The Legacy of Pentecost

Welcome to Saint Kentigern’s Church on what is often referred to as the birthday of the Church. Today we recall the Day of Pentecost. Pentecost means “fiftieth”, … and today would be the fiftieth day of Easter. Our reading is Acts chapter 2, verses 1-21.

In this passage, Luke gives us an account of the Holy Spirit coming on those first disciples; we get the reaction of the people in Jerusalem; and finally, Peter’s explanation of what has happened.

So, firstly, the Holy Spirit comes at Pentecost

After Jesus was taken up into heaven, his disciples met and prayed together regularly. Luke tells us that when the Day of Pentecost cost came, the disciples were gathered together. Luke writes:

Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.

These three experiences all seemed like natural phenomena (wind, fire and speech). Yet they were all supernatural both in origin and character.

The noise was not wind, but sounded like it; the sight was not fire, but resembled it; the speech was in languages which were in some way “other”.

These three phenomena all appear in the Old Testament, and all originate with God. God spoke and creation came into being. God appears as a pillar of fire at night to lead his people out of slavery in Egypt. And, repeatedly, the Bible speaks of God refining his people by fire.

And the breath or wind of God is what gives life to his people.

In Genesis, the Lord God breathes the breath of life into the first man. Adam comes to life! On the Day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit breathes on those disciples, and the Church of God comes to life.

All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them. (Acts 1:7, NIV)

Secondly, we get the reaction of the crowd

The crowd who heard the disciples were utterly amazed because they heard these uneducated Galileans speaking in these different languages they could not possibly have learned. At the same time, the Holy Spirit was uniting them, because the disciples were all declaring the wonders of God.

Some, however, made fun of them and said, “They have had too much wine.”

Thirdly, we get Peter addressing the crowd

Filled with the Spirit, Peter stands up and addresses the crowd. Yes! There is a commotion. But nobody has been drinking too much wine.

Instead, Peter explains what is happening. And to do so, he quotes the prophet Joel. What they are witnessing on the Day of Pentecost is the fulfilment of Joel’s prediction that God would pour out his Spirit on his people.

This is one last and really important point to note! The Holy Spirit does NOT come to draw attention to Himself. NOR does He come with some radical new message of his own.

Instead, the Holy Spirit fulfils Old Testament prophecy, as with Joel’s message, … and he tells people about Jesus! On the Day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit began his work of equipping and inspiring the Church of God to take the Good News about Jesus into all world.

And whenever you dare to say that Jesus is Lord and tell someone else about him, you are sharing in the Church’s worldwide mission. The mission that began on the Day of Pentecost.

Peter finishes quoting from the prophet Joel with the words: “And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” (Acts 1:21, NIV)

The Holy Spirit reveals to us that the name of the Lord is Jesus. Those who believe and trust in Jesus make up his body, his Church, here on earth.

The Church of God is the living legacy of Pentecost. And when you call on the name of the Lord, you too are part of that living legacy. The Church of God whose birth was at Pentecost.

Let us pray.

Faithful God,

who fulfilled the promises of Easter

by sending us your Holy Spirit,

and opening to everyone who calls on the name of Jesus

the way of life eternal:

open our lips by your Spirit,

that our tongues may tell of your glory;

through Jesus Christ our Lord.


Revd Stephen Robertson

31st May 2020

If you have time, read Acts chapter 2 and see how Peter goes on to talk about Jesus.

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