Banzai by Kamikaze
The Japanese words Banzai' and Kamikaze' have a negative, even fearful connotation to us. The first is what the Japanese soldier cried when on the attack in WW II. The second is the name for the first suicide bombers; their weapon of choice being an airplane. The actual meaning of these foreign words is quite different than what we've come to know them for. I'm hoping the meaning of foreign words can make familiar the reality of this Day of Pentecost.
"Banzai" literally means "May you live 10,000 years." Obviously, the Japanese soldier didn't wish this upon his enemy, but said it to rally his comrades. The Holy Spirit, however, does wish for you to have 10,000 years of life. He wishes an eternity of 10,000 years. And He starts by doing what no one wants: convicting you. He wants to convict you of the truth that you don't have one single day of real life on your own.
The first thing the Holy Spirit wants to do is to convict you of your real problem. Your real problem is not ISIS, political upheaval, health care or disease, taxes, people, family, employers or employees. Your real problem is sin. And not sins against others but against God. Real Psalm 51. When David sifts through his life to look at the adultery and murder he had committed, he doesn't say he sinned against Bathsheba who he seduced or Uriah who he has murdered. He says to the Lord, "Against Thee only have I sinned." It's the Lord Psalm 130 says in the De Profundis who could be marking our iniquities.
And what is the greatest sin of all? Unbelief which is exposed in the first 3 Commandments. Those deal with our relationship with God not man. They expose that we don't fear, love, or trust in God above all things. We misuse the holy Name of God that He gave us to call upon in every time of trouble as an exclamation. We don't believe we hear the Word in teaching and preaching for our sakes. No, we think we do it for God's sake.
The Holy Spirit convicts of us not having a day's worth of life let alone 10,000 years because we don't believe in Jesus. Or do you think God was lying when He promised Adam and Eve, "On the day you eat of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil you will surely die." Boom! On that day, they were dead men walking. Read Hebrews 11: if by faith kingdoms are conquered, righteousness done, promises obtained, then unbelief loses, does unrighteousness, and receives no promises.
May you live 10,000 years, and to get you on that path the Spirit must convict you of unbelief and of righteousness. If we just believed Isaiah when he says, "All our righteousness deeds are filthy rags," then we could hear rightly Jesus saying the Spirit convicts us in regard to righteousness "because I am going to the Father." You're not going to the Father, to heaven, unless you have the righteousness of Jesus. Remember when Jesus startles everyone saying, "Unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and scribes, you shall in no way enter the kingdom of heaven"?
If you meet your last day or the Last Day like the man invited to the king's wedding feast for his son who isn't wearing the wedding garment the king freely provided, what happened to him will happen to you. When the Lord asks, "Friend, how did you come in here without wedding clothes?" like that guest you will have no excuse, no reason. And the judgment on him will be on you. You will be bound and thrown into the outer darkness. Into that place where there is only weeping and gnashing of teeth.
No Banzai for you if you think apart from Jesus and His righteousness what you're doing now is living. And no 10,00 years apart from being convicted that the prince of this world stands condemned. All your sensory input tells you Satan is winning. Church membership and attendance is down. Church leaders, including our own, wring their hands over the declining numbers. The number of young people responding to the question of religious affiliation saying "none" is 30%. At the start of the First Gulf War, I was an Army Reserve chaplain. I filled out paperwork asking just that question. Some said "none", but they were few and far between.
Despite the decline of institutional Christianity, despite the unfaithfulness of it, the Spirit would convict you that Satan is judged; the deed is done. He acts like a prince, speaks like a prince, and is followed like a prince, but Satan, says Jesus, "has forever been condemned." To be convicted, of this takes nothing short of a miracle. Julian the Apostate who in his 20 months as Emperor persecuted Christians and tried to restore the worship of the Roman gods died on the battlefield in 363 A.D. Theodoret writing less than 70 years later says, "It is related that when Julian had received the wound, he filled his hand with blood, flung it into the air and cried, You have won, O Galilean" (Ecclesiastical History, III, 20, NPNF, III, 106).
This is Nebuchadnezzar, this is Darius, this is Pharaoh, this is the people of Nineveh. All of these were brought to the point, against their will, choice, decision and all observable fact, that those who go against God fail. And anyone who would have any real life at all either here or in eternity must be brought to this same conviction. And that takes the Holy Spirit.
The only way to Banzai is by Kamikaze. That's a compound Japanese word. Kami' means divine' and Kaze' means wind'. Kamikaze is divine wind." The word originally referred to the great gale that destroyed the ships of the invading Mongols in 1281. When we think of the Holy Spirit as wind, we don't think of Him substantially enough. C.S. Lewis said, "If we must have a mental picture to symbolize Spirit, we should represent it [sic] [recte Him] as something heavier than matter" (Miracles, 147). And the preaching of Christ, who He is and what He does, is the bearer and instrument of this weighty Spirit.
Jesus, the God who took on flesh and blood, is the only One never to give up the Faith. Even in the depths of Gethsemane bearing your sins of unbelief, bearing your sins against all the Commandments but especially the ones we all dismiss Commandments 1-3, He still called God Father. True on the cross when He is in deepest depths of hell He cried out, "My God" not "My Father" but having endured the last eternal pang of hell, He again called on His Father. "Father into your hands I commend My Spirit."
Though you and I are not for a second free of unbelief, though you and I are never free of even misbelief. Jesus was, and the Divine Wind, that is the Person of the Spirit blows into your life with that promise, that certainty. Living in Texas, you have to have had this experience. On a hot, still day, suddenly there is cool breeze. The Spirit through these Words comes like a freshening breeze saying: Don't focus on your faith; at its biggest and best it's no more than a mustard seed in size. Focus on Jesus' faith. Your little faith gives way in the face of the stormy seas that Jesus sleeps on in faith. Our little faith sinks beneath the waves that Jesus in faith walks on. No loving parents bases their relationship to their kids on how much or how little the kid can or does believe about the relationship. No, it's all determined by what Dad or Mom believe about it. Feel the breeze?
The Divine Wind that is the Holy Spirit blows into your life through these words. Though your righteousness can be nothing more than filthy rags, Jesus' righteousness is your beauty and your glorious dress. Go ahead and sing, because it's true, "I am all unrighteousness; false and full of sin I am." But don't stop singing "Jesus Lover of My Soul" there. Feel the blow, feel the gale, feel the Divine Wind that is somehow heavier than air, and go on singing, "Thou art full of truth and grace. Plenteous grace with Thee is found. Grace to cover all my sin."
Do you get the connection between righteousness, Jesus going to the Father, and the Divine Wind blowing into your life? Remember where this text starts: with the disciples "filled with grief" because Jesus is going to the Father. And Jesus admits "you can see Me no longer." And we too long for "Just a Closer Walk with Thee" and to be "In the Garden" with Jesus, but that's not the answer. Say Jesus did appear and walk and talk with you telling you that you are His own? That would be fine until He disappeared. Then what? You'd want Him back for another visit a month later, then a week later, then a day, then an hour, then forever. What you're really longing for is heaven on earth and that's not happening. What Jesus gives instead is you in heaven.
The Man Jesus has the holiness of doctrine and life to enter heaven. He takes water and baptizes you into Himself. You are now with Him in heaven. So says Paul, "You died and your life is now hidden with Christ." He gives you His Body and Blood in Communion. Heaven's gates open wide with welcome to the Body and Blood of Christ. Don't be troubled that you'll get to heaven and find them talking about your sins. Because whatsoever the mouth of a man forgives in Absolution is forgiven before God in heaven.
As Pig Pen lives under a perpetual cloud of dirt, we live under one of judgment. We need the Divine Wind of the Spirit to blow that dark cloud away. When Jesus first says that the Spirit will convict the world of judgment, we think, "Uh-oh" here it comes. But whose judgment does He speak of? The prince of this world. You want to talk judgment? Start there as Luther does. "Though devils all the world should fill, / All eager to devour us. / We tremble not, we fear no ill, / They shall not overpower us. / This world's prince may still/ Scowl fierce as he will.' He can harm us none, / He's judged; the deed is done;/ One little word can fell Him." And that Word brings the Divine Spirit blowing into your life.
When you parachute out of an airplane, if your chute gets directly over another's, it collapses and you fall on to his. If that happens you're to run off his chute and jump free so your chute or the emergency can inflate. Our sins, our lack of righteousness, and Satan's power deflate us. Jesus puts the Divine Wind back into our chute by preaching His forgiveness, His righteousness, and Satan's judgment. And up that Divine Wind lifts us to float for 10,000 times 10,000 years - and then some. Amen
Rev. Paul R. Harris
Trinity Lutheran Church, Austin, Texas
Day of Pentecost (20170604); John 16:5-11