Jun 10, 2019
Join us as we explore God's ancient wisdom and apply it to our modern lives. His word is as current and relevant today as it was when he inspired its authors more than two and a half millennia ago. The websites where you can reach us are alittlewalkwithgod.com, richardagee.com, or saf.church.
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Thanks for joining me today for "A Little Walk with God." I'm your host Richard Agee.
One of my kids lives in a little town in Texas called Bandera. It has this big sign as you come into town that announces that it is the “Cowboy Capital of the World.” Throughout the week, the population in the little rural town is less than a thousand, but when events happen around their claim to fame of being the cowboy capital, the place can burgeon up to 30,000.
I think of that little town and what happens there and can picture what Jerusalem must have been like on the three pilgrimages the faithful Jews took each year. The Roman soldiers had their hands full when these things happened. Jews from the known world gathered as the Torah required.
It was true at the previous festival, Passover. Extra soldiers were everywhere because of the festival. Visitors were packed into every space and all the surrounding villages. Tension was high then because riots were not uncommon. The Jews didn’t particularly want to be under the rule of a foreign government, but they were. The religious leaders wanted to rule the nation as the Torah demanded. The nation blew it when they put Saul on the throne and the religious leaders thought they could fix it.
They wanted power. They had power since they had the ear of the representatives of the Roman rulers. But the common people didn’t particularly care for the Romans. Now Jesus came along, and tensions got even higher. Another rebel. Another potential bonfire about to ignite. The soldiers would be the ones put in the middle to quell the violence if it happened. They would stop the violence with overwhelming violence of their own.
The Nazarene caused more than just tension that last Passover. The man called Jesus had a following, but the Roman’s crucified him at the bequest of the Jewish leaders. But now there was this group that saying the man wasn’t dead. This bunch of uneducated followers said they saw him rise up into the sky on clouds and saw angels who told them he was coming back. So now, instead of just one to worry about, there were dozens. No doubt the Roman soldiers were worried about this new influx of visitors into the city.
We’re talking about Pentecost, one of the three pilgrimages in ancient Judaism that brought thousands of Jews into the city of Jerusalem. Also called the Festival of Weeks, they celebrated the wheat harvest and the anniversary of God giving the Torah to Moses. The city burst at the seams with people. But in the middle of all the crowds, there was a small group that wanted something special to happen. Jesus told those who watched him ascend into heaven they should go to Jerusalem and wait power.
They had no idea what that meant at the time. Those 120 knew Jesus promised power but had no idea what it looked like or felt like. The disciples watched Jesus perform miracles time after time. They listened to his words in public and private. They sat at his feet for more than three years and watched him every day. But still didn’t know what to expect. Still, they followed Jesus’ command and waited. And in doing so, they followed his example and prayed while they waited.
A hundred twenty of those followers prayed in the upper room of one of the buildings in Jerusalem. Here’s what Luke said happened in Acts chapter 2.
A sound roars from the sky without warning, the roar of a violent wind, and the whole house where you are gathered reverberates with the sound. Then a flame appears, dividing into smaller flames and spreading from one person to the next. All the people present are filled with the Holy Spirit and begin speaking in languages they’ve never spoken, as the Spirit empowers them.
Because of the holy festival,there are devout Jews staying as pilgrims in Jerusalem from every nation under the sun. They hear the sound, and a crowd gathers. They are amazed because each of them can hear the group speaking in their native languages. They are shocked and amazed by this.
Pilgrims:Just a minute. Aren’t all of these people Galileans? How in the world do we all hear our native languages being spoken? Look—there are Parthians here, and Medes, Elamites, Mesopotamians, and Judeans, residents of Cappadocia, Pontus, and Asia, Phrygians and Pamphylians, Egyptians and Libyans from Cyrene, Romans including both Jews by birthand converts,Cretans, and Arabs. We’re each, in our own languages, hearing these people talk about God’s powerful deeds.
Their amazement becomes confusion as they wonder,
Pilgrims:What does this mean?
The sound of wind, the appearance of fire, speaking and hearing languages never known before. Power! Incredible deeds about to be done. Jesus told them they would do more than he did after he leaves and God’s spirit comes. These 120 begin to do incredible things. They burst out of the room ready to talk about what happened to them. They spread the word about Jesus. They felt compassion for those around them. They wanted others to know about the love they felt for all of those God created.
So that from the fifteen languages noted from at least as many countries these men and women began to disperse among the crowd and tell these pilgrims they came to the right place to find freedom. Not freedom from Rome, because that kind of freedom doesn’t really matter. They told of freedom from the guilt of sin. The blood sacrifices in the temple did so little, but the perfect sacrifice by the son of God, Jesus, frees us completely.
These men and women began doing things people could not explain. Why would they give what they had to others? Why would they associate with the low-lifes of the city and do things that would pull them up? Why would they promise hope to those who really had no hope in this life? Why would they promise forgiveness to those caught in the act of things everyone knows is wrong? Why would they talk about peace in the middle of this city bursting with soldiers ready to kill anyone who looked at them cross-eyed?
How do you explain Pentecost? You can’t except to say the church was born when the Holy Spirit fell on those 120 faithfully waiting for something to happen. And when it did, they were never the same. They began to execute the mission Jesus gave them on the mountainside the day he ascended into heaven. The power he promised became evident as they moved throughout the city and country and world. The power of God’s spirit moving through the lives of his people has changed the world.
Jesus said something would happen when those 120 waited for it. The same is true today. When we earnestly seek the holy spirit in our lives, he comes and resides not just with us, but in us. When he does, the powerhouse that raised Jesus from the dead on that first Easter, is the same powerhouse available to us to live in a world full of those who need God in the worst way.
We celebrated Pentecost this week. Enjoy the celebration. Stop and remember what it is about. Give thanks for the promise Jesus made to those gathered around him and the fulfillment of that promise 50 days later as God’s spirit rushed through that room touching the senses of those gathered there. The world has changed because of that day. You can be changed, too. Wait and pray.
You can find me at richardagee.com. I also invite you to join us at San Antonio First Church of the Nazarene on West Avenue in San Antonio to hear more Bible based teaching. You can find out more about my church at SAF.church. Thanks for listening. If you enjoyed it, tell a friend. If you didn't, send me an email and let me know how better to reach out to those around you. Until next week, may God richly bless you as you venture into His story each day.