Waiting With Reason / Acts 2:1-21 / Pr. Ted A. Giese / Sunday May 31st 2020 / Day of Pentecost / Mount Olive Lutheran Church
Mount Olive Lutheran Church / Pr. Ted A. Giese / Sunday May 31 2020: Pentecost Sunday / Acts 2:1-21 "Waiting With Reason"
When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.
Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven. And at this sound the multitude came together, and they were bewildered, because 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, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabians—we hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God.” And all were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” But others mocking said, “They are filled with new wine.”
But Peter, standing with the eleven, lifted up his voice and addressed them: “Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and give ear to my words. For these people are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day. But this is what was uttered through the prophet Joel:
“‘And in the last days it shall be, God declares,
that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh,
and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
and your young men shall see visions,
and your old men shall dream dreams;
even on my male servants and female servants
in those days I will pour out my Spirit, and they shall prophesy.
And I will show wonders in the heavens above
and signs on the earth below,
blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke;
the sun shall be turned to darkness
and the moon to blood,
before the day of the Lord comes, the great and magnificent day.
And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.’
Let us pray: May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be acceptable in Your sight O Lord. Amen.
Grace peace and mercy to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Good Christian Friends. In the dead of night Jesus said to a man named Nicodemus “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” This Nicodemus the Pharisee replied to Jesus, “How can these things be?” [And] Jesus answered him, “Are you the teacher of Israel and yet you do not understand these things? Truly, truly, I say to you, we speak of what we know, and bear witness to what we have seen, but you do not receive our testimony. If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you heavenly things?” This same Nicodemus with Joseph of Arimathea had taken the dead body of Jesus from the cross and prepared it for burial, had placed it in the tomb and closed the tomb that first Good Friday and now as all the disciples and the other followers of Jesus sat together on the Day of Pentecost the city of Jerusalem still buzzing with foreign Jews speaking dozens of languages from around the world they all waited for a heavenly thing and as our second reading says today “When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place,” all in one place, all waiting.
At present because of the restrictions placed on all people in Saskatchewan due to the threat of the covid-19 virus we are not all together in one place; we are scattered and spread out, gathered around God’s Word yes but not physically together, and we like those disciples and followers of Jesus on that day of Pentecost are waiting for heavenly things. They already had some of them, they had faith in this Christ Jesus and faith comes from the work of the Holy Spirit in the preaching and reading of God’s word: the wind of the Holy Spirit had already blown through their hearts, through their minds, through the souls calling them together, enlightening them and drawing them to this Jesus and yet for another purpose, a purpose still mysterious to them Jesus had told them to wait, He with all authority had given them their marching orders in the 40 days after His resurrection that first Easter Sunday, telling them to “go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age,” and yet they were also told to wait.
When He was about to ascend into heaven to sit at the Father’s right hand, which we celebrated 10 days ago on Ascension Day, the Gospel of Luke tells us that Jesus gave them strict orders saying, “behold, I am sending the promise of My Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.” So for those 10 days they did just that, they returned to Jerusalem as directed because Jesus had following His resurrection before His Ascension, “opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and said to them, ‘Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance for the forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in His name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things.’” The complete mystery of Jesus was unfolding and they were, by the direct teaching of Jesus and by the workings of the Holy Spirit, understanding it more and more. The promised Holy Spirit was about to come to them from heaven: a sound like a mighty rushing wind, He was about to fill the entire house where they were sitting. And when the promised Holy Spirit arrived in this way divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and resting on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance. This was the clothing with power from on High that Jesus told them to wait for: The promised Helper from their heavenly Father, who Jesus promised who would be with them forever, who Jesus described as “the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him.” Yet Jesus said to them in the Gospel of John “You know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you.” So while they already had this Holy Spirit they still waited and when the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. It is a strange thing to wait for something you already have. Even on the first Easter Sunday the resurrected Jesus had appeared to most of the remaining disciples “breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.” That was 50 days earlier and now Peter James, John and Thomas and the rest of the disciples along with other followers like Nicodemus, and Joseph of Arimathea waited.
You have experienced a time of waiting. We have been waiting for and for well over 70 days, we have been waiting to receive the green light to proceed with life, to see loved ones as we used to see them, to resume our daily lives as we are able. We wait for the threat of the corona virus to pass, we wait for a time when we will all be able to be back together again … but what about the disciples and followers of Jesus: Apart from Jesus asking them to wait was there another reason why they needed to wait? Like I said they had their marching orders to go out into the word and yet … was there a reason why Jesus asked them to wait? Couldn’t the Holy Spirit come and cloth them with power from on high whenever and wherever He chose? Jesus had said to them that the preaching of repentance for the forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in His name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.
Just as they were arriving in Jerusalem right before Passover these Jewish pilgrims from distant lands had begun to hear news of a local Jewish Rabbi, Exorcist, Healer and Miracle Worker who was gaining in popularity all over Judea, Samaria, and Galilee named Jesus of Nazareth, they had heard that this Jesus had raised a man from the dead who had been dead four days in the tomb. The man raised from the dead was Lazarus and they could have, if they met him in those days, have walked up and shook Lazarus’ hand. Following this there was Jesus Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem with all its great fanfare which proceeded to stir things up. Then right at the time of the Passover this Jesus was betrayed by one of His followers to the Jewish priestly authorities and He was quickly pressed through a set of kangaroo style court cases which ended in His public crucifixion. Some of the guest in Jerusalem who had come from far and wide to celebrate the Passover also could have been there to cry out “crucify Him” before the Roman governor Pontius Pilate. Or perhaps some of them cried out “Hosanna!” on Palms Sunday as Jesus rode past on His donkey.
During Jesus’ Crucifixion they certainly would have noticed that the sky turned dark and that there was an earthquake and they would have heard that the massive curtain in the Temple which hid the Holy of Holies, the most sacred spot in all Judea, had ripped in two. In addition to all this there were reports that the tombs also were opened. And [that] many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised, and coming out of the tombs after [Jesus’] resurrection they went into the holy city [Jerusalem] and appeared to many. Then rumours started to spread that Jesus Himself had been raised from the dead and Jesus started appearing to people. Jesus appeared eleven times to people and groups of people in the 40 days between Easter and His Ascension into heaven. During one of those appearances of Jesus, He appeared to 500 people. And when Jesus appears He does things like eat food with His disciples. All of these things including Jesus’ Ascension back into heaven all happened in the 50 days between the feat of Passover and the feast of Pentecost and if you were in Jerusalem you would have heard about these things. How could you not!
So when Peter says to the crowd: “Men of Israel, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through Him, as you yourselves know. This man was handed over to you by God's set purpose and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put Him to death by nailing Him to the cross. But God raised Him from the dead, freeing Him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on Him.” When Peter says these words, the crowd is not without knowledge of the events of which Peter speaks, they can’t plead ignorant or dumb; they know who Jesus is, they had heard of Him, maybe even seen Him with their own eyes, heard Him with their own ears as He taught in the Temple. And now they were hearing St. Peter speaking to them and perhaps what was less clear was the fact that the Holy Spirit was at work also. Later St. Paul would write to the Christians in Rome saying, “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ. But I ask, [St. Paul says] have they not heard? Indeed they have, for “Their voice has gone out to all the earth, and their words to the ends of the world.”” This dear ones is what happened after Pentecost.
The Sermon from St. Peter that day would cut those hearers to the heart so much so that the crowd who at first had supposed the St. Peter and the rest of Jesus’ disciples and followers were drunk actually change their tune and ask, “Brothers, what shall we do?” [to which St. Peter answers them saying], “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.” The around 3,000 people who heard this and believed were baptized becoming witnesses to their friends and family both near and far many of them going out into the world as the disciples would soon be doing themselves.
While many of us are longing to “all [be] together in one place,” again in our churches, and I long for that too, do not forget that by the working of the Holy Spirit, through the hearing of God’s Word and His Promises centred in Christ Jesus you also have been witnesses to these things, to the Good news of Jesus Christ and His life, death and resurrection for the forgiveness not only of your personal sins but for the sins of the whole world and all people. When we are able to gather together again, it will be a little different at first but in time we will be together again as we were and now is not the time to hold off on sharing your faith with others, for in it the Holy Spirit is at work where and when He wills to be and He does not work in vain, for we believe teach and confess that “He [that is The Holy Spirit] calls, gathers, enlightens, and sanctifies the whole Christian church on earth, and keeps it with Jesus Christ in the one true faith. In this Christian church He daily and richly forgives all my sins and the sins of all believers.” And it is this same Holy Spirit who called us by the Gospel, enlightened us with His gifts, sanctified and kept each of us in the true faith. So have no fear of speaking, or sharing Services and Sermons like this and others we have provided for you online with your friends and family.
Back when Jesus was arrested the night of Maundy Thursday in Holy Week His disciples and followers scattered, Jesus foreknew this and foretold it when before His arrest when He said to them, “You will all fall away, for it is written, ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered.’" After Jesus was risen from the dead the scattered sheep were drawn back together again, after this period of scattering which we have been experiencing remember that the Holy Spirit will be at work gathering the church back together again in person face to face even as we are now gathered together by this same Holy Spirit around God’s Word and in Prayer in Christ Jesus. So too the Holy Spirit will gather the church together again.
Right after the baptism of the 3,000 on that day of Pentecost St. Luke in the Acts of the Apostles say that the fellowship of the believers in Christ Jesus “devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.” While we might not have the fellowship we are accustom to right even now Holy Communion is still available to you at Mount Olive, as is the reading and preaching of God’s Word and prayer. Continue to pray, come and join in Holy Communion, Hear God’s Word you are being prepared to reach out to friends and family, loved ones and complete strangers in need of Christ Jesus. The sound like a mighty rushing wind from Heaven, the divided tongues as of fire which appeared to them and rested on each one of them that day is not diminished. The power which they were clothed with from on high is spread through the whole Christian Church.
Keep in mind that the Jewish people visiting Jerusalem that year, along with the disciples and followers of Jesus didn’t know that they were about to receive a powerful encouragement from the Holy Spirit. That He would descend upon them in such a way to shake up the whole world forever. Even if they didn’t understand it that is what they were waiting for on the day of Pentecost all those years ago, waiting to be clothed from on high with power, waiting for the Holy Spirit to encourage them, to draw many to Christ Jesus in baptism and to send them likewise into the world encouraged.
The Holy Spirit does this not on their schedule nor does He do it on your schedule, just as you did not expect this pandemic, you cannot expect (or know) precisely where and when the Holy Spirit will act, what you can know and trust is that He certainly works His work where God’s word is read and preached and spoken and shared with others, and where the gifts of God are rightly administer in the sacraments. Remember through Christians the Holy Spirit begets more Christians, He freely utilizes us to this end, you have received faith in this way and others will likewise receive it in this way too. The Holy Spirit will draw people through faith towards Baptism and in that Baptism they will have the gift of faith. They will have an opportunity to then share their faith with others through the course of their life, those who are baptised and believe. We pray for an ever increasing growth of the Church even at this time. Think about your family, think about your children, think of those who have put off Baptism, those who have yet to be Baptized, those who have put off baptism for their children, these are the people to talk to and in talking to them, in sharing your faith the Holy Spirit will be at work gathering them together into congregations like our Church here at Mount Olive. Go therefore and share the good news of Christ Jesus for them, how it was for you; how it will be for them and encourage them knowing that the Holy Spirit is at work. Amen.
Let us pray:
Lord have mercy on us, Christ have mercy on us, Lord have mercy on us, “take our minds and think through them, take our lips and speak through them, take our hearts and set them on fire; for the sake of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, Amen.
 John 3:6–8
 John 3:9–12
 Matthew 28:19–20
 Luke 24:49
 John 14:16–17
 John 20:22–23
 Exodus 12:40–41
 Matthew 27:52-53
 1 Cor. 15:6
 Acts 2:22-24
 Romans 10:17–18
 Acts 2:37–39
 Luther’s Small Catechism, Third Article of the Creed
 Mark 14:27–28
 Acts 2:42