(John 14: 8-17, 25-27)


Back in the late 60s Janis Joplin had a hit song entitled: Oh Lord, Won’t You Buy Me a Mercedes Benz.  In it she asks: Oh Lord, won’t you buy me a Mercedes Benz?  My friends all drive Porches, I must make amends.  Worked hard all my lifetime, no help from my friends, So, oh, Lord, won’t you buy me a Mercedes Benz?  In the second verse she asks: Oh Lord, won’t you buy me a color TV?  Dialing for Dollars is trying to find me.  I wait for delivery each day until three.  So, oh, Lord, won’t you buy me a color TV?  In verse three she asks: Oh, Lord, won’t you buy me a night on the town?  I’m counting on you Lord, please don’t let me down.  Prove that you love me and buy the next round.  Oh, Lord, won’t you buy me a night on the town?  I really liked Janis and she had quite a set of pipes on her singing from a deep place way down within herself.  But she didn’t get it.  She ran out of time.  She died hard and way too young.  She grew up in Port Arthur, Texas in the 1950s and 60s so I’m pretty sure she had heard something about Jesus and the gift of the Holy Spirit but tragically I believe she died without knowing the Spirit as a companion who would lead and guide her through those darkest of valleys.


And it’s the knowing and receiving of the Holy Spirit that the Apostle John is writing about in our scripture reading for this morning.  Jesus is preparing his disciples for his departure.  Things are about to get complicated as he is rapidly nearing his date with his crucifixion.  In the first few verses of Chapter 14 he tells his disciples not to be troubled, to trust in God, and to also trust in him.  He tells them that his Father’s house has room to spare and if that wasn’t the case, he wouldn’t have told them that he was going there to prepare a place for them.  He assures them that after he has prepared for them a place that he will return for them, and he says: You know the way to the place I’m going.  At this point, Thomas asks: Lord, we don’t know where you are going.  How can we know the way?  Jesus answered: I am the way, the truth, and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me.  If you have really known me, you will also know the Father.  From now on you know him and have seen him.  At this point Philip, who still doesn’t get it, blurts out: Lord, show us the Father; that will be enough for us.  You can just see Jesus standing there, mouth agape, wondering to himself if they’ve even been paying attention the last three years.  Afterall, his whole life and ministry has been a showing of the Father through the Son.  Surely, they have to know he is the way.  Jesus patiently responds:  Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been with you all this time?  Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.  How can you say, “Show us the Father?”  Don’t you believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me?  The words I have spoken to you I don’t speak on my own.  The Father who dwells in me does his works.  Jesus tells his disciples to trust him when he says that he is in the Father and that the Father is in him, or at least believe on account of the works themselves.  He assures them that whoever believes in him will do the works that he does.  In fact, he tells them that they will do even greater works than these because he is going to the Father.    He tells them that he will do whatever they ask for in his name, so that the Father can be glorified in the Son.  He says: When you ask me for anything in my name, I will do it.


Wow!   How can Jesus claim that those who believe in him will do even greater works than he has performed?  I mean, look at his miracles.  He turned water into wine, healed the lame, restored sight to the blind, cast out demons, and raised the dead.  That’s a tough act to follow.  I wonder why Janis didn’t get that new Mercedes, that color TV, and that night on the town?  Afterall, she did call upon the Lord.  Well, first, Jesus goes to the Father on our behalf who will hear and grant the requests of those who ask in his name.  But it’s not about “getting whatever you want” from Jesus.  The requests are to be made in Jesus’ name, you know, by his power and in accordance with his will, and are predicated on abiding in Jesus, which involves obeying him, and are for the glory of the Father.  Those praying in this way pray not for new cars or material blessings, but for faithfulness and fruit in carrying out God’s will.  Jesus is again the model for what he teaches.  The Father responds to his Son’s petitions, but his Son’s petitions are always in accord with the will of the Father and are in service to others.


The second reason the disciples will do greater works than Jesus is the introduction to them of the Holy Spirit.  He tells them that if they love him, they will keep his commandments and that he will ask the Father to send them another companion who will be with them forever.  He says: This Companion is the Spirit of Truth, who the world can’t receive because it neither sees him nor recognizes him.  You know him, because he lives with you and will be with you.  The Father, Jesus explains, will give us a companion, an advocate, a helper, a comforter who will be with us during the good times and the bad to guide and lead us through our darkest valleys.  This companion will help us to discern God’s will enabling us to do God’s work producing the kind of fruit that cause people to praise his name.  Jesus refers to the Holy Spirit as the Spirit of Truth.  This title shows the Spirit’s connection with Christ, who has just been described as the truth and gives an indication of the Spirit’s future role in the believer’s life.  The Spirit is a teacher who will reveal truth to those who believe and actively listen.  The Spirit will teach us everything and will cause us to remember Jesus’ words making everything clear and understandable.  The Spirit will help us find our place in God’s service giving us the tools to literally perform miracles, things people didn’t think were possible.  The Spirit will lead us in being those “somebodies who do something in Jesus’ name.”


God’s poor lost and confused child Janis did not understand that God will not grant requests contrary to his nature or his will, and that she could not use his name as a magic wand to fulfill some selfish desire like a new car, a color TV, or a night on the town.  And here’s the point.  If we are sincerely following God and seeking to do his will, then our requests will be in line with what He wants, and He will grant them.  The gift of the Holy Spirit, our Companion, is the very presence of God within us and all believers, helping us to live as God wants and building Christ’s church here on earth.  By faith we can appropriate the Spirit’s power each and every day.  And the end result of the Holy Spirit’s work in our lives is a deep and lasting peace knowing that we’ve done our best and that the world, even our small corner of it, is a better place for our neighbors who are loved and cherished by God, our God, their God.


Jesus said to his disciples: Peace I leave with you.  My peace I give you.  I give to you not as the world gives.  Don’t be troubled or afraid.  The peace the world gives is actually the absence of conflict, conflict that is always right around the next curve.  The peace of God moves into our hearts and lives to restrain what troubles us and offers comfort in place of conflict.


We are blessed in what we know by faith, what Janis did not learn in her short and tragic life.  We know that we can work hard all of our lifetime but in doing so we will receive help from our friends, and from our friend and Companion, the Holy Spirit, and that we will not be troubled or afraid because of the peace we have in Jesus Christ and knowing that our future is secure, that a room awaits us when our work in producing righteous fruit is done.


Let us pray.


Gracious and loving Father, there’s within my heart a melody Jesus whispers sweet and low: Fear not, I am with thee, peace, be still, in all of life’s ebb and flow.  How we praise you for your gift to us of the Holy Spirit, our Companion who is there to guide us and teach us your ways.  We thank you for the Spirit of Truth that will never fail us bringing us peace and comfort during those times others are experiencing conflict.  Move us through the Spirit to ask for those things that accomplish what it is that you would have us do for others, for our neighbors, and not for ourselves.  And when we pray may we pray for those things that deepen our faithfulness and bear fruit as we work to carry out your will.  Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, sweetest name we know, fills our ever longing, keeps us singing as we go.  In Jesus’ name, we pray, Amen.