Monday, June 13, 2011

Sermon on Acts 2:1-21, for Pentecost, "Call on the Lord!"

1. Imagine you are a pilgrim on your way to celebrate Pentecost: OT festival of harvest. Pilgrims, farmers gather to Jerusalem, one of three times a year. Bring the “firstfruits” of harvest as a freewill offering to God—thanksgiving for the harvest, trust in His provision.
a. Expectation, crowds of people, distant lands, farmers led by a flute player, sing the Psalms of Ascent, 120-136, while moving in procession up Mount Zion to the Temple
b. Then presenting their firstfruits to the priest, they were to recite the following, from Deut. 26: ‘A wandering Aramean was my father. And he went down into Egypt and sojourned there, few in number, and there he became a nation, great, mighty, and populous. 6 And the Egyptians treated us harshly and humiliated us and laid on us hard labor. 7 Then we cried to the Lord, the God of our fathers, and the Lord heard our voice and saw our affliction, our toil, and our oppression. 8 And the Lord brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, with great deeds of terror, with signs and wonders. 9 And he brought us into this place and gave us this land, a land flowing with milk and honey. 10 And behold, now I bring the first of the fruit of the ground, which you, O Lord, have given me.’
c. Then they laid down their offering and were to worship the Lord and rejoice and celebrate with everyone, including travelers and visitors to Jerusalem.
d. By Jesus’ time, many of the Jews, esp. from foreign lands, couldn’t speak the Hebrew and participate in the recitation. So what kind of surprise and joy to hear the mighty works of God proclaimed to them in all their native languages!
e. Miraculous gift of tongues showed to all who heard, that God wanted all people to have His Word, not only the Hebrew speakers. God was “reversing the curse” of Babel, the confusion of languages that set up a barrier between the peoples. Now the Gospel message would go forward in all languages, and the church would form in Christ Jesus in as many tongues/languages as are spoken.

2. People asked “What does this mean?”
a. Peter gets up and preaches a sermon (only the first part here) and quotes Joel 2. God’s prophecy fulfilled—dramatic outpouring of the Holy Spirit
b. What are all these signs? Signs that mark the issuing in of the Messianic Age, the age of the Messiah, the Savior, the Christ.
i. These signs were seen a-plenty during Jesus’ crucifixion, resurrection, and the apostle’s age. Earthquakes and the sky darkened at Jesus’ death.
ii. Early Christian disciples throughout Acts having visions and giving prophecy. Stephen, Paul, Peter, Cornelius, the daughters of Philip the evangelist, the prophet Agabus,
iii. Sudden flurry of mission growth of the church—Spirit’s work, thousands

3. Everyone who calls on the Name of the Lord will be saved
a. Psalm 86:1-7: “Incline your ear, O Lord, and answer me, for I am poor and needy. Preserve my life, for I am godly; save your servant, who trusts in you—you are my God. Be gracious to me, O Lord, for to you do I cry all the day. Gladden the soul of your servant, for to you, O Lord, do I lift up my soul. For you, O Lord, are good and forgiving, abounding in steadfast love to all who call upon you. Give ear, O Lord, to my prayer; listen to my plea for grace. In the day of my trouble I call upon you, for you answer me.
b. Easy to take for granted. A person needs a repair done at home, they have a business card for the repairman, but never call. Does it do them any good to have the card but not use it? Don’t fail to use God’s name—don’t “hang on” to the name but never use it—call on Him daily in prayer. Call on Him in the day of trouble, and He will answer
c. Pentecost (& the rest of Peter’s sermon) shows who the Lord is, and why we can call on the name of Jesus and be saved
d. Jesus: convicted by earthly courts, whose conviction was overruled by God’s heavenly court when He raised Jesus from the dead and proved Him innocent, and the Messiah, the Son of God. Salvation is in His name—for all who call on Him.

Sermon Talking Points
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1. How powerful is the Name of God to save? Psalm 106:6-10; Matt. 10:22; Acts 4:12; When and why should we call on Him? Psalm 86:1-7; 116:1-2; 145:18; Rom. 10:12-14

2. Pentecost, the “Feast of Weeks” or “Festival of Harvest” is actually an Old Testament celebration. Ex. 34:22; Deut 16:10; Num 28:26; Ex. 23:16a. Pilgrims would gather in Jerusalem, and on Pentecost morning, a flute player would lead the farmers up Mount Zion as they sang the “Song of Ascents” (Psalm 120-36). When they reached the temple, the farmers would present a basket of grain as an offering while reciting the words from Deuteronomy 26:5-10a in Hebrew. (The Lutheran Study Bible, p. 1835).

3. By the time of this Pentecost, after Jesus’ resurrection, many Jews from foreign lands no longer spoke Hebrew and could participate in the refrains and praises at the Temple. What kind of joy did they experience when they heard the apostles “telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God” (Acts 2:11). How did Peter answer the question: “What does this mean?”

4. How was this day a fulfillment of the prophet Joel? Joel 2:28-32

5. How was the prophecy that “your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams” fulfilled already in the early years of the apostles? Acts 7:55-56; 9:1-16; 10:1-33; 16:6-10; 18:9-10; 23:11. These signs showed that the Messianic age had dawned, and that Jesus was the name on which we can call, to be saved. How had God shown Jesus to be the Messiah? Acts 2:22-24

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