Summary: A Communion Meditation for Sunday, September 4, 2005
One of the most important ways that the Bible can come alive to us is to be able to link events in the New Testament to events in the Old Testament. As we are able to do so (and a good cross-reference Bible helps) we are able to gain a fuller understanding of how Jesus Christ has fulfilled the Old Testament prophecies and how God infused Old Testament events and practices with the new meaning of the New Covenant. We see this when certain events take place in the New Testament during an Old Testament celebration or festival.
For example, the Crucifixion, which was an act of deliverance, took place during the Passover, which was a festival to remember another act of deliverance. This current passage of scripture, from which our main text for this morning comes from, is another example of this.
The Day of Pentecost takes place during the Festival of the Harvest, one of three major festivals the Israelites celebrated. It was a time of praise and thanksgiving to God for a good harvest.
In his comments on this verse, I Howard Marshall has stated, ‘in Judaism the festival was also associated with the renewal of covenant made with Noah and then with Moses.’ ‘In second century Judaism,’ he goes on to say, ‘Pentecost was regarded as the day when the law was given at Sinai.’ In other words, this festival marks the re-commitment vows between God and His people as well as celebrates the day when God gave the first covenant to Moses on Mt Sinai.
Now, God is going to use this Festival, which would draw people back to Jerusalem from all over the known world, to send His Holy Spirit in an unmistakable and dramatic way, to begin the mission and ministry of what we now call the Church and, in a larger sense, the Christian faith.
This morning I want us to think about the phrase ‘seven weeks after the Resurrection.’ Do you remember seven weeks ago? Seven weeks ago today was Sunday, July 17th. Do you remember what you were doing?
Henry Farr was here and shared with us. I was wrapping up vacation, and was with my mom at her church (and here she is today with us!)
7 weeks from today is October 23rd. What will have taken place in your life by then?
Well, from looking at my calendar, Y soccer season will be over. Jonathon will have celebrated his 10th birthday the day before. Apple Festival will have taken place. Our state General Assembly in Indianapolis will have occurred.
At least, if all continues as is, those events will take place. But, we don’t know if life will continue as is, do we? We are aware of this reality as we continue to process the overwhelming images of New Orleans and the surrounding area. 7 weeks ago no one dreamed that they would be displaced and living a nightmare existence.
7 weeks earlier, there were those who wondered what was going to happen next after Jesus’ death and burial. I just wonder if Passover meant anything to them that Saturday evening.
Their certain belief that Jesus was the Messiah, who had come to deliver them, just as God had done in Egypt, had been dealt a sharp, sharp blow the day before. Where was God? What, if anything, was He doing?
Then Easter Sunday, Resurrection Day came! ‘Jesus was alive!’ ‘Jesus was back!’
And so for the next six or so weeks Jesus appeared and re-appeared to the remaining disciples as we read in Acts 1:3 ‘During the forty days after his crucifixion, he appeared to the apostles from time to time and proved to them in many ways that he was actually alive. On these occasions he talked to them about the Kingdom of God.’
Jesus also goes on to say in verses 4 and 5 of Acts 1, “Do not leave Jerusalem until the Father sends you what he promised. Remember, I have told you about this before. John baptized with water, but in just a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”
10 days later, that takes place and the church and the Christian faith begins to spread, a movement, despite all sorts of obstacles over the centuries, that continues to this day because of the power that was released by God in that upper room. Seven weeks later, a profound change that dramatically alters the lives of those who experienced it, God moves and the rest, as we say, ‘is history.’
This fall, we are going to walk through the book of Acts and see how Jesus’ order, as recorded in Acts 1:8, ‘But when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, you will receive power and will tell people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth’ is put into action.