As we try to listen deeply now to the Scripture lessons and draw from them guidance for our everyday life, I think it’s important, especially from the Gospel, to hear Jesus telling us, “I’ve told you all this while I was still with you.” Remember again, he’s in conversation with his disciples the night before he dies. But then he says, “From now on, the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom God will send in my name, will continue to teach you all things and remind you of what I have told you.”
We’ve heard that before, and I think probably we don’t really give enough attention to this promise of Jesus, that he’s going to send his Holy Spirit to be with us, to guide us. But when you think about it, it’s really important that he do that because if you notice in the Scriptures, Jesus doesn’t give the disciples any blueprint about how to follow up on his teachings. He doesn’t tell them how to establish a church, what they are to do.
All he says is, “You’ve received the Holy Spirit. Go and proclaim the good news to all the nations.” He’s telling them, “Go out and preach the good news that I’ve been teaching you.” But there will be times when they will need special guidance. Of course, one of those times came very early in the church. It’s what we heard about in the first lesson today. The apostle Paul and Barnabas had made a missionary journey into Asia Minor, where would be Turkey, Syria — those countries, and they had great success.
In town after town they went into the synagogues, they preached about Jesus, and people wanted to be baptized, wanted to become followers of Jesus. These were Gentiles. Back in Jerusalem where the church first began to function, all the disciples of Jesus who became his followers — the Christian church, were Jews, and they still followed the Jewish practices. Now Paul and Barnabas were going out and saying, “That’s not necessary any longer. You don’t have to be circumcised. You don’t have to follow the 613 laws of the Jewish covenant. You’re free of that. You’re followers of Jesus.”...