The Day of Pentecost
May 15, 2016
“So That’s The Guy In My Head”
Grace, mercy, and peace be and abide with you all in the name of our living Savior Jesus. The basis for the sermon is today’s 2nd Lesson as read from Acts chapter 2.
My dear friends,
A Sunday School was teaching her class one Sunday about the Holy Spirit and who the Holy Spirit is, how the Spirit comes, and what the Holy Spirit does. One 4th grader, upon making the mental connection, excitedly raised her hand – “I get it! The Holy Spirit! So that’s the guy in my head!” Well, sort of but not quite. Today is the Day of Pentecost, and the temptation with Pentecost is to offer a doctrinal lecture on the person of the Holy Spirit. But that’s NOT what I want to do today.
Instead I want to remind you that God is a God of communication. He speaks to us plainly; He is the “guy in your head,” but also so much more than that!
Pentecost is the 3rd of the great Church festivals along with Christmas and Easter (“one of these things is not like the other…”). God’s communication was alive and well at that first Pentecost, which we mark as the birth of the Christian Church. This same communication is now the ongoing work of Christ. The communication work of Christ continues now through the Church…you!
Fifty days after Christ’s resurrection, the followers of Christ in Jerusalem gathered in a house. Which house? Whose house? Not sure…doesn’t matter. Our text doesn’t tell us why they’d gathered, but it’s not much of a leap to suggest that this was the Divine Service, most likely including the Lord’s Supper. Otherwise, why would the whole Christian community have gathered? During this gathering, a special manifestation of the Holy Spirit was poured out on them. Tongues of fire rested on their heads. The sound of a great rushing wind drew the people of Jerusalem to that place. The followers of Jesus were there praising God in loud voices. And miraculously, everyone in the crowd heard them speaking in his or her own language; the “guy in their head” spoke a language they understood. They were hearing about what God had done through Christ, and they were understanding it perfectly.
It’s important to make clear that the tongues or languages here in our text were existing human languages. This is not some special Holy Spirit language. The text is crystal clear on this point and even mentions several of the languages. Verse 6: “Each one was hearing them speak in his own language. And they were amazed and astonished, saying, ‘Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each of us in his own native language? Parthians and Medes and Elamites and residents of Mesopotamia’ ” and all the rest. God is not a God of confusion. He did do that once – the Tower of Babel in Genesis. But now, after the resurrection of Christ Jesus, there is no need to confuse languages. God does not want to create chaos. His desire is clear communication; you’ve got to be able to understand the “guy in your head.” This is very different from the supposed speaking in “tongues” that we see in Pentecostal or charismatic churches.
Why is this important? Because faith comes by hearing the Word of God. The Church is the people of God—the believers in Jesus Christ. If people are not told about Jesus Christ and what Christ has done for them, they cannot believe it. Without the clear message that Christ died on the cross for your sins, the Church does not exist. And so we see this at Pentecost. The crowd gathered because of the complex miracles that were taking place. The text says, “All were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, ‘What does this mean?’ ” (v 12). But the people do not come to faith until Peter has preached the Word of God to them.
Peter preached Law and Gospel to them in classic, almost textbook, Lutheran fashion. When they understood what God had done and that they, because of their sins, bore responsibility for it, their consciences were cut open. They asked Peter what they were to do, and Peter told them: “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (2:38). We are told 3000 were baptized that very day.
That’s the point. The Church grows because people see and hear the proclaimed Word of God. As a church, Good Shepherd has been here 34 years while others have come and gone. Why? We stand on God’s Word and will never fall! It is not a matter of some secret process. It is about communication; it’s God working through that voice of faith – the “guy in our head.” God communicates to us through his Word, that is, through Holy Scripture. God speaks to us in human language using words and sentences. All are capable of hearing and believing in the 1 True God and thereby come to a saving knowledge of the truth. This is why we do and support mission efforts.
The Church is about the Word; not just potlucks, budgets, or whether to build or not build onto the school. The Word, the Scriptures, are at the center of everything. And isn’t it interesting that Pentecost comes at a time – summer – when far too many take a vacation from God’s Word? Still, challenge yourself today: what is YOUR worship, your prayer, and devotional life like? What is your exposure to God’s Word like? Yet, it is that Word that clearly communicates to us all what God has done for us, that we have a Savior, Christ Jesus, by his death on the cross and his resurrection. Let’s do what we can so that everyone’s “guy in their head” tells them the exact same life-giving, hope-sustaining truth that we all love and cherish so dearly.