The Holy Spirit’s Troublemaking. Holy Pentecost Sermon 2013
St. Peter Lutheran Church
St. John 14:23-31
May 19, 2013
The Holy Spirit’s Troublemaking
This week another pastor told me: “You risk being called a troublemaker.”
I know what you’re thinking. “He must have gotten Hess mixed up with someone else!”
I had a bad couple of days after that. It’s not good to make trouble because of your pride or because you always have to be right. There are six things that the Lord hates, says the Holy Spirit in Proverbs, chapter 6: seven that are an abomination to Him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers. (Proverbs 6: 16-19)
It’s an abomination before the Lord to stir up trouble and fights among brothers. That’s the same word used by Moses to describe sodomy—homosexual behavior. An abomination. God hates it. It’s a grave sin to stir up strife, to be a troublemaker.
But there is a kind of “troublemaking” that I wish I did far more often. I wish that I would always be known as this kind of a troublemaker. And I wish that each one of you would also make a lot of this kind of trouble.
The Triune God and His servants have always been called “troublemakers” in this sense. The world calls God’s servants “troublemakers” because they undermine the false peace and false unity of the world. The world wants to be at peace and be left alone while it opposes and turns away from the true God, the Trinity.
But God loves the people in the world too much to allow them to have peace and quiet while they do everything they can to shut Him out, silence His Word, and avoid Him.
When the world is most religious and spiritual, when it is most moral, it is still completely opposed to God. At its most religious the world does not know God. At its most moral, it does not understand God’s wisdom but rejects it as foolishness.
At the tower of Babel, human beings were all united. They all worked together at one thing. They decided to build a tower into heaven and “make a name for themselves.” God’s name is how we have access to God. He gives us His name and reveals Himself to us so that we can “call upon Him in every trouble, pray, praise, and give thanks.” But the people of the world tried to come up with their own name, their own way to access God, which made sense to them.
They may have thought that they were doing a very holy and religious and moral thing. Yet they were fighting God. His Word had been, “Go spread out and fill the earth.” But that didn’t make sense to them. Maybe they thought, “We can do more good works if we stick together.” Maybe they even thought that they would atone for the sins of Adam by building this tower. Maybe they thought this impressive work of theirs would bring honor and glory to God.
Whatever they thought, they were still hostile to God, because they did not keep His Word.
So God made trouble for them.
He made trouble for them because He loved them and wanted to save them. But that still meant that He had to cause them trouble so that they weren’t able to carry out their plan. Whether they realized it or not they were trying to storm heaven and replace the true God and make a name for themselves.
The disciples thought Jesus should do the same thing
They couldn’t comprehend why Jesus was not going to make a name for Himself. Surely if Jesus showed His glory to the world and not just to this little ragtag band of disciples, the world would love Him and honor Him and believe in Him.
But Jesus refused to do what the disciples thought He should do. They were thinking according to the wisdom of the world, according to their flesh. If Jesus would just show His power and glory to the world, everyone would follow Him! He would rule the world!
And that is just what you want from Jesus, too: to make Himself a great name and show His glory. Or if He doesn’t do that, we constantly think that it is the job of the church to make a name for itself so that everyone wants to join.
But Jesus doesn’t do that. He upsets the order of the world. Even His disciples are disappointed.
Jesus is not going to overwhelm the world with shows of His power. Nor does He want His disciples, His Church, to win the world over with human talent or ingenuity.
He says If anyone loves Me, He will keep My word, and the Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our abode with him. (John 14:23)
The ones who will see Jesus’ glory are those who keep His Word, which the disciples will proclaim. To “keep” Jesus’ word does not mean first and foremost to do things. It means to believe His Word, hold on to it, learn it, meditate on it, and seek to live according to it. It means when we fail to do what Christ says that we repent, believe in His forgiveness, and turn and ask His help to walk in the way He has chosen. This results in good works, but not necessarily the good works that the world recognizes as good.
The world can’t accept the wisdom of God, the words of Jesus, the witness of the Holy Spirit. We have not received the Spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit…The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned (1 Cor. 2:12-14).
That is how Jesus wants to reveal Himself to the world. That is the way He wants to establish His Kingdom—build His church. By ascending to the Father and by having His disciples proclaim His Word.
No one would imagine that preaching would cause much trouble. Oh, but it did! Oh, but it still does!
When Jesus rode into Jerusalem, the chief priests who opposed Jesus were tearing their hair out, saying, We are accomplishing nothing! Look, the whole world has gone after Him!
When the disciples proclaimed Christ after His ascension, it started making trouble. At Pentecost a lot of people made fun of them and said they were drunk. But just a few chapters later the chief priests arrested the disciples and told them no longer to preach Christ. Just because they preached Jesus who died on the cross, rose from the dead, and ascended into heaven, they were considered troublemakers—such troublemakers that zealous, religious Jews like Paul travelled around the middle east finding Christian preachers to arrest and put to death.
Later on, when Paul preached Christ, whole cities were thrown into an uproar more than once. In Thessalonica, the Jews dragged Paul in front of the authorities and said These men who have turned the world upside down have come here also!
How did the disciples turn the world upside down? Just by preaching Jesus. And Paul’s preaching was criticized even by Christians. He mentions that more than once in his letters to the Corinthian Christians—that they said he wasn’t much of a speaker. And Paul explains why: I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified, and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and power, that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God. (1 Cor. 2:2, 4-5)
The disciples had a difficult time accepting this, that Jesus would not reveal Himself to the world except through His Word. And that He would be rejected, die, rise, ascend, and then send them out with His Word, which would also cause them to be rejected. That they would be cast out as troublemakers.
But Jesus doesn’t really cause trouble. He only causes trouble to the ruler of this world, the devil, and those who belong to him and want to keep things the way they are.
The devil attacks Jesus and then the disciples and then those who keep His Word—His true Church. But all the church does is preach Jesus. But the devil knows that this word is the power of God and it destroys his kingdom.
The old evil foe, now means deadly woe
Deep guile and great might, are His dread arms in fight
On earth is not His equal.
This world’s prince may still
Scowl fierce as he will
He can harm us none; He’s judged, the deed is done.
One little word can fell him.
So he responds with power. We understand the devil’s ways quite well, because it is what comes naturally to us also.
But Jesus is no troublemaker, and neither is His church.
He gives peace.
He and the Father make their abode with those who keep His word (like He prepares an abode for us in His Father’s house –John 14:1f.)
He gives His Spirit to the Church, to lead into truth, to comfort, to make them preach not with their own wisdom but by God’s spirit
The devil “has nothing on Jesus” nor on us because of His Word; we endure his attacks so that the world may see that Jesus is the savior and the Lord and the judge
“Not as the world gives do I give you.” How the world gives; how Jesus gives. What HE gives—abiding peace, His spirit of comfort and truth.
Today He troubles the waters of baptism and gives everlasting life to C. O Holy Spirit, make holy trouble among us,
So that we abide in your peace
So that the name of the Triune God is glorified through the preaching of His Word.
The peace of God, which passes understanding, keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.