Updated: Jun 3, 2020
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.
Recap: This year Pentecost will be on the 31st of May, a week 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 was simply the beginning of the Church. It all started that day.
This year it is to be the first Sunday that we will be all together again. What a fitting and special day this will be. It can all restart here, now!
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."
We have covered the Spirit, the same Spirit that came upon them on this day over 2000 years ago is the same Spirit that sits in the dark of the night with you as you read God’s Word and the same Spirit that is leading us back to Church after weeks of separation. The Spirit that joined those believers who heard Peter’s sermon 2000 years ago is the same Spirit that will help us to rejoin together next week as we listen to Pastor Scott’s sermon.
It is this joining that I want to speak to you about this week. As we can see in the last line of the scripture for our Pentecost study, “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.” All of them, all three thousand of them, devoted themselves to the way they were taught by the apostles. They fellowshipped, broke bread together, and prayed together; they were united as one in one Spirit.
If you continue reading on in chapter two of Acts you will see that they also shared everything in common. No one was without and God added to their numbers daily. But it was not just God working through the Holy Spirit that brought new believers to them. Yes, they had to sit and listen and devote themselves to the teaching of the apostles, which was good, but remember they did not have the Bible yet, no written New Testament. That would not come for hundreds of more years, and the printed one not until 1454. They could not hand out tracts and there was no one but them promoting this new Way, as it was called then. No social media, now LED church signs, it was them, all them, going to their neighbors, and friends, and love ones saying, “You’ve got to hear this man preach.” It was the Spirit that filled them and compelled them to tell others out of love. The Spirit converted the new believers and transformed them, but their eyes were opened, and their ears were opened, they understood.
For the rest of the New Testament we read about this miraculous Church growth, even in the midst of persecution. Why? Well for that we have to go backwards 50 days. Back to the last thing Jesus said to them. We read in Matthew this:
“And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 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, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20 (NRSV).
Jesus said for them and is still saying to us, Go. To Go and make disciples. Yes, the Spirit was with them, the same Spirit that is with us. Until every ear has heard and everyone knows the story of Jesus it is still our calling to do the same. Let us all commit ourselves to this task, this 2000-year-old task, of telling others about our hope we have in Jesus until every ear has heard. I realize that right now with all that is going on not everyone will just want to jump up and come to church with you next week, but you can still tell your story. It all starts with one telling.
Remember “All authority in heaven and on earth” goes with us. We can do this; we can make this rejoining of the Church on Pentecost 2020 as memorable as the first joining of the Church.
1. Who have you told about your faith, your hope in Jesus lately?
2. If you had invitation cards would you hand them out to invite others to Church? (We have boxes of them.)
3. Can you share your story over a cup of coffee? (All it cost is some time.)