23 Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. 24 Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father’s who sent me.
25 “These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. 26 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. 27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. 28 You heard me say to you, ‘I am going away, and I will come to you.’ If you loved me, you would have rejoiced, because I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. 29 And now I have told you before it takes place, so that when it does take place you may believe. 30 I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming. He has no claim on me, 31 but I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father. Rise, let us go from here.” (ESV)
Introduction: If Anyone Loves Me!
If anyone loves me, he will keep my word. How are we to understand these words? Now, if our Lord were demanding that we prove our love by keeping His word, then we would all be in trouble. Do we love Jesus above all things? Tragically, no we don’t. Do we keep and ponder the word of Jesus as our greatest treasure, taking every opportunity to hear and learn it? No we don’t.
To make matters worse, our Lord tells us that the devil—the ruler of this world is coming! The devil comes into your life and mine to accuse us before God. And does he ever have plenty of ammunition to throw at us! Our hypocrisy, our lackadaisical prayers and devotional life, our dark deeds done in secret and our public sins that are evident to those around us. All of these sins the devil wants to throw into our faces and before God. It is the worse nightmare possible— to have the devil ever accusing us with the devilish hope that God will finally turn from us and condemn us.
The ruler of this world has no claim against Jesus and against us!
But be of good cheer! For Jesus has utterly defeated the devil at the cross and now is risen victoriously, seated at the right hand of the Father. There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1). God does not turn from us and condemn us; rather, the devil’s accusations are driven away by our Saviour, the Lord Jesus.
What sweet news it is, then, when Jesus says, The ruler of this world is coming, and he has no claim on Me. Meaning that there is nothing in Jesus of which the devil can accuse Him. Jesus lived a life of perfect obedience to His Father; thus, there is not a single sin of which the devil can accuse Jesus. What’s more, Jesus suffered the penalty of death, the penalty which you and I deserved because of our sins. And in His dying in our place on the cross, this Jesus—the eternal Son of God, the One in whom there is no sin—this One the Father made to be sin for us. And in His holy dying on our behalf, Jesus destroyed the devil’s works. So now, when the ruler of this world comes with your sins, your inadequacies, your failures, and throws them at you, his accusations do not stick. You are in Christ, and since the devil can bring no charge against Christ, he also can bring no charge against you.
To accused sinners, sorely oppressed, Jesus proclaims Good News: [the devil] has no claim on Me. And that is why the Holy Spirit comes—for the sake of those words and all the words of our Lord. The purpose of the Holy Spirit’s coming on the Day of Pentecost is apparent even in the signs themselves: wind and tongues. Wind, breath, air, combined with the tongue, make speech. So when you hear how the Holy Spirit came, in the mighty rushing wind and the tongues of fire, remember for what purpose He came: to bring to the Apostles remembrance of the Word of Jesus, and to speak that Word to the world. The Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.
Everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved!
The Holy Spirit brings to our remembrance the Gospel of Christ, including the good news that [the devil] has no claim on Jesus and on those who live in Jesus. We see this on the Day of Pentecost in Peter’s preaching, where he quotes from the prophet Joel that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.
Everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. This means that the devil has no claim on those who are saved through faith in Christ. In Holy Baptism, God makes us His own dear children, who now are privileged to pray with all boldness and confidence that our dear heavenly Father will hear and answer our prayers. In Baptism, the Holy Trinity—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—descends upon and indwells the one who is baptized. And against all who are indwelt by the Holy Trinity, the devil has no claim. Oh, the devil can tempt and afflict us, but he cannot prevent us from calling upon the name of the Lord, from asking for the Lord’s mercy and forgiveness, from trusting the Lord to keep His promise to save us!
Loving Jesus and keeping His Word is a Gospel reality!
Of course, the devil still wants us to believe that he has a claim against us because of our sins. And he even uses the Lord’s words against us. Take for example our Lord’s words in today’s Gospel: If anyone loves me, he will keep my word. Our Lord intends these words to be a source of great comfort. But the devil loves to take this words and shape them into a club with which he can beat us down with his accusations. And his accusation are, sadly, true: we don’t love Jesus perfectly, we don’t keep His word perfectly.
But to understand these words properly, we need to read the entire sentence: If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. This talk of the Father and Jesus making their home with us—this is Baptism talk, which means that this is not Law, but Gospel. Our Lord is not demanding proof of our love but simply describing the glorious reality which He creates through Holy Baptism. The focus is not on what we do but on what God has done to save us. Loving Jesus and keeping His word are not impossible-to-keep demands of the Law which ultimately accuse and condemn us. Rather, loving Jesus and keeping His word is the Gospel reality which our Lord creates through Baptism.
The Spirit-given gift of loving Jesus and keeping His Word.
The Good News this morning is that loving Jesus and keeping His Word are gifts of the Spirit, first given us in Holy Baptism and then constantly renewed by the Holy Word and by our Lord’s Holy Absolution and Holy Supper. You see how it goes? First, the Father loves you and the Holy Triune God makes His home in you when you are baptized. Then the Holy Spirit empowers you to love Jesus and keep His Word your whole lives long, even unto death. Your loving and your keeping are imperfect, but nonetheless they are gifts of the Spirit.
The Holy Spirit empowering us, we love Jesus when we have faith and confidence in Jesus, ever clinging to Him as God’s Son, our Lord and Saviour. And we keep Jesus’ word when we hold on to His gift of forgiveness. Loving Jesus is to rely confidently on the fact that Jesus Christ came into this world to save sinners through the shedding of His blood. And keeping Jesus’ word is to let nothing in life or death—no affliction or suffering, no joy or pleasure—tear from your heart the promise that the crucified and risen Son of God is for you. In loving Jesus and keeping His Word, we learn to give God thanks, to praise God, to call upon God in the day of trouble, and to order our way rightly according to God’s Word (see Psalm 50). Now this is not your doing. Rather, this is the gift of faith which the Holy Spirit implants, cultivates, deepens, and strengthens in you as you hear and cling to Jesus’ words.
For you, everyday is Pentecost!
Today, the Helper, the Holy Spirit comes upon you. All for your forgiveness, life, and salvation. On the day of Pentecost, over 3,000 received the Holy Spirit through Baptism. You received the Spirit the same way; you could say that Pentecost happened on the day you were baptized. On that day, the devil—the ruler of this world, that unclean spirit—was commanded to depart from your heart and make way for the Holy Spirit! And now, in and through your baptism, the Holy Trinity indwells you. And you know what that means. The devil, who wants to tear you apart with his accusations, has no claim upon you.
The next time, then, the devil throws your sins in your face, by the power of the Holy Spirit say this: “I am baptized! The ruler of this world has nothing in me. It is true, my sins are great. But the Father’s love for me is greater. The Son’s death is my life. The Spirit’s words are my peace. The devil cannot accuse Jesus my Lord, so neither can he accuse me. Begone, Satan, and make way for the Holy Spirit.”
And the Holy Spirit descends upon you afresh through Word and Sacrament so that for you everyday is Pentecost. For everyday the Holy Spirit brings to your remembrance our Lord’s glorious promise that the devil has no claim upon you and that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. Therefore let not your hearts be troubled, for the Spirit has given you Jesus, and having Jesus, you have everything you need. Amen.