Sermons

Pentecost (Acts 2:1–21; Jn 14:23–31)

June 4, 2017
Immanuel Lutheran Church—Bremen, KS || AUDIO
Bethlehem Lutheran Church—Bremen, KS || AUDIO

June 7, 2017
Mt. Calvary Lutheran Church—Marysville, KS || AUDIO

INI + AMEN.

“When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place.” Pentecost was fulfilled. The promise had been made and kept. Jesus made it; Jesus kept it—of course He did! His life, death, and resurrection were only the beginning. He ascended and continued His work. He promised the Spirit. “The Father will send Him in My Name.” The Spirit was sent, and so He came.

The Apostles’ received the Holy Spirit, as Jesus had said. There was a rushing wind, a vision of tongues of fire, and people were hearing the Apostles in their mother tongue. They still had the Galilean accent, but the Apostles spoke like “Parthians and Medes, Egyptians and Romans, Greeks and Arabians.” As bewildering, amazing, and perplexing as that was, that’s not all because just like Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection were only the beginning, so also Pentecost was only the beginning. Even today, Pentecost continues. The Spirit’s work continues.

((3. We pine after “the spirit.”))

It’s a shame, really, that Lutherans get a bum rap for being weak on the Spirit, ignoring the Spirit. “Sure, you talk a lot about Jesus, but now you’re missing out because you don’t talk about the Spirit.” But listen: if we’re weak on the Spirit, so was Peter when “he lifted up his voice and addressed the crowd.” Yes, Peter did start by saying that the Spirit worked the Pentecost miracle to fulfill Joel, but if you read the rest of his Pentecost sermon, every other sermon he preached in Acts, even Stephen’s and Paul’s sermons in Acts, you’d see they don’t preach the Spirit. They preach Jesus.

We often let that empty criticism hit home because we, just like other Christians, want to see the Spirit’s work in all the wrong places. We want to “feel” the Spirit. If we don’t feel something on a Sunday morning, then was the Spirit actually working? We want to “know” the Spirit. If I’ve got correct answers to whatever religious questions, then the Spirit’s working. (Feels good to be right!) We want to “experience” the Spirit in our day to day lives. As if, because of the Spirit, we’ll get an inkling or feeling—there we go with the feelings again!—into what car to buy, which college to choose, what to do with our career, or whatever else.

In all these ways we think we’re looking for the Holy Spirit, but we’re actually looking for some other spirit, because the Spirit’s continuing work isn’t found in those sorts of places.

((2. Jesus promises and delivers the real Spirit.))

“But Jesus promised the Spirit!” Yes, He did. “The Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My Name, He will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.” Jesus promised that the real Spirit, the Holy Spirit, “who proceeds from the Father,” would come upon the Apostles and would teach and remind them of what Jesus said. That’s Jesus’ promise to them.

Jesus kept that promise: “They were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.” The Spirit moved the Apostles to preach Jesus, and the Gospels show that the Spirit brought to their minds all that Jesus said to them.

The real Holy Spirit, not some feeling, came upon the Apostles’ then they taught Jesus, preached Jesus, even wrote Jesus. Jesus’ promise was fulfilled.

((1. The Spirit works for us where Jesus promised Him.))

“But what about us, Pastor? You said that the Spirit’s work, Pentecost continues.” That’s true. It does. You can trust that the Spirit is working right now. How can you be confident of that? Because just like that crowd who heard the Apostles, so also you “hear…in [your] own tongue the mighty works of God.” On Pentecost the Holy Spirit undoes the curse of Babel so that you can hear the Gospel in your own language. So that you can hear that Jesus died and rose for you.

This is where and how Pentecost continues, how the Spirit still works. You hearing the Scriptures, reading them, studying them, chanting the Psalms and liturgy, singing the hymns, hearing this sermon right now—in all these ways we hear “in our own tongues the mighty works of God,” that Jesus died and rose for the forgiveness of your sins.

But that’s not all. You hear the mighty works of God: “I baptize you;” “I absolve you;” “Take, eat, My Body; take, drink, My Blood.” In these Gifts—Jesus’ Gifts—the Spirit’s at work.

The Pentecost account in Acts 2 ended with the Sacraments, but that’s really where Pentecost continues, where the Spirit continues to work in our very midst, just as surely as He worked 2,000 years ago on that first Christian Pentecost.

Peter said to 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. For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to Himself.”…So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls. And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of the bread, and to the prayers. (Acts 2:38–39, 41–42)

So you see, on Pentecost Sunday we don’t just remember some 2,000 year old event. No, we rejoice that

PENTECOST CONTINUES IN JESUS’ WORD AND GIFTS.

Lutherans aren’t light on the Spirit at all. We’re like Peter. We know where He’s at. We repent of our “spirit searching” and trust Jesus’ promise. He died, rose, ascended, and now sends the Spirit to you in His Word and Gifts, as promised.

You want to be more spiritual? Be where the Spirit’s at work. He’s in the preaching. You hear “in [your] own tongue the mighty works of God,” that Jesus died and rose for you. You have been baptized for the forgiveness of your sins and have been given the gift of the Holy Spirit. We “devote ourselves to the apostles’ teaching;” that’s Bible Study. We devote ourselves to “the breaking of the bread;” that’s the Supper of Jesus’ body and blood.

PENTECOST CONTINUES IN JESUS’ WORD AND GIFTS. Wherever and whenever His Word and Gifts are being received, it’s there and then that the Spirit’s at work, bringing the forgiveness of your sins, new life, and eternal salvation. As Jesus Himself promised, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you.”

INI + AMEN.

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