Read through the lesson below (if you are in a group take turns reading). Then have a discussion, possible questions are included at the end. If you are alone, try to pair up with others in a small group though texting or even a phone call.
Pentecost Lesson 2:
Recap: This year Pentecost will be on the 31st of May, only a few weeks away. In simple terms we are celebrating the start of the Church. The Day of Pentecost, when the Spirit came upon the disciples and they were transformed, and the beginning of the Church started that day.
The significance this year is that maybe, just maybe if all goes well it may be one of the first Sundays that we will be allowed to all be together again. We can only pray that this will be, and what a fitting and special day it will be.
Acts 2:1-42 (NRSV)
“When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability.
Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven living in Jerusalem. And at this sound the crowd gathered and was bewildered, because each one heard them speaking in the native language of each. Amazed and astonished, they asked, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each of us, in our own native language? Parthians, Medes, 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 Arabs—in our own languages we hear them speaking about God’s deeds of power.” All were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” But others sneered and said, “They are filled with new wine.”
Peter Addresses the Crowd
But Peter, standing with the eleven, raised his voice and addressed them, ‘Men of Judea and all who live in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and listen to what I say. Indeed, these are not drunk, as you suppose, for it is only nine o’clock in the morning. No, this is what was spoken through the prophet Joel:
‘In the last days it will be, God declares,
that I will pour out my Spirit upon 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 upon my slaves, both men and women,
in those days I will pour out my Spirit;
and they shall prophesy.
And I will show portents in the heaven above
and signs on the earth below,
blood, and fire, and smoky mist.
The sun shall be turned to darkness
and the moon to blood,
before the coming of the Lord’s great and glorious day.
Then everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.’
‘You that are Israelites, listen to what I have to say: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with deeds of power, wonders, and signs that God did through him among you, as you yourselves know— this man, handed over to you according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of those outside the law. But God raised him up, having freed him from death, because it was impossible for him to be held in its power.
For David says concerning him,
‘I saw the Lord always before me,
for he is at my right hand so that I will not be shaken;
therefore my heart was glad, and my tongue rejoiced;
moreover my flesh will live in hope.
For you will not abandon my soul to Hades,
or let your Holy One experience corruption.
You have made known to me the ways of life;
you will make me full of gladness with your presence.’
‘Fellow Israelites, I may say to you confidently of our ancestor David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. Since he was a prophet, he knew that God had sworn with an oath to him that he would put one of his descendants on his throne.
Foreseeing this, David spoke of the resurrection of the Messiah, saying,
‘He was not abandoned to Hades,
nor did his flesh experience corruption.’
This Jesus God raised up, and of that all of us are witnesses. Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you both see and hear.
For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he himself says,
‘The Lord said to my Lord,
‘Sit at my right hand,
until I make your enemies your footstool.’’
Therefore let the entire house of Israel know with certainty that God has made him both Lord and Messiah, this Jesus whom you crucified.”
The First Converts
Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and to the other apostles, ‘Brothers, what should we do?’ Peter said to them, ‘Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ so that your sins may be forgiven; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you, for your children, and for all who are far away, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to him.’ And he testified with many other arguments and exhorted them, saying, ‘Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.’ So those who welcomed his message were baptized, and that day about three thousand persons were added. They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.
The important parts that I would like to highlight this week (scripture in underlined type above) is Peter’s first sermon to the First Church, what many call the Acts 2:42 church.
We will be speaking on Peter’s sermon here today, so please reread it all, but most importantly we will be speaking about its final line, “Therefore let the entire house of Israel know with certainty that God has made him both Lord and Messiah, this Jesus whom you crucified.” House of Israel used here is to remind all of Israel, all of its people, that all the Jews are really one family. This is to get their attention on what has happened and their role in it.
Why is it that we have such an easy time of accepting Jesus as our savior, yet struggle against accepting Him as Lord? When I say Lord, I am of course referring to Him as our Master, our King, the Sovereign of our lives.
I was in the military for a number of years. Being told what to do and when to do it as well as how to do it brought me to a state of resistance to any authority over me. This was doubly hard for me because of its timing. See it is especially hard for young adults to submit. They have eighteen years or so of one set of authoritarians (parents) over them, then in many cases they leave home only to find another authority over them. In my case it was the military, but it could just as easy be a college or work that now is telling them what to do.
Our culture also does not help this much. All of our heroes are the rugged individualists that never play by the rules—the cowboy, or the good guy that is really kind of bad, the father, or other that are the reluctant hero that goes his own way and wins in the end. These are the things we dream about, not submitting to a master.
May I suggest that our perception of a master or that of anyone over us in authority has been altered to a purely world view. A view of a master that is punitive with malice and harmful intent. It is easy for us to see a benevolent savior, but a benevolent master is much harder for us to see and understand. It is a perspective. Is your perspective of God that of punitive or of benevolence? In either case, one still has to contend with Peter’s ending words, “God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah.” Jesus is both Lord and Messiah; both Savior and Master.
How will you answer Peter’s words? Will you accept all of Jesus or just the parts you like?
Can you see a master that is benevolent and loving to the point of only having good intentions?
Can you see the whole Jesus?
How will you overcome the world’s perspective of a punitive authoritarian?
Thank you, Pastor Perry