Summary: The Holy Spirit birthed the church on Pentecost. He is alive today and the Christian’s challenge to work out his/her calling in the light of the Resurrection and Pentecost.
Sermon for CATM – Pentecost Sunday – May 31, 2009
It had been the most intense experience of their lives. A Jewish carpenter and Rabbi had called each of them out from where they were. Some were fishermen - 5 of them actually; one was a tax collector; most were of unknown occupation; some were standing around talking, one was just sitting under a tree.
And each of them followed Him, fascinated by His character, amazed by His grace, drawn by his love, emboldened by the miracles He performed again and again in response to human suffering, in response to human need.
They were captivated by His words. Simple words using familiar things to describe profound truths about humanity and about true spirituality.
It had been the most intense experience of their lives. 12 men and an unnumbered amount of women followed Him everywhere, still beholding His miracles and His incredibly gracious words.
And each of them followed Him, knowing that He was becoming a threat to the authorities, they still kept close to Him, knowing they were becoming associated with One who was breaking down barriers, cutting across cultural norms in order to reach people with His love. They were captivated by His words, but now authorities were starting to use and twist His words to discredit Him.
They followed Him into Jerusalem, feeling pretty queasy, and they joyfully served as His entourage as Jesus is celebrated as King.
It had been the most intense experience of their lives. He told them He would be killed. He told them that He would not leave them alone, however. He promised them a comforter.
One who would lead them into all truth. Jesus told them: [PPT] John 16:7-8 “7 But I tell you the truth: It is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Counsellor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. 8 When he comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment…”
It was an intense experience…life with Jesus. And then He died. And then He rose again. They saw Him alive again. And then He told them to wait. To wait in the city.
He said: [PPT] “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth." (Acts 1:8)
And now they are in Jerusalem, waiting. On the day of Pentecost, the festival celebrating the harvest. They choose someone to replace Judas, Judas who had betrayed Jesus. And on the day of Pentecost they are together and they are waiting.
[PPT] Show Video: Pentecost (Acts 2:1-24, the Message)
You get a sense of how monumental that first Pentecost was in the life of the church. It WAS actually the birth of the church. And there are some valuable things to pick up from these, our earliest brothers and sisters in the Lord.
The first thing is that they were not splintered off in many different directions. They were together. Praying together. Eating together. Worshipping together. And they weren’t busy doing stuff, trying to accomplish things on their own strength.
They WERE doing what Jesus commanded: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about”. Acts 1:4
These are two of the hardest things in life to do: to simply be together and to wait. It’s hard to BE together. People have differences. We can offend one another unintentionally. We can develop differing ideas about what’s going to happen, what’s suppose to happen.
A lot of the history of the church for the past 2000 years has been just that…people getting distracted and off-mission because they start to focus on things that matter far less than God’s purposes.
It’s hard to be together and it’s hard to wait. To wait for inspiration, to wait for direction.
Now direction always comes because God loves to lead His people.
When we get impatient, when we DON’T wait, we can sometimes perhaps miss the leading of the Spirit, we can miss God’s direction because we’re simply not waiting, not listening, not quieting our spirits so that we can be attuned to God’s voice.
The good news is these early Christians WERE together, they WERE waiting, WERE trusting, WERE anticipating that God would do what God said He would do. He would fulfill His promise.
And what happened? The Holy Spirit came and uniquely enabled the disciples to testify with one voice for the glory of God.
This troubled, quirky group of disciples became empowered by God, they were set on fire for God. Specifically, they and all those around them were witness to a unique event as recorded in Scripture: