Summary: This sermons addresses what Jesus teaches about the key to ministry: the Holy Spirit
A Visible Presence
Ray Pritchard tells of doing a TV interview with David Mains about his book, “Names of the Holy Spirit.” Everything had gone well until David caught him off guard with this question: “If you had to grade your congregation on their knowledge of the Holy Spirit, what grade would you give them?” I didn't see that one coming. Suddenly I was at a loss for words. But the one thing you can’t do on TV is say nothing. The camera hates dead air. So I blurted out my answer: I would give my congregation a C+ on the knowledge of the Holy Spirit.” It seemed safe to me, not too high, not too low. Evidently I sounded like the proverbial hard-nosed teacher because David looked at me with a frown. So I quickly said: “Look, if you graded my congregation on their knowledge of God the Father, I would give them an A, and on Jesus Christ, I would give them an A+. But I don’t think we know as much about the Holy Spirit as we do about the Father and the Son.” David Mains smiled and said, “That’s fair,” so I knew I was off the hook. Sort of. As I did other interviews for that book, I discovered that the first question was always the same. "Why don't we know more about the Holy Spirit?...He’s the God we hardly know. We know about the Trinity even if we can’t explain it. But most of us would be hard pressed to pass a mid-term exam on the Person and work of the Holy Spirit.”
Our Scripture today falls in Jesus’ Last Discourse. It marks a decided shift in Jesus’ ministry from teaching and ministering to the masses to a focus on Jesus’ inner circle of disciples as Jesus realizes the cross is fast approaching. Thus, he turns to the disciples to prepare them to for his departure and to carry on his ministry. In this teaching time, Jesus announces his coming crucifixion to the disciples, teaches them about servanthood through the washing of the their feet, speaks about the intimacy and relationship Jesus has to the Father and through him, the disciples will have as well. And finally, Jesus teaches about the key to ministry: the Holy Spirit.
So what do we learn from Jesus about the Holy Spirit today? First, the Holy Spirit reveals the Truth. Almost 2,000 years ago, a Roman governor chose to ask a profound question of a man who was about to be executed. "What is truth?" he asked. Most people ponder that question at some time in their lives, especially at critical points when they are struggling with the meaning of life. After all, the need for meaning is a basic human need, and there can be no meaning without some ultimate truth. It is in the midst of this search that God reveals the Truth through His Holy Spirit. The first is through His Word, the Bible, which is God's message to us. Phrases like "And God said..." occur about 3800 times in the Old Testament alone. The Bible defines itself as the Word of God and consistently claims divine authorship. It claims to be the authoritative, inspired Word of God and presentation of ultimate truth. The Bible doesn't just talk about God, in its pages God speaks Himself and reveals the Truth about himself.