Damariscotta Baptist Church
Monday, May 21, 2018
Growing personal relationships with God and community

01/31/16 Sermon - What Should We Do?

“What Should We Do?”

Acts 2:22-41

 

Today our Scripture reading was a continuation of Peter’s sermon following the extraordinary experience of the Holy Spirit arriving at Pentecost.

Some of you may remember last week we read how the Spirit arrived with a strong wind and tongues of fire reaching out to everyone in the room. Those in the room were given the gift of the Spirit, and began speaking in “other tongues”. At the same time, Jewish people who happened to hear the commotion from outside, came rushing in the room to see what was happening. They were amazed as the Spirit enabled them to hear their native tongue being spoken. It was at this point that Peter began his exhortation, and began preaching to the crowd. Peter’s message has two distinct parts, the first part we looked at last week, where Peter interpreted the events happening as a fulfillment of the “last days” as described by the prophet Joel. Joel had written about God’s promise to pour the Spirit out on all the people.

The second part of Peter’s message was read today, and focuses on Jesus, especially upon his death and resurrection, but more importantly that these were a part of God’s original plan and this plan had been revealed in the Psalms.

As Peter gets to the end of his message, he relates the story of Jesus, back to the experience of Pentecost and that it was Jesus, who in fact, poured out the Holy Spirit.

And he declares that it was Pentecost that actually triggers the followers of Jesus to realize what they had been blind to all along. The Pentecost events opened Peter’s eyes and he began to explain how Jesus had been the fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecies and by doing so, demonstrated how Jesus truly is “both Lord and Christ”.

This second portion of Peter’s message can be summarized into three parts:

The first part, verses 22-24, is a summary of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection

The second part, verses 25-31, interprets Jesus’ resurrection as a fulfillment of the prophecy in Psalm 16:8-11

And the third part, verse 32, claims Jesus’ resurrection as an act of God and that the apostles were eye witnesses

Before we continue, I want to set the stage of characters in the room and what has occurred.

There are approximately 120 followers of Jesus in an Upper Room, and they have been there, waiting. They consist of the now 12 disciples, apostles at this point.

They are no longer disciples, as they are no longer following Jesus as their teacher and learning. From this point onward, they are on a mission, sent by Jesus to make disciples of all the world. As eye witnesses, their first assignment was to wait for the gift of the Holy Spirit. To get a sense of how that might have felt, there are about half that number of people sitting in this room right now. We are familiar with each other, maybe not as familiar as these followers may have been after spending three years living as wanderers around the countryside, but for the moment, how would you have felt if you were told to go to this room and wait for the Holy Spirit to arrive. You have no idea when exactly or how or exactly what that means, and you have just experienced the death and resurrection of the Messiah. If there was anything in the room, there must have been tension and anxiety.

Well, the Holy Spirit arrived, with a bang, which shook up those in the room as well as those in the street. Now remember where they were, they were in the city of Jerusalem, which at this point and time was inhabited exclusively by Jews. At the sound of the wind and fire, Jewish men rush into the room to see what was happening. These same Jewish men would have been in Jerusalem during the Passover and the crucifixion of Jesus. They were most likely aware of whom the group of people were who had been camping out in this room waiting. It would have been difficult to keep it a secret. And as soon as they arrived and began questioning the event, Peter was emboldened by the Holy Spirit to begin preaching.

It was like a light bulb went on, and Peter began putting 2 and 2 together, and came up with 4 this time. The Jewish people who had walked in, were the same men who had earlier shouted for Barabbas, the guilty prisoner, to be freed, and had eagerly prompted the crucifixion of the innocent prisoner, Jesus. As Peter summarized the story of Jesus, he demonstrated that the crucifixion of Jesus was in God’s plan, all along, and those in the audience played the part of evil conspirators, with the help of some wicked men, verse 23.

I think it is important to note that Peter was not indicting all Jews of killing Jesus. I have heard it said that the Jews are “Christ-killers”. Which is not true. Peter clearly did implicate his audience of taking a part in Jesus’ death, but he was addressing a particular group of people at a particular time. Yes, they were Jewish, but so was Peter and the rest of the apostles for that matter. The fact is, the Romans also had a major role in the event, which Peter alluded to by including the statement, “with the help of wicked men”. Peter was not overly concerned with who killed Jesus, Peter’s main focus was that God had a plan and

Jesus’ death and resurrection were significant parts of His plan.

The Holy Spirit again assisted Peter by bringing to mind an Old Testament verse from Psalm 16, where David wrote of not being abandoned to Hades, or experiencing corruption.

Peter explained that David could not have been speaking of himself, because David was still buried, at a grave they could all go and visit. Therefore, Peter claimed David must have been writing about the Messiah, Jesus.

Pentecost has become the climax to God’s story, and Peter has been given eyes to see the whole story. What happened to Jesus was not a new story, it was the continuation of God’s story since the beginning of time.

If you can remember your high school English class, where your teacher put down the elements of a story, with a plot and plot diagram, it would have been something like this. There would have been a mountain shape drawn on the board, and at the base of the mountain would have been the word, “exposition”. This is where the author sets up the story including characters, setting and main conflicts. The Old Testament is full of characters and settings, where the basic conflict is good vs. evil and from the beginning there is a particular battle between Satan and an offspring of woman, we read about it in Genesis 3:14,

Then the Lord God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, you are cursed more than all animals, domestic and wild. You will crawl on your belly, groveling in the dust as long as you live.  And I will cause hostility between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring.  He will strike your head, and you will strike his heel.”

 

Then as you go up the left side of the mountain your plot diagram would read, “Rising Action”, this is where conflicts start to build just like when you climb a mountain you are moving further along.

Which as we read the Old Testament and the Gospels of the New Testament, we discover conflicts and the prophecy of a Messiah and in the Gospels the emergence of the Messiah.

 

 

 

Many think the climax of Jesus’ story is the crucifixion and the resurrection. Although they are necessary for the climax to occur, the world of humanity doesn’t change until Pentecost.

 

 

 

It’s in this upper room, when the violent wind shakes the followers of Jesus, and the tongues of flames touch their heads, and the baptism of the Holy Spirit floods their being, that the formation of the Christian Church, Christ’s Church begins.

 

 

 

From this point on, we no longer have dumbfounded fishermen and tax collectors, we have apostles.

 

 

 

And just like our Plot Diagram demonstrates, the story begins down the other side of the mountain, and we have “Falling Action”.

Things start to work themselves out in the story. The disciples are given a mission, and become apostles, and the story they have to tell is so earth shattering, they cannot keep it to themselves.

 

 

 

We haven’t made it to the bottom of the other side of this diagram, the “Resolution” will occur, when Jesus returns to earth again, to resolve the conflict for eternity.

 

 

 

In the meantime, the Holy Spirit is still here, today, in this place, in amongst us. We are part of God’s story, the resolution has not occurred so that leaves us somewhere in the “Falling Action.”

Things are still trying to work themselves out. There are still those who need to be reached with the gospel. It’s up to us to bring the gospel to them. When the Holy Spirit comes to you; you are called to be God’s witness, a quote from Jesus himself in Acts 1:8.

 

 

 

I would like us to reflect on the work of the Spirit in our own lives. How can we understand God’s work in, and among, and through us as part of the story of Jesus? Maybe we have been like the disciples, before Pentecost, we believe, but we are not quite sure exactly what we believe, at least not in a way that we feel confident to share with others, in a way they would not only understand us, but also believe and put their life into the hands of Jesus. I’m suggesting we experience a transformation similar to that of Peter and the disciples, which occurred with the baptism of the Holy Spirit. From that point on they “got it” and they were bound to “share it.”

 

 

 

Oh dear! 

 

 

 

Do you think I might be suggesting you step out of your comfort zone and share the gospel?

 

 

 

Proselytize?

 

 

 

Yes, and No.

 

 

 

If you are a Christian, the Holy Spirit resides in you. The question is, how much power do you give Him? We just read He can become a violent wind and tongues of fire and change people’s lives. The problem seems to be, many of us just might not want our lives changed that much. We just might like things pretty much the way they are.

 

 

 

That’s all fine and good, but I am here to share with you today, that our own stories cannot be meaningfully connected to Jesus until we begin viewing all that God performs in and through our lives through the lenses of the symbols of the cross and the empty tomb. The way Peter and the other disciples did.

 

 

 

And those lenses look like and are the power of the Holy Spirit.

How easily we forget the power of the Holy Spirit that empowered us to accept Jesus and claim Him as Lord over our lives.

 

 

 

Sounds good Marilee, and your next question should be the same  question those who were listening to Peter asked,

 

 

 

“But what should we do?

 

 

 

I suggest we take our lead from Peter and the rest of the apostles. Peter’s message in today’s Scripture did not come about after Peter had spent a week reading commentaries and studying his Old Testament. The Holy Spirit arrived, and Peter starting sharing, his experience. Peter’s experience included the reading of the prophet Joel and the Psalms of David, when he was a little boy. He took what he already knew and with the help of the Holy Spirit, spoke. And look at the results, verse 41,

 

Those who believed what Peter said were baptized and added to the church that day—about 3,000 in all.

 

This week, try letting the Holy Spirit be your guide. Remember to look at your world, wherever God has you, through the lenses of the cross and resurrection.

 

In other words through your struggles and redemption.

 

Take what you know and ask the Spirit to help you.

You’re not responsible for the results, you are only responsible to share what you know. Share what you know about Christ, connect the things from your past with what’s happening today.

 

The Holy Spirit is responsible for the results.

 

In Romans 10:17 we are told what it takes for someone to come to faith, it reads:

 

Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ.

 

 

So often we refrain from saying anything, we squelch the Spirit, because we think it is up to us to get the words right and to ensure someone comes to a saving knowledge of Christ.

 

When actually, it’s our story, in Christ’s story, that the Holy Spirit uses to bring that person to God.

 

I’m sure if we allow the Spirit to move, like Peter, we too will be amazed.

Let’s pray.