INI + AMEN.
Spirit. Fire. Tongues. Languages. That’s what happened in our text. When we look at our text, we see the Spirit apparently putting on a big show, and so we think that’s what the Spirit’s all about. Big show. Big signs.
This sort of thinking is what allows false preachers to run rampant with false signs of the Spirit. Allows multitudes to be duped by false tongues, either of the person’s own making, or of another spirit’s making. Allows many to be drawn after other things as signs of the Spirit: good feelings, positive thinking, emotional highs, empowerment for more fulfilled living. In those preachers and those who follow them, the prophecies of Jesus and Paul come true.
But all those sorts of “spiritual” things aren’t Pentecost at all. That’s not the life of the Spirit. It’s not true spirituality, not true Christianity. You see, Pentecost isn’t back-then sort of stuff. Pentecost isn’t some distant memory. The Holy Spirit’s dwelling among us isn’t a one and done thing. We don’t have to reclaim anything to get the Pentecost sort of Spirit back. You see, the life of the Spirit, true Christian spirituality, Pentecost is here and now sort of stuff. Pentecost, the Spirit’s work continues—in the here and now, for you, for your benefit. In fact, it’s happening today—and every Lord’s day for that matter!
((2. The Spirit is wherever Jesus is preached.))
So, how is it that Pentecost is happening today? Well, you see, the Spirit is wherever Jesus is preached. That’s what the Spirit moved Peter and the other Apostles to preach. They preached Jesus, Jesus alone. They didn’t preach the Spirit. They didn’t have to! If you preach Jesus, the Spirit’s there in that preaching, enlivening it, working through it. If something else is preached (obedience, empowerment, morality, whatever), then the Spirit isn’t there. The Spirit is only present when Jesus is preached, His death and resurrection, His Word and Gifts. Just like with the Apostles on Pentecost. Or as Jesus Himself promised last week: “The Spirit…will bear witness about Me.”
In this preaching of Jesus we love Him. In hearing about His death and resurrection, in hearing His Word, in receiving His Baptism, His Absolution, and His Supper, we show that we cherish and hold dear not only His Word, but we confess for all to see and hear that we really do love Him. For to love Him is to listen to what He does and gives, and to listen to where He does and gives. This love, this listening, this cherishing and keeping is the fruit of the Spirit. To not listen, to not cherish, to not receive bears witness that there is no love for Jesus or His Word, that there is no life of the Spirit in the here and now.
This makes us a little uncomfortable. Maybe we just reject it. We just want to continue setting the terms of how this Christianity thing all works. We try and control the movements of the Spirit. Try and control Jesus and how He wants to come into our lives. We make ourselves God. We turn Jesus into an idea in our head, a feeling in our heart, a choice, a decision, a whatever else, rather than a living, breathing Jesus who comes into our midst with His body and blood on the altar that we can eat and drink, and in this way cherish what He tells us: “Take, eat; Take, drink; This is My body, given for you; This is My blood, shed for you for the forgiveness of your sins.” Jesus Himself says today: “Whoever loves Me, will keep,” will cherish “My Word.” You see, the Spirit isn’t just present in the preaching of Jesus. The Spirit is also wherever Jesus is delivered.
((1. The Spirit is wherever Jesus is delivered.))
Here again, Pentecost and the Spirit is here and now sort of stuff. It was here and now for those who heard Peter and the Apostles. It’s here and now for you, too. Because the “end” of the first Pentecost, isn’t the preaching of Peter. Pentecost wraps up with Holy Baptism. With people receiving the Holy Spirit in the water and word of the Font. That’s what Peter said, “Be baptized and you’ll receive the gift of the Spirit.” And those Baptized continued in the Apostles Doctrine, and the communion of Jesus’ body and blood, and praying together.
Pentecost wraps up in Acts 2 with the very same things we’re doing in our day! We have Baptism, we have the Scriptures, we have the breaking of the bread, we have the gathering for worship and praying together. The Spirit was only at work among those things, and the same is true today. In the Gifts that Jesus gave to us, the Spirit works to deliver Jesus to you and to all. Only there. That’s what Acts tells us. Multitudes were added by Baptism, by the preaching and teaching of the Apostles, by the breaking of the bread, by the worshiping together around all these things. That’s not just the end of Pentecost, that’s the beginning, the continuing of Pentecost to today, even till the end of the world.
Pentecost, the Spirit’s work, continues. He continually gives life to the Church but only where Jesus is preached and where Jesus is delivered in Gifts. That’s here and now sort of stuff. That’s today sort of stuff. In fact, what Acts 2 and John 14 tell us is that Pentecost isn’t a remembering of some cool Spirit action that we’ve got to get back somehow. No, that’s not it, at all.
PENTECOST IS HERE TODAY AND EVERY SUNDAY.
To go off elsewhere after other things isn’t Pentecost, isn’t life of the Spirit. Now, you could avoid Jesus’ Word and Gifts, as if it’s some choice among many other things that you could be doing on a Sunday. (I mean lightning won’t strike you if you don’t come. You’re life would remain pretty good.) But “whoever does not love me does not cherish my words,” He says.
But PENTECOST IS HERE—in this place—TODAY AND EVERY SUNDAY. The Spirit, too! You hear “the mighty acts of God” in this place (His death and His resurrection for you, for your sins, for your playing God), and you hear it “in your native language.” That’s Pentecost. Here is Holy Baptism that brings sinners forgiveness and the gift of the Spirit no matter their age. That’s Pentecost. Here is the preaching of Jesus. That’s Pentecost. Here are “the prayers.” That’s Pentecost. Here is “the breaking of the bread,” Jesus’ real body and blood for you. That’s Pentecost.
Pentecost isn’t long-ago, far-off stuff. In fact, PENTECOST IS HERE TODAY AND EVERY SUNDAY. Because Pentecost is Jesus’ Word in your ears, His body and blood in your mouth sort of stuff.
INI + AMEN.