This is the sermon for The Coming of the Holy Spirit-The Day of Pentecost. The sermon text is: Acts 2:1-41. The sermon theme is: The Holy Spirit Reminds Us. Here is the Written Sermon.
The Holy Spirit Reminds Us
Forgetting isn’t fun. One of the frustrating things that can happen when you are in school is when you study for a test. But when you sit down to take the test there is a question there on the page that you know you studied for. But you can’t remember the answer. That’s not fun, ist it? So also, when you’re talking to someone and you had a really good point to make. And then, in the middle of your thoughts you forget what you were going to say. It’s not fun to forget. And if it’s not fun to forget our words, then how much more frustrating is it to forget God’s word to us? In the book of Acts, chapter 2, we read these words: “5 There were Jews living in Jerusalem, devout men from every nation under heaven. 6 When this sound occurred, a crowd came together and was confused because each one heard them speaking in his own language. 7 And they were astounded and amazed, saying, “Look, aren’t all these who are speaking Galileans? 8 How is it that each of us can hear in our own native language? 9 Parthians, Medes, Elamites; those who live in Mesopotamia, in Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, 11 Cretans and Arabs—we hear them speaking the magnificent acts of God in our own languages.” 12 They were all astounded and perplexed, saying to one another, “What could this be?” 13 But some sneered and said, “They’re full of new wine!”” (Acts 2:5–13 HCSB)
As we move into these words it’s important for us to have some background information. In verse five Luke tells us that there were devout, God-fearing Jews from all around the world in Jerusalem at that time. Why were they all there in Jerusalem at the same time? They were devout Jewish men. And because they were devout, they cared about what God’s word said. And way back in the Old Testament the Lord told his people these words: “22 “Observe the Festival of Weeks with the firstfruits of the wheat harvest, and the Festival of Ingathering at the turn of the agricultural year. 23 Three times a year all your males are to appear before the Lord GOD, the God of Israel.” (Ex 34:22–23 HCSB)
Why was Jerusalem filled with men? Jerusalem was filled with men because these were men who read God’s word and knew what it said. They knew that three times a year for these festivals they needed to be in Jerusalem. So they came. But when they came they saw something entirely different than what they expected. They saw fire settling down on the top of the heads of twelve men. And there was smoke floating up in a column above their heads. And these same men spoke in their own languages with words they could understand.
This would have been a surprising and shocking event to see. And it would have been difficult to know what to do with all this. And so, not knowing what to do about this, there were some who joked, saying that they must have been drunk. Peter then stands up and corrects them. He tells them these words: “14 But Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice, and proclaimed to them: “Men of Judah and all you residents of Jerusalem, let me explain this to you and pay attention to my words. 15 For these people are not drunk, as you suppose, since it’s only nine in the morning. 16 On the contrary, this is what was spoken through the prophet Joel: 17 And it will be in the last days, says God, that I will pour out My Spirit on all humanity; then your sons and your daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, and your old men will dream dreams. 18 I will even pour out My Spirit on My male and female slaves in those days, and they will prophesy. 19 I will display wonders in the heaven above and signs on the earth below: blood and fire and a cloud of smoke. 20 The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the great and remarkable Day of the Lord comes. 21 Then everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” (Acts 2:14–21 HCSB)
Peter boldly stands up and tells them that obviously these man can’t be drunk. Why? People don’t get drunk in the morning. They get drunk at night. Then Peter answers for them the real question behind their jokes: what is going on? What is going on is that hundreds of years before that day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit promised to pour out his Spirit on them. He promised to show on the outside the faith that he gave on the inside. He promised to tear down the barriers between peoples. And on that day of Pentecost, Peter lets them know that they had forgotten it. Like a child studying for a test and then forgetting the answer, they were devout men. They had studied God’s word. But they had forgotten it. And as a result they had forgotten that God would go out of his way to give all believers the same status.
This too is what we forget today. The Holy Spirit has gone out of his way to tear down and break down all the barriers between us as Christians. But what do we do? We put them back up again. We build them up board by board, brick by brick by gossiping instead of communicating. We build them by making sure that our wants and desires are done and trampling over the desires of others. In all of this we show that forget too. We forget that our status is the same as the person next to us. We are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.
So what does the Holy Spirit do with this problem? He reminds us. He reminds us what we forgot. He reminds us that even though there used to be all these barriers and divisions between us because of our sin, we are free, we are forgiven—all of us, equally. He reminds us what Peter preaches here: “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” (Acts 2:21 HCSB)
Peter reminded these devout men gathered there that they had forgotten what they had learned. The Holy Spirit was fulfilling prophecy right in front of their eyes. And, no doubt, they felt a little embarrassed. But Peter was just beginning. He tells these men: “22 “Men of Israel, listen to these words: This Jesus the Nazarene was a man pointed out to you by God with miracles, wonders, and signs that God did among you through Him, just as you yourselves know. 23 Though He was delivered up according to God’s determined plan and foreknowledge, you used lawless people to nail Him to a cross and kill Him. 24 God raised Him up, ending the pains of death, because it was not possible for Him to be held by it. 25 For David says of Him: I saw the Lord ever before me; because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken. 26 Therefore my heart was glad, and my tongue rejoiced. Moreover, my flesh will rest in hope, 27 because You will not leave me in Hades or allow Your Holy One to see decay.” (Acts 2:22–27 HCSB)
Peter tells them that they didn’t just forget the words of the prophet, Joel. They also forgot the words of the prophet, David. David, speaking by the Holy Spirit, said “you will not allow your holy one to see decay.” Now, obviously David wasn’t speaking about himself. How do we know? David died, was buried and they could visit the tomb any time they wanted to. In other words, David’s body saw decay—about a thousand years of decay. But God raised Jesus from the dead. They put Jesus on that cross. They put Jesus in that tomb. They missed the truth of David’s prophecy. And they missed the joy of Christ’s resurrection.
Not surprisingly, if they were uncomfortable at forgetting the words of Joel, they were terrified at forgetting the words of David about the Messiah. And they ask the apostles this question: “Brothers, what must we do?” (Acts 2:37 HCSB)
Notice what Peter says in response: “38 “Repent…and be baptized, each 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, as many as the Lord our God will call.”” (Acts 2:38–39 HCSB)
The Holy Spirit calls these men and through the preaching of his word gives them faith to repent. He gives them faith to see their sins and be sorry for them. He gives them faith to cling to the forgiveness that Jesus won for them on the cross. He gives them these forgiving waters of baptism which takes this forgiveness that Jesus won for them and specifically, individually, personally gives this salvation to each of them and even to their little, tiny infants and children. They ask a terrified question, “what should we do?” The Holy Spirit gives them a promise. Through this gift of faith and through these waters of baptism their sins are forgiven.
The prophecies these men forgot we too need to hear today. It wasn’t just those men who put Jesus there on that cross. We did too. Jesus died because our gossip, our greed, our lust, our lies. And every single time we cherish our sin and plan to do it more we forget the price our Savior paid.
But look what the Holy Spirit does. He does for us the very same thing he did for those men gathered there. He shows us our sins. He moves faith to repent. He takes the forgiveness that Jesus won for us on the cross and individually, specifically and personally gives it to each and every one of us. He reminds us that because Jesus died and now lives we are at peace with him.
And so, my brothers and sisters in Christ, you might forget some answers on tests. You might forget the the impressive point you were just about to make when you are talking with someone. And you will forget so many other things. But don’t forget what the Holy Spirit reminds you of today. Don’t forget these two lessons: First, all of you have the same status. Let there be no barriers and divisions in and among you. Second, remember this gift of repentance and baptism the Holy Spirit has given to you. Cringe away from your sin. Cling to those saving waters of baptism. Amen.