(John 20:19-23 and Acts 2:1-21)
By Rev. Dr. Sergio Arevalo, Jr.
Eagle Rock Lutheran Church
Los Angeles, Ca
June 08, 2014 (Pentecost Sunday)
One New Year’s Day, in the Tournament of Roses parade in Pasadena, California, a beautiful float suddenly sputtered and quit. The truck was out of gas. The whole parade was held up until someone could get a can of gas. The amusing thing was this float represented the Standard Oil Company. With its vast oil resources, its truck was out of gas.
Often, Christians neglect their spiritual maintenance, and though they are “clothed with power” (Luke 24:49) find themselves “out of gas,” actually they are out of power from God (sermonillustrations.com).
I. Jesus Comforts His Disciples (v.21).
It was the evening of the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked because they were afraid of the Jews. Jesus came and stood among them. He greeted them, “Peace be with you.”
As I mentioned in my recent Easter message, Jesus’ greeting of “peace” (vv. 20:19, 21, 26) to his disciples during that time was a timely manner, simply because they were perplexed, afraid of the Jews, and had doubts. As agents of Christ’s mission to the world with unstable minds might hinder their important missions.
Jesus knew that, that was why he told them “Peace be with you!” It was like “Make whole your minds.” Repetition of that kind of greeting may mean the importance and urgency of peace and calmness in their hearts and minds.
II. Jesus Gives Authority and Power (v.22-23, Acts 2:1-21).
2.1. The Holy Spirit Gives Gifts, and Power (v.22). In Acts 1:8, it says that “you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you.” Dunamis is translated “power” which may also translate to strength, force, or miraculous power. Every Christian needs this kind of power. Our cellphone is useless if it has low battery or without energy, or without electricity. It needs to be plugged in after its power is drained. Same with us, we need to plug in with the source of power, the Holy Spirit, to make us powerful in our faith and service to God.
Look at the life of the Apostle Peter. He denied Jesus three times simply because he was weak then, simply because he was not yet empowered by the Holy Spirit. However, when he was empowered by the Spirit on the Pentecost Day, he became bold, powerful and willing to surrender his life for the sake of the Gospel. He boldly preached before the multitude, and in just one preaching he converted about 3000 people. Indeed, the Spirit helped Peter in his preaching.
During the Pentecost, the Spirit gave manifold gifts such as prophecy, some dream dreams, some can see visions, some can see, and interpret signs and wonders, etc. In the Epistles of Paul, he mentioned more gifts probably also given during that time, but missing in the account or probably not yet discovered by the receivers.
The Apostle Paul mentions several gifts of the Holy Spirit in I Corinthians 12:4-11 such as utterance of wisdom, utterance of knowledge, healing, working miracles, prophesy, discernment of spirits, various kinds of tongues, interpretation of tongues, etc.).
You might argue why other brothers have gift of healing, and you have none. Our gifts (charisma) are depending on the Giver, the Holy Spirit, verse 11 says, “All these are activated by one and the same Spirit, who allots to each one individually just as the Spirit chooses.” (NRSV). We do not work for the gifts, it is just given to us, according to God’s will.
On the other hand, probably that gifts are already within us. The NRSV translates “All these are activated…” the work of the Holy Spirit then is just to activate them. God has already given us the charisma within us, the Holy Spirit activates them, and we will just explore, test and use them.
2.2. The Authority to Forgive Sins (v.23). Jesus says, “If you forgive people’s sins, they are forgiven. If you retain people’s sins, they are retained.” That’s why until now the Roman Catholic Church practices confession of believers to the priests. However, for us Protestants, we believe in the priesthood of all believers that’s why that authority is not only for the professional priests, but also for lay priests.
However, Mark 6:14-15 says, “Because if you forgive people their offenses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive people their offenses, your Father will not forgive your offenses.” So what shall we do? Forgive our transgressors, forgive our enemies, and forgive them even though they are not asking for it.
III. Jesus Entrusts His Mission (v.21).
Jesus entrusted the gospel to his disciples. He commanded them, “As the Father has sent me, and so I am sending you.” The Lord has given us the power of the Holy Spirit for us to use it in God’s mission. Going to the mission fields without power from above, we could be easily defeated by our enemies. Look, the apostle Peter preached, and he converted about 3000 people. The apostle Paul healed the sick, and endured hardship in going to other lands for God’s mission. They did all of them due to the power of the Holy Spirit.
IV. Jesus Instructs His Disciples
4.1. To wait (Luke 24:49, Acts 1:4-5) Jesus says, “Stay here in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.” Waiting is not an easy task.It will test our patience, it will test our love, and it will test our faith. But we need that sometimes, like what Jesus told to his disciples, “stay!” and the disciples stayed in the city waiting for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.
4.2. To constantly pray (Acts 1:14). While they were waiting for God’s will, for the power to come, they were praying. The secret of church growth in Korea is because of fervent prayers of believers. They pray more, when they are in the church, they do pray before the worship starts. They pray while the pastor preaches. They pray before they give their money in the offering box, they go to their prayer booths to pray, they go to their prayer mountains to pray and fast.
I know all of us want to experience like what the disciples did experience on the Pentecost day. Actually that outpouring of the Spirit to them was not just one time event. They did experience that many times if you will just study the book of Acts.
We Christians must be filled with the Spirit always. That’s why we need to always plug in to the source of power which is the Holy Spirit.
Let me give you points on how to be filled with the Spirit always based on the word of God.
- Make sure that you are born again or have faith in Jesus Christ (John 3:16).
- Make sure that you thirst for God’s Word (I Peter 2:2).
- Make sure to ask in prayer for the infilling of the Holy Spirit (John 14:6).
- Make sure to use it for God’s service, esp. sharing the Gospel.
To end this message, let me give you what D.L Moody once said, “I believe firmly that the moment our hearts are emptied of pride and selfishness and ambition and everything that is contrary to God’s law, the Holy Spirit will fill every corner of our hearts. But if we are full of pride and conceit and ambition and the world, there is no room for the Spirit of God. We must be emptied before we can be filled.”