Home > Easter, Sermons > A Good Report from the Promised Land. Cantate 2013 Sermon. St. John 16:5-15

A Good Report from the Promised Land. Cantate 2013 Sermon. St. John 16:5-15


Luther-Predigt-LC-WBCantate (Easter 5)

St. Peter Lutheran Church

St. John 16:5-15

April 28, 2013

“A Good Report From the Promised Land”

Jesu juva!



After the Lord brought the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt and through the sea, He led them to Mount Sinai and spoke the Ten Commandments in their hearing from the fire.  Then after a little while He led them to the edge of the land that He had promised to their ancestors—Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob—that He would give the land of Canaan to their descendants.


And the Israelites sent 12 men into the land that had been promised.  It was a good land, full of milk and honey.  The spies cut a cluster of grapes and brought them back with figs and pomegranates to the congregation of the people, so they could see how good the land was.


But at the same time, ten of the twelve spies brought back a “bad report”(Numbers 13:32) of the land.  They said, “Yes, it is a good land.  But the inhabitants of the land are stronger than us.  We won’t be able to take it.” With that report they caused the people of Israel to lose heart; they started to panic and accuse Moses of bringing them into the wilderness to die.


The result was that the Lord did for them as they believed; everyone who was over 20 would die in the desert before the people of Israel entered the land that God had promised them.  It wasn’t that long a journey from Egypt to Canaan, even by foot.  But they spent 40 years wandering in circles in the Sinai desert because they did not believe that the Lord had saved them from Egypt and that He would give them what He had promised.


The story about Israel’s exodus is really our story.  We are Abraham’s offspring.  For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ, writes the apostle in the third chapter of Galatians.  There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.  And if you are Christ’s, than you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.  (Galatians 3:26-29)


Our inheritance is not a physical piece of real estate in the Middle East.  It is a spiritual inheritance.


And Jesus is the spy who has gone into the inheritance that has been promised us.  He brings back a report from the kingdom He has gone to see, just like the spy from the people of Israel who shared His name—Joshua.  He brings back from His expedition a little of the fruit of the land, so that we can taste and see what the Lord has prepared for us—so that we can taste and see that the Lord is good (Ps. 34:8).


The grapes and figs and pomegranates—the fruit of the land—is the Holy Spirit, which was the blessing promised to Abraham (Galatians 3:14). 


In the Gospel reading Jesus is just about to go on this journey to spy out the land that the Lord has promised to Abraham and his descendants.

He is going to the Father.  He is going to the cross, to death, to judgment, and to the grave; He is going victoriously into hell to loot and pillage and burn Satan’s stronghold with His Word.  He is entering into the resurrection.  And after showing Himself to His disciples, He is ascending to the right hand of the Father.


None of this is bad news.  But all the disciples can hear is that Jesus is leaving them.


Maybe you can still remember being a child, before you toughened up and taught yourself to get used to disappointments.  Can you remember a time when you had your heart set on something that your mother told you wasn’t going to happen?  Or your mom took you to school for the first time and told you that she would be going away and leaving you for the entire day?

The disappointment may have been necessary—even good for you.  But then all we could feel was the stab in the heart of having what we had hoped for taken away from us.


That’s how it was for the disciples when they heard that Jesus would be leaving.


When you see a little kid going through this, you have two emotions.  One is pity, especially if it’s your kid.  You see their lip quivering as they try to hide their disappointment and pain.


The other is laughter that goes along with your sympathy, because you can see what the child doesn’t see.  It’s better that you go away, because if you don’t he will be robbed of the joys that come with growing up.  Although there are great sorrows and pains that come with being an adult, there are also joys that children can’t know.


That must have been something like what our Lord felt as He told His disciples that He would be going away.  No doubt the love that would like to spare His disciples all pain, but also the knowledge that they could not have the eternal joy, the highest joy, if He were to remain with them visibly.


But the disciples were totally unable to see this.  They were like the congregation of Israel.  They saw the fruit of the land and that it was good, but they also heard and saw that there were great enemies in the way of them taking possession of what God had promised.  So they were fearful.


Jesus had just said to the disciples in the verses before the Gospel reading: I have said this to you to keep you from falling away.  They will put you out of the synagogues.  Indeed, the hour is coming when whoever kills you will think that he is offering service to God.  (John 16:1-2)


How were they supposed to endure that?


We can see those words being fulfilled today.


He is called “helper”, “advocate.”


How does He help?  He convicts the world of sin, righteousness, judgment.

The Lord keeps us in the world because He loves the world.

Not just the apostles, not just us.


It seems mean to convict.  But actually in the conviction of sin, righteousness, and judgment, we are broken loose from the slavery of the devil.


The helper, the advocate, will do this through the apostles (and through the church now)—convict the world that wants to kill church of sin.

So He will do through the church today when the world hates us.

Cf. examples of persecution lately


Also the Holy Spirit makes known what Jesus wants to tell us.


Guides into all truth.


Reveals what is to come.


Gives a good report from the promised land—

Declares what is Christ’s to us.


He doesn’t come up with this on His own, but hears the Father and Son and then says it.


This is why his comfort is not false.


This is also where we learn to speak the word—from hearing what is spoken to us by the Spirit.


Our great weakness and our suffering becomes the vehicle through which we receive the Spirit; in our sin and helplessness we must pray (oratio mediation tentatio)


Now to the Father I depart, from earth to heav’n ascending. 

 And heav’nly wisdom to impart, the Holy Spirit sending. 

In trouble He will comfort you, and teach you always to be true;

and into truth shall guide you. 

[LSB 556 stanza 9(?)–“Dear Christians, one and all, Rejoice”–M. Luther.]

The peace of God, which passes understanding, keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.  Amen.




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