By the Word of God and the Work of the Spirit

Between His institution of His Holy Supper and His agony in the Garden of Gethsemane – on the night when He was handed over by the Father to His voluntary suffering and death upon the Cross – our Lord Jesus Christ catechized His disciples in what He was about to accomplish and in preparation for the ongoing life of His Church in the light of His Cross and Resurrection. At that point, even after the several years they had already spent with Him, all of the disciples were anxious, confused, and dismayed; which is of some comfort and encouragement to all of us, who are often enough besieged and beleaguered with doubts and fears and uncertainties of our own.

The comfort and consolation for the disciples then, and so also for us in our own day, even to the close of the age, are the Word and Spirit of God in Christ Jesus. When asked, “Lord, how is it that You will manifest yourself to us, and not to the world?” (St. John 14:22), Jesus pointed to His Word, which He speaks from the Father, and to the work of the Holy Spirit, sent by the Father in the Name of Jesus to teach the disciples all things on the basis of the Word He has spoken. This is the Word and Work of God that bestows Peace to our hearts and minds in this troubled world; for thus does the Spirit lay Christ upon our hearts through the Gospel, unto faith and life in Him.

When Jesus then goes on to speak of Himself as the true Vine in whom the branches abide and bear good fruits, He is not directing His disciples to some kind of emotional exercise, but to His Word and to the Work of the Holy Spirit in the Means of Grace and the Ministry of the Gospel. That is where and how the Lord Jesus manifests Himself to us and makes Himself known to us, that we might know and love the Father in Him, and that we should be comforted by the Spirit unto faith and life and peace and joy. “These things I have spoken to you,” Jesus says, “that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full” (St. John 15:11).

Especially as those who are given to preach and teach the Word of God, to comfort, counsel, and console His children with His Gospel, it is essential that we also avail ourselves of His Word and the work of His Spirit. For we are not able to bear the good fruits of His Ministry in our callings and stations, as pastors, if we are not hearing what Jesus says and receiving what He gives. And with that in mind, let us give thanks that He is so patient and long-suffering, compassionate and kind, and continues to call us to Himself by His Word and by the working of His Holy Spirit.