“These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. 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” (John 14:25-26 ESV).
Jesus’ Ascension into heaven leaves the disciples huddled together, confused, and alone for 10 days. After all, even now, the Ascension feels kind of strange and bittersweet. Jesus, triumphantly returned from the grave, with still so much to teach us (because we always have so much to learn), returns to the Father and absents Himself from us, at least in a tangible way. The disciples can no longer see Him, touch Him, eat with Him, talk with Him, weep with Him and laugh with Him as they were used to doing. We who are separated by so much time from Jesus’ life on earth have never seen, heard or touched Him in the flesh in the way that the disciples were privileged to do.
Jesus seems far away, with the Father, hidden away from us. After all, we cannot have the same experience of having Him physically right next to us the way the disciples did. When our loved one dies, we cannot see that Jesus weeps with us. We cannot reach out and be physically held in His loving arms. When we sin and fail, Jesus isn’t there to speak directly to us with words of guidance, forgiveness and comfort. As we celebrate life’s little victories, Jesus is not there to eat the feast with us. It can become easy to see Jesus as far away and uninterested, and to therefore cease to feel we need Him, anyway. “Who needs an ascended Lord,” we snark. “Who wouldn’t rather have one in the flesh, walking right alongside of you? Where is Jesus when you need Him?”
Ah, but that’s where Jesus makes a promise and sends a gift. Right in that place where we’re huddled, like the disciples, feeling alone and confused, abandoned and unloved, waiting, waiting, waiting…into that place Jesus sends the Helper, the Paraclete. The Holy Spirit gifted to the disciples on that first Pentecost day with such high drama — tongues of fire and languages and thousands of Baptisms — continues to be gifted to us today. The Holy Spirit may not manifest Himself in such a dramatic fashion, rather He comes — as Helper, Teacher and Comforter — in sure and certain ways so that there may be no mistaking that we are not alone.
He comes in the waters of Holy Baptism as both gift and giver. Through the words spoken over us, the Holy Spirit is given to us in our Baptisms, and He gives us the gifts of eternal life and salvation, and of saving faith itself. Every day of our lives, the Holy Spirit tightens our fingers around that promise and gift, making us to cling to the promises given to us in our Baptisms even as we face moments of isolation, doubt, fear and even death. Through the Word of God, the Holy Spirit works repentance and sanctification, molding us into the image of God. He works through the Holy Supper to bring us the soul nourishing food of Christ’s Body and Blood with all the gifts of life, salvation and healing that come with it.
You see, Jesus sent us the Spirit so that we could all have Jesus more fully. We have Him in the flesh in His Holy Supper where we do feast with Him. We hear Him speak to us by the power of the Holy Spirit through His Word in the mouths of our pastors. We receive healing and comfort during our darkest days as the Holy Spirit consoles us through the Word and the Means of Grace. We even are able to lay our requests before the Lord Jesus, and when we no longer have words or the power to say them, the Holy Spirit intercedes on our behalf. All that He does, He does to bring us Jesus. Ascended? Certainly. Gone? Certainly not. Delivered to us with all His benefits and gifts? Yes, by the power of the Holy Spirit, our Helper, who always and continuously shows us Jesus for us and delivers Jesus to us. This Jesus is for all people in every time and every place. That is the gift and the miracle of Pentecost.
Let us pray using the words from a beloved Pentecost hymn:
Come Holy Ghost, God and Lord,
With all Your graces now out-poured
On each believer’s mind and heart
Your fervent love to them impart.
Lord, by the brightness of Your light
In holy faith Your Church unite
From ev’ry land and ev’ry tongue
This to Your praise O Lord, our God be sung.
(“Come Holy Ghost, God and Lord,” stz. 1, Lutheran Service Book 497).
- Last week, we wrapped up our final Easter Season in Song. Watch the final video and read the devotion.
- Pray for Christians throughout the world to be strengthened in their faith and comforted through the work of the Holy Spirit.
- Pray that the Holy Spirit’s work of conversion would continue in every place where the Gospel is preached.