Day of Pentecost (May 15, 2016)
- First reading
- Second reading
Romans 8:14-17 | Common English Bible (CEB)
14 All who are led by God’s Spirit are God’s sons and daughters. 15 You didn’t receive a spirit of slavery to lead you back again into fear, but you received a Spirit that shows you are adopted as his children. With this Spirit, we cry, “Abba, Father.” 16 The same Spirit agrees with our spirit, that we are God’s children. 17 But if we are children, we are also heirs. We are God’s heirs and fellow heirs with Christ, if we really suffer with him so that we can also be glorified with him.
This week, after celebrating seven weeks of Easter, we arrive at Pentecost. Pentecost originated as a Jewish feast, although it wasn’t originally called that. That’s why there were so many in Jerusalem at the time. There were Jews from all over the known world at the time. Many of those places are listed in Acts 2.
The Feast of Pentecost was originally known as the Feast of Weeks – it was an equivalent of our Thanksgiving – a harvest festival of sorts. Eventually the feast came to celebrate the giving of the law to Moses on Mt. Sinai. Pentecost means 50 days. Traditionally it is believed that God gave the law to Moses on the 50th day after the exodus from Egypt.
It is appropriate on this day – 50 days after the resurrection of Jesus – on the same day that the Jewish people celebrated the giving of the law – that the Holy Spirit came. Just seven weeks after Jesus was raised from the dead, the first believers were empowered by the Holy Spirit to be witnesses of the resurrection to the world.
Here’s where we have the connection to today’s scripture. The eleven apostles (Judas had killed himself) along with 109 others were gathered in an upper room (a guest room) seeking the gift of the Holy Spirit that had been promised by Jesus. I think it is interesting – these disciples – who ran for their lives when Jesus was crucified, were now seeking his power – and when it came – they were no longer fearful – they were no longer slaves to fear – but they received the power and preached the resurrection boldly.
In a connected scripture in Genesis, we have the account of God confusing the language so that the people could not become powerful and do anything they wanted. Now on the day of Pentecost, God reversed it – and people from every nation and land were able to hear the praise of God in their own tongue. Some thought the disciples were drunk – but Peter – remember Peter – the man who feared for his life so much that he denied knowing Jesus three times. It is this Peter, when confronted by the crowd, boldly proclaims the Good News that Jesus is risen. This same Jesus that was killed and buried – is now risen.
Jesus has come
Jesus has died
Jesus has risen
Jesus is coming again
This is the Good News of the faith. The apostles were no longer slaves to fear, but were seeking after and received the Holy Spirit and now were walking as children of God. It is through this power that we can cry out “Abba! Father” – which literally means “Daddy! Father!” See how the power of the Holy Spirit changes things. The Holy Spirit gives us the ability to do things that we could not and can not do on our own.
It is the same power – the same power that raised Jesus from the grave – to quote a Jeremy Camp song – it is this same power that raised Jesus from the grave that now lives in us. And we no longer – as the disciples found out – need to live in fear. Through the Holy Spirit we can boldly proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ.