Summary: The power that enabled the Apostles to change the world. A Sermon for Pentecost
I thought I was going to be late for the Service this morning. As I was travelling from Motcombe to Church I saw someone in the distance pushing his car, so I pulled up and said to him, "Are you having trouble?"........... "No!" he said, and continued pushing his car. "Well, can I give you hand with pushing your car" I said, a bit reluctantly thinking of my bad back. "It`s very kind of you but I`m fine, really I am. I`m quite used to pushing on my own. Do it everyday." he said, and continued pushing.
I tried again!. "Have you run out of GAS?", I asked. "Gas?" he said, "What`s GAS?". I gulped, and said, "GAS is what you put in the tank Then you sit in the driver`s seat, switch on the ignition, put the car into gear, and drive off". It was just like talking to a 6 year old. He looked at me bemused, and then he said: "I`ve been pushing this car ever since I bought it. It`s my first car. No-one`s ever told me about gas before...... you know I wondered why everyone else seemed to be going so easily, and yet when when I sat in the driver`s seat NOTHING HAPPENED"..... so I helped to push his car to a garage, he filled up with gas - and off down the road he went like a rocket". A few minutes later he came back. "Thank you" he said, "Thank you for telling me about gas. It makes such a difference doesn`t it!".
Well, of course, in one way that story is completely untrue, I made it up....... and yet in another way it`s a story that`s happening continually day by day. Have you ever wondered why so many people today seem to facing tremendous problems in their daily lives - so many broken marriages, so many youngsters experimenting with drugs, so many unhappy and purposeless lives?
Lots of people live as if all that was necessary for them to achieve happiness is to have a few more pounds a week in their pockets, and all will be well. Our Political Parties trade on this, trying to buy our vote by promising better schools, better hospitals, better pensions - that`s all you need to make life go with a swing, so VOTE FOR US, AND WE`LL GIVE IT TO YOU. . But, of course we know it isn`t true. We know, deep down inside that`s something`s missing, that there`s a a hole within us that can`t be filled with money or things - we KNOW that we don`t have gas in our tanks, that`s why so many people are experimenting with strange new religions and looking for new spiritual experiences. They know that life is a grind, going nowhere and they`re longing to find an answer to their lack of power and meaning.
That`s why today is so important, The Day of Pentecost. Jesus` Disciples were facing the same dilemma that many people face today. They had been brought up as good religious people by their parents. But, as the years went by, the power and the joy had gone out of it - they realised they were just going through the motions of religion, pushing the car and getting nowhere as it were. Then they met Jesus, and saw immediately that there was something completely different about Him. He was going somewhere, going somewhere fast. Compared to Him, they were cold and dead, helpless and powerless. They saw He had a SPIRIT THAT THEY WERE LACKING.
Oh, they tried to live like Him, but couldn`t do it. Finally in frustration, they let Him down and abandoned Him. And when they saw Him dying on the Cross, they thought that it was over, His promises just as empty as their lives.
But, when Jesus rose from the dead, He promised them that their tank would now be filled, their lives would have a new power, and that they too would live life in the fast lane, and all they had to do was wait and pray and it would happen - so they did. And, it happened on the Day of Pentecost. That Day the very Spirit of Jesus, the Holy Spirit, came and filled them..... filled them with such power that they were astonished and so was the world around them. Our word "POWER" comes from the Greek word "DUNAMIS" - that`s where we get our English word DYNAMITE" from. From that day on their lives were dynamite, shaking the religious and secular foundations of their world. It was as if after Jesus was crucified, a great harvest of Jesuses had sprung from the ground. 12, then 120, then 3,000, then more and more, day after day, so that today there are millions of them, millions of us, new and living Jesuses with the same power to teach and preach, and love and heal, and live as He had. God"s Gas, the Holy Spirit had come to fill their lives and ours - now they and we are going somewhere.