Summary: A sermon for Pentecost.
“Fifty Days after Easter, at Nine O’clock in the Morning…”
Sometimes there are names that are so attached to a particular product or something else that people might forget where the name originally came from.
For instance, how often do you ask for a tissue by saying, “Can I have a Kleenex?”
Kleenex is a particular brand of tissue, but not all tissue is Kleenex.
Or what about bandage strips?
We call them band-aids.
Some people say they are going to have a “Coke” when in reality they may be reaching for a Pepsi or a Sprite or a Mountain Dew.
Something similar has happened with the word “Pentecost.”
If the word “Pentecost” means anything to many people today, it probably has something to do with “Pentecostals.”
And if the word “Pentecostals” means anything to many folks, it might mean the type of Christians who wave their arms, and perhaps run up and down the aisles, and speak in tongues.
In the same sense that Kleenex derives its meaning from all facial tissue, we might forget that all Christians, not only those who call themselves Pentecostals; derive their meaning from the first Pentecost.
And we may forget, as well, just what “Pentecost” itself originally was and meant.
For a first-century Jew, Pentecost was the 50th day after Passover.
Passover was the time when lambs were sacrificed, and the Israelites were saved by putting the blood of the lamb on the doorposts of their homes.
And then that very night the Israelites passed through the Red Sea, escaping from Egyptian captivity.
Then, 50 days after Passover, the Israelites came to Mount Sinai, where Moses was given the Law.
This is what the festival of Pentecost signified.
It was about God giving God’s redeemed people the way of life by which they were to carry out God’s purposes.
Of course, Jesus was Crucified during the festival of Passover.
And 40 days later, Jesus ascended back to heaven, promising to send the Holy Spirit upon His waiting disciples.
10 days after that, during the Festival of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit came upon those who believed.
If we look closely at the way the Jews told the story of the giving of the Law on Mount Sinai, we can see some parallels to what happened on the birthday of the Church.
At Mount Sinai, Moses went up the mountain, and then came down again with the Law.
Now, Jesus has gone up into heaven and He is coming down again, not with a written Law carved on tablets of stone, but with the dynamic energy of the Law, designed to be written on human hearts!!!
And that is what happens when people receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
To all Who call on the name of Jesus to be saved, to all who follow Him, to all who trust in Him—the Holy Spirit comes alighting on each person beginning the process of making us into a new creation, modeled after our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!!!
Is that exciting stuff or what?
It’s been said that Pentecost is the “big bang” event that creates the Christian Church and puts God’s saving acts through Jesus Christ into motion!!!
It also explains how a small group of frightened, puzzled and largely uneducated men and women could so quickly become a force to be reckoned with—right across the known world!!!
Through the power of the Holy Spirit the Church is born and is given the authority to proclaim the Gospel of the Risen Christ to the very same people who had Him put to death!!!
And Peter, the disciple who publicly denied even knowing Jesus just 50 days earlier becomes the first mouthpiece of Christianity, as he raises his voice and preaches the first Christian sermon…
…a sermon which results in “about three thousand people” being saved and brought into the Church on that very first day!!!
What are we to make of this?
What do you make of this?
We are told that “When Pentecost Day arrived,” the apostles were all together in one place.
When “Suddenly, a sound from heaven like the howling of a fierce wind filled the entire house where they were sitting.
They saw what seemed to be individual flames of fire alighting on each one of them.
They were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages as the Spirit enabled them to speak.”
And, “There were pious Jews from every nation under heaven living in Jerusalem.
When they heard this sound, a crowd gathered.
They were mystified because everyone head them speaking in their native languages.”
What language would the people listening have expected to hear?
At that time, all around the Mediterranean world, everybody’s second language was Greek.
Greek had become, to much of that world, what English is for many people in the world today.