Feast of Pentecost
The Feast of Pentecost
12 June 2011
The Holy Spirit. Third Person of the Holy Trinity. He is the Lord and Giver of life. That’s good news for you and me.
After all, we live in a world chock full of death. Terrorists murder our troops and our citizens. Tornadoes take the lives of hundreds. 23 people have died from toxic E. coli in Germany. 429 bodies have been discovered in clandestine graves in Mexico as a result of drug violence. Casey Anthony is on trial for the murder of her little daughter Caylee. How could things like this happen?
Well, we live in a world and country that relentlessly teach that there are no absolute truths. We are told that every person is free to CREATE his or her meaning of life. And so people do just that! Even if CREATING MEANING for their life means that they cause senseless destruction and death for themselves and others. The voices all around us defend death by choice especially when it relates to the unborn, the elderly, or critically ill. One of the biggest advocates for death, Dr. Jack Kevorkian, the assisted suicide doctor / murderer, died June 3. We really shouldn’t be surprised then when the practitioners of CREATING their own meaning for life carry out their selfish and destructive desires. And that truly is a culture of death.
And then comes the Holy Spirit. The Lord and Giver of life! In fulfillment of the prophet Joel’s prophecy.
“And it shall come to pass in the last days says God,
That I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh.”
That’s Pentecost! The pouring out of the Holy Spirit on the apostles is precisely what the Old Testament and Jesus Himself promised. Jesus told the apostles to stay in Jerusalem until they were clothed with power from on high. Now the wait is over. The crucified, risen, and ascended Savior Jesus sends the Holy Spirit, the Helper just as He said He would.
“Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house” where this little congregation was seated.
The Old Testament Hebrew word for “Spirit” is ruach. Ruach means “wind” or “breath.” As Ezekiel stood before his dead congregation of desert dry bones of skeletons God commands the prophet to preach to that dead congregation! I would have said, “No thanks Lord! Can’t you see these bones are dead? Give me another congregation to preach to! One that is alive and growing!” Ezekiel preaches. And as he preaches a wind, a ruach, (the Holy Spirit) sweeps through that valley of death and brings Congregation Israel to life!
Jesus Himself speaks of the Holy Spirit this way in John 3. “The WIND blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes.” In John 20 the freshly resurrected Jesus BREATHES on His as good as dead congregation and they receive the Holy Spirit! The Holy Spirit is the WIND, the BREATH of God.
And now in this room on Pentecost the Holy Spirit rushes and blows were this “dying” congregation of 120 members sits.
And not just WIND but also FIRE! “They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them.” Fire. You remember that it was from the fiery bush that God revealed Himself to Moses. That’s Exodus 3. You also remember that it was by a pillar of fire by night that God lead the Israelites in the wilderness. That also in Exodus. The New Testament book of Hebrews teaches that God is “a consuming fire.” Fire indicates the holiness and presence of God Himself in the Bible. So now at Pentecost tongues of flames appear on the apostles. God is with them. Although most artwork of this scene puts the fiery flames on the apostles’ heads it might be better if the artwork put the flames over the apostles’ mouths. After all, the Holy Spirit is present and active in the preaching that would come out of their mouths!
“And they were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.” The tongues are not ecstatic gibberish. Instead, the Holy Spirit enables the apostles to proclaim Jesus in real languages that people from all over the world understand. Each hears in his own native language the wonderful good news that Jesus is the Savior of sinners! That Jesus was crucified and was raised from the dead for them! All the wind, fire and miraculous preaching in various languages are the main features of this first Pentecost. They are signs that point the way to the real work of the Holy Spirit! And what is that? THE PREACHING OF THE GOSPEL! THAT SINNERS ARE FORGIVEN FOR JESUS’ SAKE! Where the Holy Spirit is poured out, tongues and lips are unloosed to confess Jesus! To tell what He has done on Good Friday and Easter Sunday to save dead, damned sinners!
Through the preached Gospel the Holy Spirit is like the FED EX deliveryman of the Holy Trinity! He is sent by the Father to deliver the forgiveness and salvation that Jesus won and achieved in His atoning, sacrificial suffering and dying. The Holy Spirit brings you the good news through the preached Gospel that you are forgiven! That you are reconciled to God through the blood of Jesus! That God does not count your sins against you! That heaven and eternal life are yours for Jesus’ sake!
Every Sunday then is a little Pentecost in our very midst! For in the preached Gospel the Holy Spirit blows! The Holy Spirit raises dead sinners to the new life of faith in Jesus! Every time you see a Baptism the Spirit is there in the Word hooked with the water. And that is why the apostle Paul says in Titus 3 that God “saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit.” The Lord and Giver of life, the Holy Spirit, by the Word makes the water of Holy Baptism a “life giving water, rich in grace” for you. And in that water you are a new creation! The old has passed away. The new has come!
Yes, every Sunday is a little Pentecost. For at the Lord’s Supper you hear Jesus speak His words. Jesus promises that the bread is His Body. And that the cup of wine is His blood! For your forgiveness! His words are Spirit and they are life. That’s John 6:63! So when you come to Communion the Holy Spirit is blowing as you hear Jesus’ own words of promise spoken to you.
The Holy Spirit does for you what you cannot do for yourselves! He brings Jesus and all His Good Friday and Easter Sunday benefits to you and then He brings you to Jesus. Calls you to faith by the gospel. Enlightens you with His gifts. Sanctifies and keeps you with Jesus in the true faith.
We sinners – apart from faith in Jesus – are spiritual corpses! Dead as a doornail! Graveyard dead! And there’s nothing we can do to change that.
And so Jesus sends you the Holy Spirit! Pentecosted you in your Baptism! Pentecosts you ever Sunday as you hear that your sins are forgiven. Pentecosts you as you eat and drink the Lord’s body and blood in the Sacrament. Raising you from the dead! Seriously! From the death of sin and God’s eternal wrath! Through the good news of the Gospel the Lord and Giver of life does His unique work: raises you, resurrects you, to a new life or new creation right now. And that’s spelled: F-A-I-T-H! Faith in Jesus.
And then on the Last Day another final Pentecosting, if you will! The forgiveness of sins that the Spirit applied to you in the Gospel will bear its ultimate fruit in you. The Lord and Giver of Life, sent from the Father and the Son, will raise your body from the grave. Resurrection! Never to die again! To be where you’ve always been with that resurrected body: in and with Christ. And when you’re in Christ the Holy Spirit has done His job perfectly for you.
Have a happy Pentecost.
In the Name of Jesus.