Sunday, April 27, 2008

The Latest Thing Is the Same Old Thing

Sixth Sunday of Easter
Sunday, April 27, 2008
John 14:15-21

In the beginning God spoke. That’s how He created the universe, by speaking it into existence. And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. We know this because God has written it down the Holy Scriptures.

In those very same Holy Scriptures is written down man’s reaction to God’s Word. It is not too long before he’s saying of God’s Word, “Did God really say?” Okay, the serpent in the Garden of Eden was the one who said it, but Adam and Eve were all too ready to question God’s Word, going right along with Satan’s temptation. And you know what the rest of the Bible is? Man’s continued questioning of God’s Word to him.

So those people in the First reading from Acts? They were always wanting to talk about something new. What’s the latest thing? It’s sounds like a bunch of teenagers. The philosophy that was going around last week is old. We want something our itching ears will latch onto. But what they refused to listen to—surprise, surprise—was the Word of God, which says, “There is nothing new under the sun.” We’re about three thousand years from that statement in the Bible and about two thousand from those men who loitered around the marketplace attempting to discover the latest philosophical trend.

And you know what? Nothing has changed. There’s nothing new under the sun, after all. The latest thing is actually the same old thing, maybe just packaged a little differently. Every different spin on it is just another variation of those first words spoken in response to God’s Word—“Did God really say?” It doesn’t matter where you look in history, people are questioning what God says. Peter in the Epistle reading mentions the people who didn’t believe that God would destroy the earth with a massive flood. We know what happened there. So many people didn’t believe Jesus was God. Not even His rising from the grave could convince some of them.

We may not question the resurrection of Christ. We may not stand around in the marketplace of society seeking after new philosophies. But we may be enticed by those in Christianity who are popular and give a message that is nothing more than psychology, even though they tack on some Bible verses to it. Churches that are growing in massive numbers and that have exciting programs may catch our eye even if their message or programs offer what you can get outside of Christianity.

But God has given us His Word nonetheless. It’s kind of like when you tell your kids stuff they don’t understand and they want to know why you’re telling them. Things are the way they are even if they don’t understand it. God knows we don’t understand His ways. He knows we question Him. But that doesn’t stop Him from telling us what we need to know.

We have this incessant desire for something new. We don’t want the same old, same old. But when we look at God’s Word, we see that He doesn’t give us something new. He gives us what He has always given, and that is life. That is His care and compassion. It may sound boring, but can you imagine what it would be like if God kept changing the rules? If He told you one thing one day and changed it the next? We’re the ones who have questioned His Word, when in fact His Word has remained the same all along.

So when Jesus says He is going to give us the Holy Spirit, He’s not talking about something new, but about the very same Holy Spirit who was present at creation, hovering over the face of the waters. Since Jesus came to earth to suffer and die in our place, He has no need to remain on earth. He has ascended into heaven but didn’t want to leave us destitute. He has given us His Holy Spirit so that we may receive the comfort we need, especially in those times we question Him because we’re struggling.

A few weeks ago when I went to the LWML Rally and saw the performance of Katie Luther, I learned a few things about Martin’s wife that I hadn’t known before. I hadn’t realized that before Martin ever had an inkling of romantic interest in her that she had fallen in love with someone and they had even become engaged. After a few weeks he had to get back home for some business but she heard nothing from him. After a few weeks she became aware she would never see him again. He chose to cut off the relationship. Obviously, there are times when we are separated by distance from those we love, but generally, we need to be with them. We need to be face to face with them. We need a relationship with them where we’re actually in contact with each other.

And that’s why God was in contact with Adam and Eve walking in the Garden with them. That’s why God became flesh and dwelt among us. That’s why even though Jesus has ascended bodily He continues to come to us bodily in the bread and wine of His Holy Supper. It is in these ways that we see what God wants—He wants to be with us. He wants us to enjoy His blessings and grace. He wants us to experience the eternal love only He can give to us.

You may desire something new, but Jesus points you back to Himself. “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.” If we think we don’t love Jesus because we don’t keep His commandments, we’re missing the thrust of His statement. We do love Christ—we love Him because He first loved us. And so, miraculously, we do keep His commandments. How is it that we who fail to keep His commandments, actually do? He says that “In that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you.” It always goes back to Christ. In Him we live and move and have our being.

There’s nothing new, really. His love for you never fails. He doesn’t come up with new stuff to surprise you, but with His unfailing steadfast love. Amen.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Now that's the gospel!!

Thanks for handing Him over to me without any strings attached!

- Steve Martin San Clemente, CA