Strong Divine Comfort from Heaven

Easter 6 Tuesday

John 14:16

“And I will ask the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, to be with you forever.”

 

Christ says all this to increase the comfort of his dear Christians lest they be overly frightened or despondent on account of what they were to encounter after his bodily departure. After all, he sufficiently demonstrates how they would fare at that time: They are placed on earth to suffer much at the hands not only of the world – it will hate and persecute them and cause them all kinds of heartache – but also of the devil and of their own heart and conscience so that they feel their own sin and weakness. At all times will they be miserable and forsaken in the world. Nowhere will they find any comfort. They would have to despair on account of the world and themselves if they were not specially preserved by strong divine comfort from heaven. The world lives freely and securely in luxury, without fear and fright; it considers neither God’s wrath nor God’s grace; and it is always at ease. It needs no comfort. But this poor little flock, called and baptized to believe in Christ and to remain with him – they very much need a Comforter who strengthens and preserves them so that they are able to endure and tolerate this. “Therefore,” says he, “since I now leave you and am no longer able to remain with you in a visible manner and since now the time of your suffering will begin, I will not abandon you that you should be forsaken and without comfort. Until now, you have had your joy and comfort in me, but that was only a temporal and bodily comfort that had to end one day. For I cannot forever remain with you in this way if I am to enter my glory and spread my kingdom through you. So that all this may take place soon, I must die and ascend into heaven and leave you behind. But you are not to be forsaken on this account, but you are to have the comfort that I will ask the Father and provide you another Comforter. He will not be with you like me, only for a time; he will be with you forever, comforting you more powerfully than I did by my physical presence. And this is to begin soon after my dying and rising and is not to end until I take you to myself.” This is how Christ now begins to preach about the Holy Spirit who was to be given to Christendom and by whom it was to be preserved until the Last Day. We should note here especially how the Lord Christ speaks kindly and comfortingly for all poor, saddened hearts and for all fearful, timid consciences, showing us how to recognize the Holy Spirit properly and how to experience his comfort. For he hereby looks disapprovingly at everything that wants to frighten and grieve Christians to cause them to despair, as if he wanted to say: “I know well that the world, the devil, and your own conscience will frighten and harass you, but be undismayed. For you should know, in contrast, that I will not frighten or grieve you, and my Father also does not want to do this. He who frightens you, though he may use my name or my Father’s name, is certainly the devil.” … This is why we must get to know and believe the Holy Spirit in the way Christ depicts and describes him to us, namely, that he is not a spirit of wrath and terror, but a Spirit of grace and comfort. In this way, the entire divinity shows us nothing but comfort: The Father wants to comfort us, because he gives us the Holy Spirit. The Son comforts us, because he asks for that Spirit. And the Holy Spirit himself is to be that Comforter. This is why there is here no wrath, threatening, or frightening of Christians, but nothing but friendly laughter and sweet comfort in heaven and on earth. Why? “Because,” he wants to say, “you already have enough hangmen and jailers that frighten and harass you because you preach and confess me. … I will not give you more of those. And I will also not ask for more of those. I will ask instead for an antidote against those, for an eternal Comforter, the Holy Spirit himself, who is able to strengthen and help you in all your grief, fear, and distress so that you overcome it and are redeemed from it.”

 

St. Louis ed., 8:387-390.

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