Sunday, April 29, 2018

Sermon: Cantate (Easter 5) - 2018

29 April 2018

Text: John 16:5-15 (Jas 1:16-21)

In the name of + Jesus.  Amen.

Christ is risen!  He is risen indeed!  Alleluia!

When the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all truth,” says our blessed Lord, preparing the disciples for the coming of the Holy Spirit.

Often, as reported by John in his Gospel, our Lord Jesus preaches and teaches, saying, “Truly, truly, I say to you” and “I tell you the truth.”  And at our Lord’s trial, a frustrated Pontius Pilate, who at times sounds like he is on trial instead of Jesus, asks, “What is truth?”

Our Lord also said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.”

The opposite of the truth is the lie.  Our Lord refers to Satan as the father of lies.  The first recorded lie in Scripture was spoken by the devil to Eve, “You will not surely die.”

This conflict between the truth and the lie is both ancient, and cosmic.  As thinking creatures crafted in the image of God, mankind takes in information about the world.  He assesses his situation.  He decides.  He acts.  Without truthful information, he can destroy himself or others.  This is why lying under oath in a court of law is itself a crime.  This is why the Eighth Commandment protects the reputation of each human being by condemning “false witness.” 

And this is why, dear friends, we need a Helper, to help us navigate this Satanic web of deception, this minefield of the world, the devil, and our own sinful flesh.  The Lord ascends to the Father and sends this Helper to us, and this is indeed to our advantage.  For in truth, He convicts the world, “concerning sin, and righteousness, and judgment.”

As our Lord promises, “When the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all truth.”

The Holy Spirit’s main job, dear friends, is to lead us, to guide us, to be that lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path, to keep us from stumbling into error and falsehood, to help us discern the truth from the lie, to embrace that which is real and accurate, and to flee that which is a mirage or a deception.

Our sinful flesh is quick to accept an enticing lie, especially when it fits a narrative that appeals to us.  We are eager to believe gossip if it is about someone we dislike.  We are eager to believe lies that are even obvious – if we think we stand to gain – which is how con men operate.  Our egos are especially open to the lie that we can be like God, a whopper that mankind has been believing since the serpent slithered up to Eve and whispered sweet monstrosities in her ever-willing ear.

There are many other lies Satan would have you believe, dear friends.  You may wonder if baptism really saves you, or if a pastor really has authority to speak forgiveness to you in Christ’s name and by His authority.  You may have your doubts about the reliability of Scripture, or if the bread and wine are truly the body and blood of Christ.  You may think that your sins are either too great to be forgiven, or too trifling to worry about.  You may be tempted to believe that the Church is filled with hypocrites, and that you are not one.  You may think you have all the answers and really have nothing to learn from a sermon.  You may have heard that Christianity is a bunch of ancient myths cobbled together, or that it is a conspiracy theory designed by the powerful to oppress the world’s workers, or peasants, or minorities, or women, or those whose sexual lives to not conform to the truth of biology.

We are awash in lies, dear friends.  We not only live in the midst of a culture of death, but also in a confusing matrix of lies.  The only way to exist in this deceitful world is to have a guide, a truthful guide, a Helper, who will lead us into all truth.

The Holy Spirit has caused the Scriptures to be written, and they are true.  The Holy Spirit draws you to the Word of God and to the Sacraments, and they are true.  The Holy Spirit testifies of the Lord Jesus Christ, and He is the truth.

“In the beginning was the Word.”  The Lord God, the Creator, commanded, and as a result, all things truly came into being.  This Creative Word was, is, and ever shall be, true.  The lie cannot create.  The lie can only corrupt.  The lie cannot generate.  The lie can only degrade.  The lie cannot edify.  The lie can only tear down that which is true.  The lie has no creative power or energy.  Only the Word who is God can bring the universe into being.

The Holy Spirit comes to the Church at Pentecost and fills her with zeal to proclaim the truth, to do so with courage and integrity, without guile and without deception.  The Holy Spirit comes to tell the truth far and wide: to friend and to foe, to believer and to unbeliever alike, the truth that Jesus Christ is the Lord, the true Word, the true God, the true atoning sacrifice, and the truly risen One.  He has truly defeated Satan by truly crushing the lie beneath His feet.

“Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers,” says St. James. “Of His own will He brought us forth by the Word of truth.” 

“When the Spirit of truth comes,” says our Lord Jesus, “He will guide you into all truth, for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak, and He will declare to you the things that are to come.”


Christ is risen!  He is risen indeed!  Alleluia!

In the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

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