C Cycle – Feast of Pentecost 22
If you read the scriptures which describe the events involving the appearance of Jesus after his resurrection it is clear the disciples had difficulty understanding what it all meant. The ascension may have clarified one aspect of his resurrection; He was taken into heaven which affirmed the belief in the resurrection of the body, but since he was no longer with them, what did that mean for them. What about his promise to be with them always? What did he mean when he said, “wait in the city until you are clothed with power from on high?”
What would happen in that upper room? What do they do while they were waiting? Would the Jews arrest them if they remained in Jerusalem? How would God’s promise, this power from on high, be fulfilled? They relied on him and now he was gone. But they had hope and faith, so they waited, they prayed, pleaded, and trusted. While they waited, they would have discussed all that happened during the last three years, and they would have tried to recall what Jesus said.
They would have discussed the “promise of the Father” which the Jews had been talking about since the time of Jeremiah and Ezekiel half a century before the birth of Christ. God promised redemption, a messiah and he also promised he would write his law on our hearts (Jer. 31:33). No longer would the law written on tablets of stone be our disciplinarian reminding us of our shortcomings and need for a savior. Instead, we would have the law written on our hearts by the transforming power of the Holy Spirit (Ez.36:26-27) and we would follow God’s will and decrees. They would remember the promise made through the prophet that his Spirit would be poured out on all mankind (Joel 2:28).
They knew those prophesies and yet there was uncertainty about what would happen and how it would happen. The believed his promise so they prayed and trusted in God’s promise. They knew the stories of how the Spirit came upon the elders in the camp with Moses. They knew how the Spirit enveloped Gideon and others. They knew the anointing of the Spirit upon David and all the prophets. But they were nothing compared to those giants in the history of God and his people. Yet Jesus told them this promise of the Father was going to be given to them and to each of us.
Today we celebrate the fulfillment of that promise made by God to every one of us who believes and desires to be faithful Christians. But like the disciples we remain clueless as to how it is to be fulfilled in our lives and what happens to us when it does happen. Today we have two events describing the Spirit’s coming on the disciples. The gospel of John (Jn.20:22) describes his first appearance to them after his resurrection. At that time, he breathes on them saying “receive the Holy Spirit.” This event is the beginning of the fulfillment of the promise to write his law on our hearts. This giving of the Spirit begins an internal conversion in each of us changing our hearts desires from self to God. This beginning work of the Sprit in us moves us to seek understanding and to realize we need to allow ourselves to be forgiven and embraced by God.
This internal conversion is the beginning of a series of encounters with Christ. It moves us to realize we cannot overcome but we are still loved and embraced by Christ. We learn how to respond to those encounters.
If you read the scriptures, you will discover this internal conversion by the Holy Spirit does not create an instantaneous change within them or us. They remain confused and still lack understanding about his resurrection and they lack direction. But the Spirit which was breathed upon them is speaking to them as it does with us. It is creating a desire to feel the presence of God. A desire to feel God’s love and his forgiveness. This work of the Spirit is changing hearts and desires to seek more revelation and a certainty that will lead us to discover the meaning and purpose of our lives. Just as it did the disciples after that day.
Pentecost is not just a story about the disciples it is an event promised to each of us by God. We are more than flesh; we are of the Spirit because the Spirit dwells in each of us (Rom.8:9). In fact, we can look at Paul’s conversion for an understanding of what God wants to do within us. Paul tells us the Spirit will give life to our mortal bodies (Rom.8:11) because of the Spirit dwelling within each of us. How long will the Spirit given to us at baptism remain buried within us? How long will it take for us to allow it to move us to our upper room experience? We all have this desire to be holy men and holly women because the Holy Spirit that dwells within each of us. How do we allow this breath of God to begin its work within us? We must allow it to motivate us to seek the final work of the Spirit to transform us. We seek our upper room experience.
We go to our upper room and pray, reflect on the promises of God, and invite the Spirit to fil our heats. We desire this conversion of heart promised to us by God. Therefore, we acknowledge it is a work of God not of our own doing. Once we acknowledge we cannot do it, but God can we are ready for the next outpouring of the Spirit. It is then we have our upper room experience, the experience of wonder and awe. The same manifestation we see in Acts where the disciples are filled with the Spirit. They play in tongues and have a boldness they lacked until then. We can experience that same might wind rushing upon us as the Spirit rushes upon us as we pray for it coming. This second outpouring of the Spirit is God doing for us what he did for the disciples. Equipping each of us for the external conversion making us bold witnesses of his love, The Spirit brings to each of us gifts to build the body of Christ, making it vibrant and alive. It is this witnessing and use of our gifts that draws others to desire the freedom and joy of knowing who we are and how deeply God loves and delights