Summary: Three lessons we can learn from Acts 2 if we want to be faithful to the Great Commission
Swanton Novers/Brinton 08-06-03
What can we learn from the Experience of Pentecost?
There are, in my opinion, only three major celebrations in the Church Year.
1. Christmas when we celebrate the Birth of Christ
2. Easter when we celebrate the Death and Resurrection of Christ and
3. Pentecost (or Whitsun - for the Anglicans!!) when we celebrate the birth of the Church as recorded in our reading this morning from the Acts of the Apostles
You might be wondering – how on earth could this spectacular Event - described in Acts 2 - have given birth to the Church?
So what was this event at Pentecost in AD 29 all about?
1. I would like to start by asking the question,
why did the power of God come down on the disciples at Pentecost?
To understand that we need to go to the end of Matthew’s Gospel. Jesus gave his Church what is known as the “Great Commission” just before he left this earth.
He told them “ Go and make disciples of all nations baptising them in the Name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you till the end of the age” (Mt. 28:19 and 20)
The reason for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in Acts 2 was to enable the disciples to fulfil the Great Commission.
Bringing people to Christ is a spiritual battle. It is not simply an intellectual discussion – as you might have if you were discussing politics.
The spiritual battle for people’s hearts can only be won on the spiritual battlefield – and we need the power of the Holy Spirit to succeed.
It must have been very daunting for the disciples, when they first heard the Great Commission. But when Jesus asks us to do something – he provides us with the means.
Having said that, it must have then been bizarre to the disciples that Jesus gave them very clear instructions as when they were to start fulfilling the Great Commission. It wasn’t to be right away.
In Acts 1, Jesus said
“But you shall receive Power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you and you shall be my witnessses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1 v.8)
2. And so the second question I’d like to pose was why did God wait for Pentecost?
Why did Jesus make such a fuss about the timing?
There are a number of reasons but I believe the prime reason is bopund up with the actual meaning of the Feast. Pentecost itself will explain to us much of what is going on.
Let me go a little into the background.
The Jews had three major festivals in their calender year, which all male Jews wee expected to attend. Passover, Pentecost and the Feast of Tabernacles
Pentecost was the second major festival of the Jewish year – after Passover. Pentecost was a harvest festival - at the beginning of the wheat harvest - when the first fruits of the wheat harvest were presented to God.
When the Power of God came down on the disciples at Pentecost, I believe God was saying that this is the beginning of the spiritual harvest - a harvest which is still going on today almost 2000 years later.