Sunday 27th June 2021

by Nigel Malka 

            Acts from Chapter 1 to chapter 2 verse 4

Between Easter and Pentecost Jesus met with his followers a number of times

   On the first day Mary, then with Cleopas and his friend on the way to Emmaus,

      Followed by meetings with the disciples in Jerusalem then by the sea of Galilee,

         And the last time on the Mount of Olives outside in Jerusalem

            It is all outlined at the end of the four gospels and the beginning of Acts

         These 40 days would have been a rollercoaster of emotions for Jesus’ followers

      In Jerusalem they saw him hailed him as Messiah

   Loved for his preaching & healings, yet hated by priests for usurping their authority

The trials, the crucifixion, his resurrection the disciples future was uncertainty

  

We are going to look at the information given to us by Luke in Acts.

   In that waiting time after the resurrection and before the coming of God’s Spirit

      This is quite a long passage so rather than have it as a reading

   I’m going to paraphrasing the readings within the talk.

Your homework, is to read the full text Acts chapter 1 to verse 4 of Chapter 2

 

Luke finishes his gospel with Jesus telling the disciples the Holy Spirit would come

   Giving them power directly from God, then he left them and rose to heaven.

     In Acts he describes the ascension again but gives a little more detail:-

Then continues with the formation and growth of the church

 

For 40 days after Jesus rose from the dead he taught his disciples. Then when Jesus rose to heaven two men dressed in white stood beside them.“Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go.”

 

Luke first confirms Jesus, lived, died, rose and taught the disciple until his ascension

     Proving beyond doubt that he was and is The Son of God worthy to be made Lord

         How important is it to us there is life after death, that Jesus will come again?

              How are we living our lives to reflect this? How does our church reflect it?

     The Christian church story starts at the Ascension when Jesus left them

And go and do what Jesus taught them 

 

Luke continues:- When they arrive back at the room, the eleven  disciple joined together constantly in prayer, along with others making a group of about 120.

 

This would be a difficult time, Jesus has now left them, they were on their own

     They don’t know when he is coming back but given comfort that one day he will

         They had been told to wait for God’s Spirit  to come in power on them

The gift of knowing God’s mind enabling his followers  to carry out his work

 

 

We find that in this early time for the church that group prayer time is important

     Right at that start the whole group joined together constantly in prayer

         We’re assured Jesus is with us when 2 or more are gather together in his name

         Community prayer is vital to the heath and direction of the church

     There needs to be a purpose and a oneness of mind to the prayer

This of course needs to be in line with what God would want to happen

 

Luke now goes on to the business part of the meeting

Peter addressed the followers, “Brothers and sisters,  Judas betrayed Jesus, his evil allowed his arrest, Judas killed himself and now another needs to take his place of leadership all of which fulfils the Scriptures written by David.  

 

Calling themselves brothers & sisters the group already think of themselves as family

     Why Judas went to the temple to betray Jesus will never be known

         Whatever it was he must have felt he knew better than Jesus          

              Maybe it was a build up over a number of things

                   He knew he wasn’t liked by the other followers

              He was at odds with Jesus’ ways and disputed his actions

         When Jesus contradicted him about the anointing he felt isolated & revengeful

     Exacerbated and the last supper when Jesus told everyone he was the betrayer

It was then he went to betray Jesus for 30 pieces of silver about £6,000.00

    

 Fulfilling scripture or prophesies leads us down the path of fate and predestination.

     Which seems to go against the gift of freewill

         Simply, prophesies are well informed predictions of what will happen

     God who has that ability is then able to tell his prophets what will happen

  He not an interfering God but a loving intervening God,

Trying to guide his creation along a right path, which is why Jesus came

 

Luke tells us what needed to be decided at the meeting; Peter decided to replace Judas with someone who’d been living among them from seeing John baptise Jesus to witnessed the resurrection. Joseph and Matthias were nominated.  Then they prayed, “Lord, you know everyone’s heart, show us which of these you have chosen to take over this ministry, they cast lots and Matthias was added as the twelfth apostle.

 

Peter now takes on his role of leader and is accepted as such

     Jesus had set up the model of the leadership team Peter with James and John

         The disciples accepted Peter as leader and started working together as a team

              Willingly taking on whatever role was needed to be done

                   When decisions need to be made they came together first in prayer

              But without the Holy Spirit they left the choice to chance

     Why didn’t they ask Jesus who should fill the vacant spot before he ascended?

Wait for The Holy Spirit to come or put a ‘No-one yet’ in the casting of the lots.

 

 

Lastly we move on to the first 4 verses of chapter 2 At Pentecost they were all together when suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire separating out and coming to rest on each of them. They were all filled with The Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.

 

The Jewish religion celebrates the Feast of Harvest 50 days after Passover

Also they celebrate Moses being given of the law at Mount Sinai

When there was thundering, lightings, and God came in fire.

That sounds rather similar, to God’s Spirit coming upon the followers at Pentecost

As well as God revealing himself to Moses in the fire of the burning bush

 

These 120 followers heard a violent wind and saw what seemed to be tongues of fire

     It’s imagery is thought that the wind was to cleanse the house of any evil

         And in make it clean so it was then fit to welcome God’s Holy Spirit

              The tongues of fire to denote God’s Spirit being present,

         As in that burning bush and the pillar of fire leading the Israelites out of Egypt

     Fire will give light so we can think of it as being given the light of God’s Word

 

This is such a powerful image, the promised to us of God’s own Spirit had come

     Before it had happen to very special people given for particular tasks to carry out

         One problem with this image of tongues of fire in that some Christians feel

                   That unless people have a similar special awe occurring experience

              They can’t really have God’s Spirit and therefore are not really Christian

         This is nonsense, as Jesus tells us that all we need do is to make him our Lord

     Then we are giving four gifts, Faith, Forgiveness, Eternal Life and The Holy Spirit

 People may not use them or even be aware of having them, but they have been given.

 

The disciple were told not to witness Jesus until they had received God’s Spirit,

     They were well able to, having lived with him during his ministry

         They could have witnessed his healing, his teachings and his miracles

              So why were they told to wait until they had received The Holy Spirit

         Followers are given God’s Spirit for guidance so what is done is in God’s name

     Without The Holy Spirit then what is done is often for one’s own self advancement

Having God’s Spirit ensures one is putting God first not oneself.

 

When accepting Jesus as Lord, people are given The Holy Spirit

     We have God’s Spirit and we can accept or decline his help, that is up to us

         On my birthday one daughter gave me a book, the other a box of dates

              After 5 months I still haven’t started book but ate the dates within a few days

         My choice to use them or not. On our birth as Christians we are given gifts

     We have the choice to we use them, and in Acts we see them all used:-

 

Faith Certainty of God’s Love and encouragement in using it

Discerning Spirits To know good from evil

Knowledge Ability to learn about God’s Word

Wisdom How we apply God’s Love in our life

Healing The ability to make the body, mind and spirit whole again

Miracles To do things greater than Jesus

Prophecy To speak of things to come

Tongues To speak the words of God in a language we don’t know

Interpretation of TonguesTo understand and tell what has been said in Tongues

 

These gifts are key to living as a Christian, the more we use them the more we grow

     When we rely on using God’s Spirit, the more we are likely to live to our purpose

         That is to do and say those things that pleases God

     In everything we do, we need to do it in a way that puts a smile on God’s face

It’s simple without difficult theology, a follower of Jesus has the aim of pleasing God 

    

 I have little time for theologies who complicate Jesus’ teachings

     We have direct access to the teaching of Jesus, his words are easy to understand

         He says that by becoming his followers we have Him in us

              We have The Father in us and we have God’s Spirit in us

         The Holy Spirit will guide us in doing those things that will please God

     We need to have faith, a faith that enables us to be confident in our love of God

Then we learn to love ourselves and to love our neighbour Amen.