Let us pray: Dear Lord Christ, today we join in thanking You for keeping Your promise, specifically the promise to send us the Holy Spirit! How lost we would be without His help, comfort, strength, and guidance! May we never disappoint Him as He works at empowering us to speak Your truth in love, thereby building up Your holy body of saints, including each and every one of us! Amen
GRACE MERCY AND PEACE ARE YOURS FROM CHRIST WHO HAS SENT US THE HOLY SPIRIT WHO STIRS UP OUR HEARTS IN LOVE AND FAITHFULNESS!
TEXT: Acts 2: 1-21
Fellow Redeemed Pentecost Christians:
I’m going to get in trouble with my editor. It happens every time I report something about the followers of Jesus. You know about Jesus, don’t you? He was the famous rabbi that the religious leaders conspired with the Romans to kill. They did that 50 days ago during the Passover. They crucified him. As a beat reporter for the “Jerusalem Times” I, Jacob ben Judah, (Jacob, son of Judah) covered that event. Everyone bought a paper that week. But, then, I followed up that story with a couple more about a supposed “resurrection” of Jesus, appearances by Him to His followers, and even a story about how He rose up to heaven before their eyes a few days ago. My editor got into a lot of trouble with the authorities over those stories. They accused him of spreading lies and rumors. And he called me into his office and literally read me the riot act
Now, I’ve got another story to report that might well get me fired! You see, I was across the street from the house where Jesus’ disciples were meeting today and I saw and heard some things that stunned me. All of a sudden I heard the sound of a violent wind, a whirlwind. It shook the whole house, but everything else in the vicinity was left untouched. What could it have been? And then, as I looked through the open window I saw what looked exactly like little tongues of fire disperse and finally rest upon the disciples’ heads. It didn’t burn them, so it couldn’t have been lightning. Amazing. Simply amazing! I got my pen out and started to compose my story. I’ll tell you the rest of what I saw in a minute, but my headline simply has to be:
STRANGE DOINGS IN JERUSALEM!
I’ve been on the job for about 20 years. I’ve seen con men and women. I’ve heard their stories. I never report such news, either. It just isn’t kosher! Speaking of kosher, Pentecost is a rather famous Jewish festival proscribed in Exodus 23. It’s a time for pilgrims from throughout the empire to return to the holy city and worship. Well, as the disciples left that house and went to the temple courtyard, I heard them speaking countless foreign languages to each other, the languages of these many pilgrims! That stunned me! I knew these men. I had interviewed them for other stories. They didn’t have such linguistic ability before today! They told me that the Holy Spirit had descended upon them and given them this amazing gift. It had happened in that upper room when the whirlwind and the tongues of fire came to rest upon them. I’ve never seen anything like it in my 20 years of reporting. But, I saw it and heard it. So, it’s true.
Other people, a lot of them, had heard the whirlwind, too. A crowd gathered, attracted by it. They began to talk among themselves: “Are not all these men who are speaking Galileans? Then how is it that each of us hears them in his own native language?…We hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues?…What does this mean?”
Was this a miracle? Well, how could it not be? And it had to be from God, otherwise they wouldn’t have been talking about how God had sent Jesus, His Son, to suffer and die on the cross and then rise again to life—to save them! They were saying that Jesus is the promised Messiah. And that He gave His life to make them right and holy and perfect before God. They call this concept: grace. God’s riches at Christ’s expense. They said we could all live guilt-free lives now because God’s Son suffered the pain of our guilt and faith in Him frees us from the burden of having to try to measure up to God’s perfection on our own. To Jews steeped in the law with all of its regulations this was and is heady stuff! And I must confess, the very idea of God loving me so much filled me with peace that I cannot put into words.—I guess that’s why they call the force of God behind all this the Comforter.
As we continued to the temple courtyard, the crowd grew and grew. Holy pilgrims from the empire knew their Bibles. They drank up this message of total forgiveness of sins that came from the mouths of the disciples. They knew, unlike the religious temple leaders, that the promised Messiah wasn’t a political King but a spiritual King. Some even started shouting “Hosannas!” But, then some hecklers started spewing their venom. “They have had too much wine.” That’s what they said. I knew that was untrue, after all, I had been following them all day to get a story. But, I didn’t need to say a word in their defense, because Peter took them on. “Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say. These men are not drunk, as you suppose. It’s only nine in the morning! No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: ‘In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people.’”
Then Peter added more from that section of Joel. He spoke of individual people, common people not just clergy, being given the gift of the Holy Spirit and being empowered to tell others about Jesus, His love, His forgiveness, and His gift of salvation. Think of what that means? God doesn’t filter His message to us through clergy alone, no He gives it directly to us through common people who know and study the Bible. That means we’re all equally important to Him! It means He doesn’t play favorites. It means that all Christians are vitally important.
Then Peter went on to conclude by saying: “And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” I saw crippled people there. I saw young men and old women. I saw teens and rich merchants. Upon hearing this message in their own language, these pilgrims were enraptured, stunned, and awestruck at the same time. Later on, over 3000 of them announced their allegiance to Christ by being baptized, too. And I suppose they will all go home and share what they have seen and heard and experienced today.
Later on, I got John aside and asked him about this. Do you know what he told me? He said that Jesus had prophesied this day earlier in His ministry. Jesus had talked of His everlasting kingdom and how He would rise from this earth to heaven and then send the Holy Spirit, the Comforter, to console, equip, and inspire people to believe and embrace Him–everlastingly. John said this work would continue on generation after generation until Christ came back to judge the world and take His followers into heaven. Well, time will tell if John was right. But meanwhile, my problem is: how do I report all this and get it by my editor? O well, if John was truthful, I guess the truth will always win out. Wouldn’t it be amazing if 2000 years from now Christ’s followers still commemorated this day? Amen