+ The Day of Pentecost – May 31st, 2020 +
Series A: Numbers 11:24-30; Acts 2:1-21; John 7:37-39
Beautiful Savior Lutheran
Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
From the beginning of Scripture God reveals himself to us as the God who speaks. God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.
God spoke to Adam in the Garden giving them life, and promising their rescue from their fall into sin. God spoke to Noah and saved him and his family through the flood waters, safe in the ark. God spoke to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob delivering His holy covenant to bless all nations. God spoke to Moses in the burning bush about the His deliverance to come in the exodus. God spoke to his people Israel from Mt. Sinai, thundering the Law yet also declaring his covenant with them. God spoke to Moses again, in Numbers 11, as he poured out his Spirit on the 70 elders of Israel – a foretaste of the Pentecost feast to come in Acts 2.
God reveals himself to us as the God who speaks. And when God speaks something extraordinary happens. God’s word creates. God’s Word does what he says. God’s Word is an event. When he speaks things happen. Creation is made. Lame men walk. Blind men see. Dead men rise.
All of this forms a verbal backdrop for the day and festival of Pentecost we celebrate today. A day when the good news of salvation in Jesus goes out to all nations, people, and languages. A day when Jesus sends the promised Holy Spirit to fill the Church with his promise and peace. A day when the sin of Babel, and the scattering of God’s people is reversed – each person hearing the good news in their own language.
A day when God reveals himself to us as the God who speaks. God’s people were gathered together. They heard a sound like a mighty rushing wind. They saw the tongues of fire. The Holy Spirit filled their mouths and they spoke.
Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven. 6 And at this sound the multitude came together, and they were bewildered, because each one was hearing them speak in his own language.7 And they were amazed and astonished, saying, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? 8 And how is it that we hear, each of us in his own native language? —we hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God.”
On that first Pentecost, Jesus sent the Holy Spirit just as He promised. As the disciples spoke, God’s word was spoken. As it always is in Scripture, God spoke his Law that cut the hearers to the heart. The same is true for us as well.
For if God’s speaking reveals his desire for mercy, when we speak, all too often we reveal our sinfulness. Like Adam we war and rebel against and disobey God’s word. Like the world in Noah’s day, our words are full of wickedness and evil. Like Moses we doubt God’s word. Israel we follow our own will and words and desires rather than God’s word. We find ourselves in good company with the Pentecost crowds. They had crucified Jesus – not just physically, but spiritually as well. It was their sin, just as it was our sin, that nailed him to the cross. This painful reality cuts us to the heart too.
Thankfully, this is not God’s only word for us on Pentecost. Yes, when God speaks, he reveals and exposes our sin. But he also does much more. Something greater. Something that our words simply cannot do. When God speaks God creates. God saves. God rescues, redeems, and restores us. God speaks and simple water becomes a river of life in Holy Baptism. God speaks and ordinary bread and wine become a holy meal of Jesus’ body and blood. God speaks and in the promise of Absolution, all our sin is forgiven.
When our Lord speaks something extraordinary happens. Jesus’ words create life out of death. Jesus words bring peace into our strife. Jesus’ words bring comfort to our sorrows. Jesus’ words bring us the truth that answers our doubts. Jesus pours out his Spirit to fill us with life and light and love. This is what our Lord was doing that first Pentecost: pouring out his Spirit, his Word, his life – his speaking. And in his speaking, doing and giving what he promises.
For when God speaks, he is pouring out upon you his grace and mercy to you won for you by Jesus on the cross and delivered to you by the Holy Spirit.
You are like Adam, only better – a new creation baptized into Christ Jesus as God spoke his word of promise over you: I baptize you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
You are like Noah, only better, saved from the wicked world around by a lavish flood of forgiveness and washing of the Holy Spirit that places you in the safety of Christ’s holy ark, the Church.
You are like Moses and Israel, delivered and redeemed in a greater exodus that Jesus accomplished for you in his death and resurrection. God speaks to you – not in a burning bush or a pillar of fire and smoke – but in his holy Word that you read, hear, and sing.
You are like those attending the very first Pentecost hearing God speak in his promises this day, as we declare the mighty works of God. The mighty works his Word – his speaking accomplishes.
Today on Pentecost, and always, our Lord is the God who speaks. And when he speaks he saves you.
A blessed Pentecost to each of you…
In the Name of + Jesus. Amen.