Summary: Pentecost (B). Jewish Pentecost celebrated the giving of the law on Sinai, the God choosing Israel as His people. In the Pentecost of the Church we are assured that we too are chosen by God and live in His kingdom.
“Out of Many, One”
May the words of my mouth, and the meditations of our hearts, be acceptable in Thy sight,
O Lord, our Rock and our Redeemer. Amen.
“Out of Many, One”
Today is Pentecost. And most of us are familiar with the account of the events of that day. The disciples were gathered together in the Upper Room. Although the text does not specify, it is reasonably to understand that this was the same Upper Room where they meet with the Lord for Passover on Maundy Thursday, where He washed their feet, and gave them the supper of His body and blood. The same supper that we will partake of here today, in a few moments.
They had seen Jesus numerous time since His resurrection. They saw Him in this Upper Room on Easter, and there a week later with Thomas. And at the shore of the sea of Gallilee, and many other places. A week and a half ago they saw Jesus ascend into heaven. So now what do we do? They keep gathering together in this Upper Room.
Now this room was a large room. One Hundred Twenty where there. While we don’t know where it is exactly, there are two tradition locations in Israel, one in Jerusalem, one on the Mt of Olives, thought to be the place. The room in Jerusalem is quite large. It certainly could hold 120 people, especially considering that they were not as space conscious as we American are. Even throughout the world today, Americans want a lot of space, to spread out, or we feel crowded, even though we aren’t crowded at all.
So what happened there? There came a sound like a rushing mighty wind. And what looked like tongues of fire appeared on the heads of the Apostles. Jerusalem was full of people for the festival, and hearing the great wind, they came to see what was happening.
It was nine o’clock in the morning, and the Apostles began talking. And although there were people from everywhere, each of them heard in his own language. And they were amazed.
Wait? What did you say? Jerusalem was full of people for the festival? What festival? Pentecost. Our text begins, “When the day of Pentecost had fully come.” Now what is that talking about? Does the day of Pentecost mean the day of this wind, and fire, and languages? Not in the first place. Luke is telling us about miracles events that happened on Pentecost – the wind, the fire, and the languages, and more. And we call that Pentecost now. But before all of this occurred, Luke writes the day of Pentecost had come. So what was Pentecost? Pentecost was a Jewish festival, which God had commanded. God established the festival of Passover, the festival of Pentecost, and the Festival of Booths. You may have heard of the Festival of Booths, it’s just that in America we call it Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. That is in September. And it’s about gathering in the harvest in the fall.
And you know about Passover, and the sacrifice of the Lamb. So what is this Pentecost. Pentecost was 50 days after the Sunday after Passover. It was the festival of first fruits – that is the spring wheat harvest. We don’t plant wheat here early enough for it come in May, but the weather is warm there, so the first harvest of wheat would happen about now. And at this feast all Jews were to come to Jerusalem – that is why the city was full of so many people from so many places.
In addition to the wheat harvest, at this festival they would remember of the giving of the Torah, the 10 commandments to Moses on Mt. Sinai. What happened then? God told Moses to tell the Israelites, “you shall be my treasured people from all peoples, you will be a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.” And the Lord sent Moses to tell the people to sanctify themselves. On the third day these was thunder and lightning on the Mt, and then fire, for the Lord came down to the Mountain, and Moses went up to meet with the Lord. He warned Moses not to let the people, or even the priests, to come near the Mountain. Only Aaron, the high priest, and Moses, could go up the Mountain. And there the Lord established Israel has His people, “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt out of the house of bondage.”
That is what happened in the wilderness, at Mt. Sinai, many years ago. That was the event that the Jews were remembering on Pentecost. How God choose them out of all people, and made a covenant with them. What then happens on this day, on Pentecost?