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This Jesus, Whom You Crucified May 22, 2016

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Acts 2:14a, 22-36
Trinity Sunday
May 22, 2016

Focus: God delivers salvation in and through His Son.
Function: That the hearers confess their faith in the Messiah.
Structure: Recap/Sequel.

This Jesus, Whom You Crucified

As we celebrated Pentecost last weekend, we looked at Acts chapter 2, the events of that day, and the sermon Peter preached to the Jews. I told you then that our text was a two-parter, that we would have to wait until this week to cover the second half of Peter’s sermon. So let’s do a quick review of last week.
14 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. 15 For these people are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day. 16 But this is what was uttered through the prophet Joel:
17 “‘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; 18 even on my male servants and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit, and they shall prophesy. 19 And I will show wonders in the heavens above and signs on the earth below, blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke; 20 the sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon to blood, before the day of the Lord comes, the great and magnificent day. 21 And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.’

We talked about what Pentecost was and what it wasn’t. Pentecost isn’t about the disciples or the things they did or whether or not they were drunk. It wasn’t about mass conversions of people or something we need to try to reproduce. Pentecost wasn’t even about the miracle of speaking in tongues. Rather, it was all about the sermon Peter preached, the words he shared with the Jews. God shared the gospel message with His Old Testament people. This Jewish remnant was still clinging to the promise of a Messiah, and Peter delivered on that promise.
Then we also took the time to unpack Joel’s prophesy, seeing how it had multiple meanings. A last day referring to Good Friday, to Christ upon the cross, and also the last day we are waiting for, when Christ returns for us. And Joel proclaims that there is a name by which we will be saved.
So as we transition to our text today, to the rest of the sermon, we will see that name. The name of Christ. Because all of Joel’s prophecy, the sun, the moon, your sons and daughters prophesying, according to Peter, all of that points to Jesus in His death and in His resurrection.
You’re those sons and daughters. You’re the ones prophesying of a Savior. That’s what we do in speaking the Creed together. Flip back there. Look at it. “Conceived of the Holy Spirit, born of the virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried. On the third day He rose again from the dead.” Prophesies, prophesies fulfilled by Christ. You’re proclaiming them. Sure, it’s not speaking in tongues, you don’t have a flame resting on your head. It’s plain, and it’s simple. And it’s true.
This is what Peter preached. The gospel. The good news of who Jesus Christ is and what He’s done for us. The very power of God for salvation to all who believe. It’s nothing fancy, it doesn’t depend on our culture. And while you can think it’s optional if you want, it is real. It’s not optional to reality.
“Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know— 23 this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. 24 God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it.

This is the meaning of Joel. Jesus died and rose again. Look at how Peter talks, and remember who he’s talking to. These are the Jews, who believe in God the Father. These are the very same Jews who’ve heard of this Jesus, many of them have seen this Jesus. They know the stories, they’ve seen the miracles, they know what happened in Jerusalem during Holy Week. The man they killed during Holy Week.
But now Peter is making a bold claim. That death couldn’t hold Him. That Jesus is alive. That He’s risen from the grave and conquered death. That’s a mighty bold statement to make to the Jews. But Peter backs it up. He goes to their beloved king, King David.
25 For David says concerning him,
“‘I saw the Lord always before me, for he is at my right hand that I may not be shaken;26 therefore my heart was glad, and my tongue rejoiced; my flesh also will dwell in hope.27 For you will not abandon my soul to Hades, or let your Holy One see corruption.28 You have made known to me the paths of life; you will make me full of gladness with your presence.’

And Peter catches a key phrase. “For you will not abandon my soul to Hades.” You won’t let death win. David may not have had an exact blueprint as clearly as we do now, but he knew, he trusted in God’s promise of salvation. That there would be a resurrection. So Peter continues:
29 “Brothers, I may say to you with confidence about the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day.30 Being therefore a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that he would set one of his descendants on his throne, 31 he foresaw and spoke about the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh see corruption.

We can go just over there and see the tomb of David. He’s still in there. We have proof. So what was David talking about? What was he looking forward to? The promise. David counted on the promise of God that one of David’s descendants would sit on the throne forever. Jesus is that descendant. He was not abandoned to Hades. His flesh didn’t see corruption. Your Holy One will not see decay.
David trusted that a Savior would come to defeat death once and for all. And Peter and the other disciples are eyewitnesses that it’s happened. That “this Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses.” And so he continues with his sermon:
33 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 yourselves are seeing and hearing. 34 For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he himself says,
“‘The Lord said to my Lord, “Sit at my right hand,35 until I make your enemies your footstool.”’
36 Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.”

Let the word out, let the good news be known, let the world hear of its Savior! And the Jews listening to Peter that day, they believed. Even though our text ends, here’s what happened next:
37 Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” 38 And Peter said to them, “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. 39 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.” 40 And with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them, saying, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation.” 41 So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.
42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. 43 And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. 44 And all who believed were together and had all things in common. 45 And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. 46 And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.

Again, there’s way too much here for us to go in depth on it all. But what a day! The Jews were cut to the heart, they repented of their sin, they believed, they were baptized. Three thousand men.
The gift of baptism, that the Spirit is poured out, faith is created, promises and gifts given and received. For you, for your children. For all who are far off. This promise is for everyone. Baptism matters. It actually does stuff.
And so together they became the church. The New Testament church, the church militant. This is the Christian church, 2000 years ago, today, it is the same. The family of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. And so we follow their lead, their example.
That in the very midst of a culture of chaos that is seeking to rip apart your faith, what do we do? We devote ourselves to the apostles’ teaching, not our own understanding, but to the Word of God. And from that teaching flows forth a fellowship, a people, gathered together in a community, in a family, around Word and sacrament.
Pentecost, Trinity Sunday, every Sunday, every day of the year, it’s all about who God is, and what He’s done in Jesus for you. And then by the grace of God all that He has done is then confessed aloud by you for others to hear too.

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Why Aren’t They Burning? May 15, 2016

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Acts 2:1-21

Pentecost

May 15th, 2016

 

Focus:  God gives salvation to all who call upon the name of Jesus.

Function:  That the hearers call upon the name of the Lord.

Structure:  Not this…or this…or this…or this…but this.  (with thanks to Rev. Fisk for the outline via Worldview Everlasting)

 

Why Aren’t They Burning?

 

This morning we face an interesting challenge.  We face the task of figuring out what Pentecost is actually all about.  And it’s indeed a challenge, as so many Christians today focus on it all wrong.

Pentecost was such a great day.  Peter preached and people just rushed to be baptized.  If only we could have more days like this.  If only the church could be better, if only we could just live more lovingly, if only we could just do more good for our neighbors, if only we could just preach like Peter, then we would have more Pentecosts!  People would come to church, they’d believe.

Well, at least that’s what our brothers say who think we earn our own salvation.  They think Pentecost is about us, what great works we can do before the Lord.  How it’s about our preaching, our teaching, our connections, our reason and logic.  Our courage to go out into the midst of the unknown. But in reality, Pentecost isn’t about what the disciples did, not at all really.

Pentecost is a one-time event.  One and done.  God did something completely miraculous and He probably won’t ever work this way again.  And that’s alright.  It was for a purpose.  Here we have God the Father calling out to His children of the old covenant.  He’s calling out to the Jews in miraculous way.

And this brings us to another thing Pentecost isn’t about.  It’s not about that (points to pictures of people with burning flames on their heads).  This isn’t the burning bush.  We don’t have a random Jew saying “Hey, look, those guys are on fire, but they’re not burning up.  Let’s go see why.”  That also was a one-time event when God called Moses.  If the disciple literally were on fire, the Jews would have noticed, they’d have said something.

See, again, it has nothing to do with the disciples.  And while Jesus promised that the disciples would be baptized by the Holy Spirit and with fire, that’s a one-time deal, and it’s not what Pentecost is about.

The Jews don’t come up astounded at the disciples being on fire, because they weren’t.  They’re astounded by what they’re hearing.  And it’s more than the miracle.  It’s more than the fact that all these foreigners are hearing the disciples preach in different tongues. It’s like me going before a group of people from every nation under heaven and preaching this sermon and they can all understand.

That’s another one-time miracle of God.  And yet we have entire denominations built on it.  Who insist that if you can’t speak in tongues, you’re not a Christian.  Hogwash.  That’s just absurd, and it’s completely contrary to Scripture.  The apostle Paul realized that when he told Corinth, “in church I would rather speak five words with my mind in order to instruct others, than ten thousand words in a tongue,” (14:19).  Tongues had a purpose, and they were a spiritual gift, but even in Paul’s day, not everyone had them.

But it’s not the preaching style of Peter and the eleven that matters either.  Tongues isn’t what Pentecost is about.

Nor is this day about mass conversion, and something we need to figure out how to do again.  This isn’t a Billy Graham revival.  These aren’t hordes of atheists.  These aren’t your coworkers at the annual meeting.  This isn’t the Muslims coming to POBLO for aid.  This is a special, one-time event.

Pentecost is a one-time event in the history of the church.  If you were here last year for Pentecost, you might even remember me preaching about how this is essentially the day the church is born.  On this day, God works through His disciples to convert the remnant of God’s people, the Jews.  To call them out of the old covenant and its ways, and to call them into the new covenant in the blood of Jesus Christ, who He is, and what He’s done for them.

The whole point of all of this, what Pentecost actually is, is the what of Peter’s preaching.  It’s the words he actually shares with the Jews, as he proclaims to them the cross of Christ and His resurrection along with a baptism by water that puts an end to the covenant that God made with Abraham and with Moses.

And this sermon of Peter is so long that we will spend the next two weeks covering it.  Okay, it’s not really that long, but we do have two weeks to unpack all the Peter said to the Jews that day.  And it comes from a man the crowd thought was drunk.  When we think about it, we can understand why.  These guys are proclaiming that some guy named Jesus died fifty days ago, but three days later rose from the dead and has just recently ascended into the skies.  It sounds like something crazy a drunk might dream up.

But Peter connects to the Jews right away, quoting to them from the Old Testament prophet Joel.  And it’s something we’ll see him unpack in full next week, but for now, let’s look at the text he quotes ourselves.

We’ve spent so much time recently on the apocalyptic writings of John in the book of Revelation.  This piece from Joel is also apocalyptic, it’s considered to be end of the world stuff. But, as many good prophecies are, this “last days” language doesn’t just mean the Last Day, the end of the world.

The last days of Joel’s prophecy are first fulfilled on Good Friday, as the needs of sinners, the need of a hopeless people, is met upon the cross.  Sins forgiven.  Nailed to the cross; no more.  Christ has set you free.  On this first last day, God judges the world through Jesus on the cross.

This is the blood moon reference.  Not that the moon turns into blood, although I suppose on the last day it could, but in apocalyptic Scripture, this is a phrase used to mark a major historical transition.  Here, the blood moon marks a transition from the old covenant to the new.  The old covenant has ended, been put to death.  There’s a seismic shift on the cross.

There’s still more blood and more death to come in this prophecy.  Because on the second last day, the one we normally think of, God will judge the world apart from Christ according to their works.  For those who are in Christ, this is a day full of hope, of salvation, of life, of joy.  But for those who think they’ve earned it, from those who think they are gods themselves to those who simply think they can do enough good to make it heaven, that they can be their own Savior, it will be a day of great sorrow.  A day of death, a day of everlasting damnation.

This is the true meaning of Pentecost, the true importance of that day.  It’s what Peter preached, the death and resurrection of Christ, a baptism by water that saves in Christ.  And it’s ironic, because those congregations who are all about speaking in tongues don’t preach Christ resurrected and a baptism in which God comes to you to forgive your sins.  They’ve missed the whole point.

The covenant made on Mount Sinai has ended.  Jesus has done this.  “And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”  Peter names the name, he proclaims the goods, but for that, you’ll have to come back again next week.

 

 

The Work of Miracles May 24, 2015

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Acts 2:1-21

Pentecost

May 24, 2015

 

Focus:  God is working through us to share the good news.

Function:  That the hearers proclaim the good news with confidence.

Structure:  Walking through the text.

 

The Work of Miracles

 

I don’t think we do it justice.  Sure, we’ve given it its own day on the church calendar.  But I don’t think that fully expresses just what a day this is.  Here we are, some fifty days after the resurrection, celebrating Pentecost.

I just don’t think the disciples get enough credit here.  I don’t think God gets enough credit here.  All too often, this is seen as just another day, just another Sunday morning, just another chapter in Scripture.  But it’s not.  Pentecost is one of the greatest miracles in all of Scripture.  So let’s set the stage.

It was just about two months ago.  In His last days with His disciples, knowing that death was imminent, Jesus began to teach them the big picture.  No longer did they only discuss miracles, prayer, and love, but now they began to discuss the end times.  Things like, there will be wars and rumors of wars (Matthew 24:6) and you will be persecuted for your faith.

And then there’s the betrayal, the Last Supper, the arrest, the trials, the mockery, the torture, and the death of Christ.  And where are the disciples to be found, but scared, fearing the Jews to the point that they had locked themselves in a house.

And that’s where the resurrected Lord finds them.  Hiding, hiding in fear of persecution and death.  The church, as small as it was, had scattered.  The others who were following Jesus before have either abandoned the new faith at the sign of His death, or they’ve fled to other neighboring countries to avoid facing the same fate.

But not the eleven.  I can’t tell you why.  I’m not sure if they were so dumbfounded by recent events that they felt lost, confused, and without purpose.  I’m not sure if they felt that they somehow had to remain close to Christ, even though they thought He was dead and gone.  Or maybe God just did His thing and persuaded them to stick around.

However it was that it happened, on the third day, Christ rose from the dead.  And where did He go?  He appeared in that home, despite the locked doors.  He greeted them, He ate with them.  And before He departed, He left them with this message:  “And 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.” – Luke 24:49

That’s just peachy.  Remain in Jerusalem?  Remain in the city where everyone wants us dead, crucified just like You were?  Here we are, hiding in fear of the Jews, and you want us to stay?

And then we come to our text from last week, from the ascension.  Just before departing from them again, Jesus says to them: “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”  -Acts 1:8

Now that’s a mission statement.  You’re going to start right here in Jerusalem, with the very Jews that you fear.  And then you’ll work your way outward to the surrounding communities and you’ll keep going until the whole earth has heard My good news.

Shortly thereafter, they cast lots and replaced Judas among the disciples with Matthias, so they numbered twelve again.  And then we come to our text, we arrive at the celebration of Pentecost, which was an Old Testament holiday known as the Feast of Weeks.  This feast, celebrated fifty days after the Passover, was originally a harvest festival, but became a celebration of God giving the law to Moses on Mount Sinai.

And so here we are, at Pentecost, and we find the disciples together again, in a house, by themselves.  Sound familiar?  But then we get a miracle, the pouring out of the Holy Spirit, just as Christ had promised.

A mighty wind filled the house, and tongues of fire came to rest upon their heads.  That’s a hard sight to imagine isn’t it?  And even though this connects to John the Baptist saying that “He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire” (Matthew 3:11), that wasn’t even the best part.

“And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.”  This is one of the spots that this miracle is downplayed today.  There are some who simply discredit it, but there are others, like the Pentecostal church, who connect this to the spiritual gift of speaking in tongues.

But this isn’t that.  Speaking in tongues is a true gift of the Holy Spirit, you’ll find it in the New Testament, but it required another gift from another person, the interpretation of tongues.  If that gift was missing, then your gift of speaking was worthless, because no one could understand you.

But this isn’t that.  We have at least fifteen different nationalities represented among the group.  Bear in mind, this is a major Jewish holiday, just like the Passover, and so surrounding Jews flocked to Jerusalem.  And they’re here, and they all hear.  Each of them hears the disciples speaking in their own native tongue.  This isn’t speaking in tongues.  Nor can we can’t simply downplay this by saying the disciples each knew another language.

This is a miracle.  The Spirit has enabled these men to speak a universal tongue, to speak in a way that each person hears and understands in their own language.  No such event has happened before or since.  This is truly a unique miracle in the history of the church.

And while many were amazed, while many marveled at this miracle, others still sat there and said, “they are filled with new wine.”  That’s probably the dumbest excuse they could’ve come up with.  Let’s discredit them by saying they’re a bunch of drunkards.  But how many people do you know that when they get drunk actually start making perfect sense?

And so Peter takes advantage, he starts to speak for the group, ensuring them they aren’t drunk since it’s only nine o’clock in the morning.  And he begins with the Old Testament, he shares with them from the prophet Joel and then going beyond our text for today and into next week, he tells them about Jesus.  He tells them of Christ and what He has done for them by dying and rising again.  And he concludes by saying that “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.” (Acts 2:39)  And Luke tells us that about three thousand were baptized that day.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, Pentecost marks the day when the Christian church began.  And I want you to look back on this day, to reflect on this day and take heart, be confident because of it.

So often, fear overcomes us, too.  Those disciples who had locked themselves in a house because they were afraid, those disciples were the founding fathers of the church.  We’re talking about the early church leaders.  They, too, had moments of being overwhelmed with fear.  And yet Christ comes, the Spirit comes, and they grant us comfort.

They feared persecution.  Yet, when they overcame that fear in Christ and stepped outside, miracles started happening in their very midst.  The gospel was preached and the church flourished.  It’s ironic, Satan actually uses our feeling of comfort, of being comfortable, to hinder sharing the good news.  And when that comfort’s removed, when the church realizes that all she actually has is the good news of a Savior, and believe me that’s enough, she wants to share it.

So even in the midst of one of the greatest miracles in church history performed by the apostles themselves, there was opposition, foolish as it was.  So we can only expect that when we go out, when we share the good news of a Savior and His love with our neighbors, with our friends, with our coworkers, with people in Rochester, the Twin Cities and around the world, we can rest assured, we will meet opposition.

But we may also rest assured knowing that it is indeed God who does the work.  It is by your baptism that you can share God’s love with others.  And even then, it’s God working through you.  Because even this, one of the greatest miracles ever, was done by God.  The disciples didn’t have to be perfect.  They weren’t.  They were afraid.  And yet it was God who gave them courage.  It was God who gave them strength.  It was God who gave them the gift of speech and told them what to say.

Take heart, brothers and sisters in Christ.  This is a day we celebrate.  It is the Feast of Weeks, a harvest festival and the celebration of the giving of the law.  It is the very beginning of the Christian Church.  But it’s also great comfort and reassurance to us, that God is indeed at work among us.  That His gifts, His love, His sacrifice, His forgiveness, and His salvation are overflowing all around us.

The Boomerang June 8, 2014

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Acts 2:1-21

Pentecost

June 8th, 2014

 

Focus: God uses the Holy Spirit to bring us back to Him.

Function: That the hearers would readily work alongside the Spirit in bringing people to the Father.

Structure: Boomerang.

 

The Boomerang

 

We stand accused.  Throughout much of recent history, other Christian church bodies have looked at us Lutherans and pointed a finger.  They’ve accused us with the heresy of Christocentrism.  Now before you get defensive, let me rephrase that.  We’ve been accused of always making Christ the center of everything we do, whether in life or worship.

Well, when you put that way, yep, we’re guilty as charged.  When you put it that way, we’ll admit to that.  We’re more than willing to say that Christ is the center of our faith, He’s the One who gave Himself for us, He’s the One who saves us.  That much is true.  But when we push that too far, when we say that we worship Christ alone, we are risking heresy.

Sometimes we truly take Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 2:2 too literally.  “For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.”  His point was that that was the power of God for us, the Gospel proclaimed in all of its glory.  Paul certainly knew more about God and faith as he wrote thirteen New Testament letters.

We run the risk of heresy here when we ignore and neglect the Trinity.  Three in One, One in Three.  If we do not also maintain our faith in the Father and the Spirit, then the accusation is true.  Think for a moment, when was the last time you prayed to the Holy Spirit?

We tend to defend ourselves by saying that if we worship Jesus, then we’re worshipping the Father because He gave us our Savior.  And if we worship Jesus, then we’re worshipping the Spirit because the Spirit’s job was to bring us to faith in Jesus.  But the Trinity is more than that!

So today I wanted to give you another metaphor to think about, another tool to use to think about the ever confusing nature of the Trinity.  No metaphor can truly explain God’s perfection, but this one could still be helpful.

Have you ever thrown a boomerang?  I haven’t, and because I haven’t I know exactly what would happen if I did.  It would just keep going until it either lost the battle with gravity or until it hit something or someone!  Boomerangs are a precise art form, both an ancient hunting tool, and a modern sport.  It takes skill and precision to make it come back to you.

I want you to think of the Trinity as a boomerang, one that comes back.  God the Father threw it, and like a skilled master, it always returns.  Just as He said through the Prophet Isaiah: “so shall My Word be that goes out from My mouth; it shall not return to Me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.”

God the Father sent His Son, who sent the Spirit, who then works through us to share the Gospel, bringing people into the Spirit, who returns them to faith in Christ, who restores their relationship with the Father.  Simple enough?  Let’s walk through it.

Luke’s account of Pentecost really ties this altogether for us.  He helps us to see just how it is that this works in the midst of the fullness of the Scriptures.

It begins with God the Father sending His Son.  You can all quote for me one of the verses that spells that out for us, as it is perhaps the most well-known verse of the Bible.  John 3:16 says: “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”

This then is what the Gospels are about.  This is what Luke wrote 24 chapters about.  The life of Christ, the ministry of Jesus.  That He took on flesh and became man for us.  That He died on the cross to forgive our sins.  That He rose from the grave to give us new life.  All of these events lead up to Pentecost.  And it’s all part of why the Messiah came.

And then the Son sends His Spirit to us.  While still walking among His disciples, Jesus says to them, “Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you.  But if I go, I will send Him to you.”  (John 16:7) This, the Helper, the Counselor, the Comforter, the Paraclete, is best known to us as the Holy Spirit.  This is the same thing that Jesus promises the disciples just before He ascends into heaven in Acts chapter 1.

Father sends Son, Son sends Spirit.  The boomerang is still going, still moving farther away from the one who threw it.

Often times the Scriptures speak of God pouring out His Spirit on His people.  And we see this with Pentecost.  If our baptisms are like the splashing of water, a splashing of the Spirit, then Pentecost would have been like knocking over a water tower.  The apostles got drenched in the pouring out of the Spirit.  They not only get to prophesy, but they are speaking in tongues.  The twelve of them are speaking, and men from every nation under heaven are hearing their own native language.  Without a doubt, a miracle of God.

This was certainly a special day.  Nothing like it has happened since.  God starts His church with a bang, an explosion, the rapid growth necessary for it to really take hold and take off.  From 120 followers one day, to gaining 3000 the next.  That day was truly a blessing in church history, truly a blessing to each of us, as our ancestors heard the gospel.

Father sends Son, Son sends Spirit, Spirit works through us.  We are the turning point on the flight of a boomerang.  The point where it “lays over” and starts to return to the thrower.  Luke tells us “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,” (Acts 2:17).  The Apostles did it that day, the celebration of Pentecost, and we as the church have been doing it ever since.  Because prophesy, on the most basic level, is calling people to repentance, telling them about Christ.

But why us?  Why does God, the perfect Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer of everything work through us?  We’re cowards, afraid to speak the truth.  We’re weak, easily ready to give in to temptation.  We’re broken, there’s nothing good in us.  And yet, He chooses us.  He loves us and He makes us His own.  He puts the good in us, He is the good in us.  We are His family, His children, and He wants us to be involved.  He doesn’t simply look down on us and call us moochers or parasites.  No, He walks with us.  He works alongside us for the sake of His kingdom.  We get to be a part of that, and it’s all because He loves us as His own.

And so we are sent out into the world to do His work and to share His love and to proclaim the faith to others.  The Spirit leads us out and the Spirit brings us back.  He works faith and repentance in our hearts and then leads us to others so He can work faith and repentance in their hearts, too!

And so the boomerang begins to return.  The Spirit’s work points people back to Christ.  He points them to their Savior who died and rose for them.  Jesus told His disciples that “when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, He will bear witness about Me,” (John 15:26).  The Spirit brings us to Christ.

Jesus was quite clear that He completes this boomerang throw.  Pastor Fritsch preached on this during Lent, when Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through Me.”  Christ’s goal is to restore us in our relationship with the Father.  He wants to bring us back to Him, just like the healthy relationship we were created to have.

The Father sends the Son, Son sends the Spirit, Spirit works in and through us to bring men to faith and point them to Christ, who then brings them back to the Father.  Boomerang thrown and returned.

The key focus is the relationship we have with God.  A relationship He creates, nourishes, and sustains.  This is why Peter says what he does on Pentecost, quoting the Prophet Joel.  “And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” (Joel 2:32)  From beginning to end, God wants to be in a relationship with the people He created.

This is what we see on Pentecost.  We see the arc of the boomerang, the work of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit in planting the church and growing the kingdom of God.  We see men and women brought to repentance for their sins and joining with the others in the faith.  We see the apostles overwhelmed with the Holy Spirit to the point where it’s the Spirit who is speaking through them.

We’re not guilty of Christocentrism.  We believe and confess God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit.  And it is through that relationship that we know we will live with God forever.  And that’s the same confession, same relationship, same resurrection promise that the Holy Spirit is using you to share with the people around you.