The Day of Pentecost
June 9, 2019
“Amazed and Perplexed”
Grace, mercy, and peace be and abide with you all in the name of our living Savior and Good Shepherd Jesus. The basis for the sermon today is the Second Reading from Acts chapter 2.
My dear friends,
I think you know what Christmas is about, and I think you know what Easter is all about, so what IS Pentecost about anyway? Let’s set the scene. Jesus has risen from the dead 50 days ago. He had ascended back into heaven 10 days ago, and now the disciples and members of the early church were gathered in Jerusalem for the Feast of Pentecost. Originally, Pentecost was the Jewish spring harvest festival named after the Greek word for “50” because it occurred on the 50th day after the Passover In the Old Testament, this celebration was also called the Feast of Weeks (Deut. 16:10) or the Feast of Harvest (Ex 23:16). This was meant to be the celebration in which the Israelites offered their first fruits to God in an act of thankful giving.
But that year, Pentecost took on a whole new meaning. The Jews were gathered from faraway places in Jerusalem – the religious center of Israel – to celebrate the Feast of Harvest/Weeks or “Pentecost.” But that year it was the Christians who gathered who received an amazing gift. Just as Jesus had promised in Luke 24:49, the Holy Spirit was given to those believers in Jerusalem. Now, Pentecost took on a whole new meaning. Christmas is the birthday of Jesus. Easter is the “birth” day of life over death. Pentecost is the “birthday,” if you will, of the Christian Church. It is the day that the Holy Spirit was given to the disciples which compelled them to go out and give a convincing witness to many people in many languages about their resurrected Lord Christ Jesus. And do you want to know something? The world is a different place because of Christmas. The world is a different place because of Easter. And the world is a different place because of Pentecost.
Acts 2:13 tells us that others (mocked them and) said, “They are filled with new wine.” Uhm…no. it was only 8 AM! In other words, the onlookers that day didn’t understand the actions of the faithful believers and so it was easier to mock and ridicule them rather than try to understand them. Sound familiar? Look at how the Christian faith is ridiculed and mocked in secular world today. Look at how those who believe in Creation are thought to be “ignorant” and “blind to science.” Those who support traditional marriage and do not support same-sex marriage are “hateful” and “old fashioned.” “Get with the times!” No…times change; the times need to get with the Bible not the other way around. Meanwhile those same people who mock and ridicule the faithful of God look at the events of this world – the crisis, calamity, chaos, and confusion – and they panic. And while they are perplexed by the events of the day, the faithful remain calm and fearless in the word of God: (Jesus said), “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matt. 11:28), “(cast) all your anxieties on (Jesus), because he cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7). There are loads of people who look upon Christians who think we’re “drunk” or “ignorant,” but that is a far cry from what we really are. We aren’t ignorant or holier than anyone else. We are redeemed sinners forgiven by God’s grace and Jesus’ shed blood.
In verse 12 of today’s lesson, we are told regarding the onlookers that “all were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, What does this mean?” Again, we know full well how the world fails to understand the ways of God and His people so confusion and ridicule are natural reactions.
Despite the amazement and perplexity that day, Peter stood up and stated emphatically to the crowd in verse 14 “Give ear to my words!” Then Peter explained how the latter days of the New Covenant were a fulfillment of the amazing words of the prophet Joel. What then follows is Peter’s long, great sermon concerning Christ, and we will hear the conclusion next week.
However, the last verse we are given to consider is verse 21, “And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” Wow. I think that what Peter was trying to get across to people is that they should not get caught up in the specific events of that day. They ought not get distracted by the great rushing wind or the flames or even the signs from the prophet Joel (v. 19-20). Instead, what is vital for people to know is the fact that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. You want to talk about being amazed and perplexed? (v. 12). The cross of Jesus Christ…that is amazement. It is amazing that God would love and care about this world so much that He would send His only Son into this world to redeem this world from its sinful rebellion and disbelief. And while it caused great perplexity then and still does today, the resurrection is utterly amazing! It is amazing that God would raise up Christ Jesus from the grave to show that His sacrificial death was a sufficient ransom for this world’s sin. It is amazing that we are joined with Him by our baptisms into His death so that, just as He was raised from the dead, we too will one day rise because our sins are forgiven and we believe in Christ as Lord and Savior.
What Peter said was right…everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved because eternal salvation comes through faith in Jesus Christ alone and through no other way. As a result, we can live amazed and perplexed lives in the sense that we know that we have the forgiveness of sins because of the sacrificial life and death of Jesus Christ and that we have the hope of eternal life by virtue of our faith in Him. This truth continues to amaze and perplex many people, including those who live life by their faith in the Son of God. We are able to live amazed and perplexed lives by faith in the Christ of Christmas, the Christ of Easter, and most definitely, the gift of God which is the Day of Pentecost.
Pretty amazing, right?