit has come to you
through this Word and through that Lord’s Supper, and continually draws
you back daily. And in the midst of your fears does He come again. He
doesn’t wait for you to clean up your fears. He doesn’t wait for you
to get rid of your anxiety, to get a grip on all of the things that
are all coming unraveled.
He takes you as you are, just
like a parent does your own child. When your child acts perfectly and
fulfills all of your expectations, they don’t become more your child.
When your child acts less than your expectations and completely disappoints
you, they don’t become less your child. They are your child because
you begot them. You are God’s child because He begot you of the water
and the Word and called you to faith. He abides in you as you are and
you are succored by Him and nourished by Him.
Then it’s kind of an interesting
ending to the text. All of a sudden this seriousness comes to a close
and He says, “Rise, let’s go.” And so it is this morning.
“Okay! It is what it is and God has given us what we need. Let’s
get up and let’s go. We can’t sit here. We can’t self-analyze. We must
receive what God has given us and let’s go. He’s given us things to
accomplish. Let’s go.” And the peace of the Lord will be with you
The peace of God which passes
all understanding keep your hearts and your minds on Christ Jesus to
life everlasting, Amen.