Summary: The Holy Spirit is given to all who love Jesus Christ. This is a complex reading, but in a simplified form. How does God teach and empower us for his work with a real and lasting peace?

Acts 17:22-31 1 Peter 3:13-22 John 14:15-21 Psalm 66:7-18

This sermon was delivered to the congregation in Holy Trinity, in Ayr, Ayrshire, Scotland on the 21st May 2017: by Gordon McCulloch

(A Scottish Episcopal Church in the Dioceses of Glasgow and Dumfries).

Please join me in my prayer. Let the words on my mouth and the meditation of all our hearts be acceptable to you O Lord. Amen.


What a reading that was eh! There was a lot in there, so be warned, this should get interesting. … This morning we have the apostle John no less, introducing the Holy Spirit … and as you know, any topic on the Holy Spirit is extremely difficult and full of reverence. … It is also controversial, and I personally believe that no-one on this earth can grasp the totality of the living Godhead as you will soon hear. …

And this is why many preachers, when given these verses, cop out of these verses and focus solely on the simpler verse 15, which in a strange way, follows on from my last sermon on “Doubting Tomas”. …

So we will start with that verse 15 where Jesus said, ”If you love me, you will keep my commandments”. … I call this a cop out verse because this verse has produced many fire and brimstone sermons over the years, sermons that put the emphasis back on the congregation, … an emphasis designed to them feel like miserable sinners. …

How is this done may you ask, well by rearranging the logic so as to prove our love for Jesus, purely by how well we keep his commandments … and we all know how difficult that is. … And as I said last time, this is clearly Old Testament thinking, meaning that when we fail, when we sin, … then we are judged, … and then condemned, … and so, deserve to be sent to hell. …

You have no idea how many sermons that I have been delivered on this verse alone, and it is so wrong on so many levels. We are reading this verse from the New Testament … not the Old, because the old it has been destroyed by the death and resurrection of Jesus. ... We are now only interested in a New Testament, a testament full of life and grace … a testament free from the condemnation of the law of sin and death that the Law produces.

I am serious here, if we fall for that Old Testament Law, that type of logic, we will suffer undeservedly, …and we will put ourselves in chains, purely by our own thoughts. … No, this verse was written by John, the apostle whom Jesus loved, the apostle closest to Jesus … an apostle who promoted of grace and life, … so this verse therefore has an entirely different meaning. …

Jesus is implying that the disciples do love him … and because they love him, they will do their very best to keep his commandments. … And that is exactly how a loving relationships works, … when we love someone we’re glad to do what pleases them, … or what helps them, … and we know that the disciples truly wanted to help Jesus … but like us, they lacked the power and the knowhow.

Our readings this morning, takes place at the last supper, directly after Judas has been brought into the open, and this is where Jesus tells the disciples that his hour has come, and that he must die.

And as you would expect, the disciples are not too happy about this, but this is where Jesus imparts his final instructions on how to live without him, and one of those final instructions is verse 15, … ”If you love me, you will keep my commandments”, … Now, I am sorry to say, this verse would not be enough for me, and it was certainly not enough for the disciples either.

In fact I think it is a horrible thing to say to someone, … because it gives them nothing tangible to work with, … and it is sort of like a test, … where they know before they start that they are all going to fail; …and mixing that with my last sermon where it was implied that they were not believing hard enough, then they were absolutely sure they were condemned to failure, … yet, we know that is not what happened.

Up until this point, the disciples had done everything with Jesus, or at his command; Jesus guided them … he taught them, and he corrected them on a regular basis. … Soon he will be gone, and they will be on their own with these instructions to carry out the work Jesus has started. … So these disciples must have been feeling rather low, because they knew that if Jesus couldn’t do it without being crucified … what chance would they?

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