27th May 2023
Pentecost was the day when...
Pentecost was the day when the Holy Spirit was given to Jesus' followers
and when the church was born. The event is described once in Acts 2:1-40.
Pentecost is extraordinarily important today.
It has been said that if Christmas is God with us and
Easter is God for us then
Pentecost is God in us.
But I believe that the role of the Spirit is not just to comfort or
I want to add that Pentecost is about God in us for witness.
One great theme dominates the book of Acts:
the proclamation of Jesus Christ as Lord to the entire world.
Pentecost marks the great turning point in the history of God's people.
Before Pentecost, God's dealings with humanity are about one race
of people looking towards, and going to, one place, Jerusalem and its temple.
With Pentecost, the direction of motion is dramatically reversed:
God's people are now looking outwards and going out from Jerusalem
to witness to the nations
With that subject of witness in mind, let me offer you three observations
on Pentecost, each of which has a relevance for the church today.
First, Pentecost speaks of a confidence given in the witness to Jesus.
Although ultimately restored, Peter is broken and humbled by the events of
Easter and the resurrection.
Here, however, he is transformed by the Spirit and, in the heart of Jerusalem
on a feast day, he declares powerfully to all not only who Jesus is,
but who bears responsibility for his death.
This confidence is something that we need today.
Although as churches and individuals we may strongly reject the
prevailing anti-Christian and atheistic worldviews about us,
the fact is we live with such opposition that we are tempted to silence.
Pentecost reminds us that, in the power of the Spirit,
God can give the most timid the confidence to speak out for him.
May God inspire us all to speak out and proclaim the gospel!
Second, Pentecost speaks of the communication of the witness about Jesus.
How we interpret the disciples speaking in 'other tongues' or
'other languages' is much discussed.
Were the disciples given the gift of speaking unlearned earthly languages
or were their hearers given the gift of understanding them?
The debate should not conceal the significance of the event:
the message of the gospel is to be proclaimed to all nations
and in every tongue.
Notice too that the communication of Peter in his speech strikes to
the heart of his hearers and brings conviction.
May God give us all the ability to effectively witness for him
through the power of the Spirit!
Finally, Pentecost speaks of a confirmation of the witness to Christ.
The disciples had nothing other than their testimony to affirm the
validity of their message.
Through the power of the Spirit with the sound of the 'violent wind',
the 'tongues of fire' and the speaking in intelligible foreign languages,
the validity of their words had a striking confirmation.
May we also be empowered by his Spirit with words and works;
kindness, generosity and compassion, to name just a few,
can be remarkably effective.
May God confirm our witness for him through the power of the Spirit!
Pentecost speaks to us of the fact that at the heart of the
Christian faith is the confident communication of Jesus
as the crucified, risen and ascended Lord
who demands the allegiance of all men and women.
Spirit of the living God, fall afresh on us.