Summary: A look at the challenge of Pentecost for us as Christians today
A few jokes to start us off! What’s the difference between a TV and a newspaper? Ever tried swatting a fly with a TV? What’s the difference between a new husband and a new dog? After a year, the dog is still excited to see you. What’s the difference between a “dead” Christian and a “dry”one? A dead Christian is like a statue that never moves so birds can build their nest. But a dry Christian is like dry wood, it easily catches on fire. Even though they have dry prayers and dry worship all it takes is one spark of the Holy Spirit to set them on fire for God. That is all it took to set the believers left behind after Jesus ascension on fire. For 7 weeks the followers of Jesus had been hibernating. In fear of the Jews, even after the resurrection of Jesus they were still meeting in secret. Then Jesus left them, just like that, ascended before their very eyes. They went back to Jerusalem, the the Upper Room WHAT WAS IT LIKE? Prayed, wrote a job description, prayed some more. Then suddenly, 9am the Day of Pentecost and whoosh the Holy Spirit suddenly and dramatically comes upon them. They find themselves out on the street. Jerusalem is packed and they are having to account for what was happening to them. Pentecost was known by several names: the “Feast of Harvest” (Exodus 23:16), the “Festival (or Feast) of Weeks” (Exodus 34:22; Deuteronomy 16:10), and the “day of the first fruits” (Numbers 28:26). Who knows how many were there in the city that day? Perhaps a million or more. It’s because attendance at Pentecost, was required for all good Jewish men. The whole holiday revolved around coming to God. Sacrifices and offerings were brought to Him. Jews met God in his city, on His terms. This was the ideal opportunity for the message of Jesus to be proclaimed and the church to be launched.
We need to be filled with the Spirit
What is very obvious is that God’s intention was that his people be filled with his Spirit. They were promised power, guidance, presence – that was God’s specific purpose. When you are full of the Spirit it makes a difference. You know when someone is excited about something, they are passionate about it, they are full of “it”. They talk about this “thing”, they are infectious. This is what we see here in Acts, not just at Pentecost. But we now have a people who can’t stop talking about Jesus, they are prepared to suffer, whatever the consequences they are telling others about Jesus. The Spirit’s power is transforming. This took place as it often does when believers were together. There is a need for us to be open to the Spirit, to invite him. Some of us quite simply need to be more filled with the Spirit than we already are. Try this personal checklist:
Acts 2:38 - It is a striking contrast is it not between the scene 7 weeks before. Peter denied even knowing Jesus (how many of us have let God down like that?), the disciples were hiding in fear of the Jews. Yet now they are declaing before crowds gathered in Jerusalem for the feast of Pentecost, the resurrection of Jesus & telling them they were guilty of killing the author of life. It doesn’t seem to have been there in the previous weeks. They seemed a little bemused. Now they are purposeful, men with a mission. We need more of the Spirit today. In a Max Lucado book there is a story of a lady who had a small house on the seashore of Ireland at the turn of the century was quite wealthy but also quite frugal. The people were surprised, then, when she decided to be among the first to have electricity in her home. Several weeks after the installation, a meter reader appeared at her door. He asked if her electricity was working well, and she assured him it was. "I’m wondering if you can explain something to me," he said. "Your meter shows scarcely any usage. Are you using your power?" "Certainly," she answered. "Each evening when the sun sets, I turn on my lights just long enough to light my candles; then I turn them off."