A Cycle – Feast of Pentecost 23
Just before Jesus ascended to the Father, He told the disciples He was sending them the promise of the Father. He also told them to wait in the city until they were clothed with power from on high. What is important about both of those pronouncements was the disciples knew what was coming and what they had to do to prepare for it. When this promise would come was not known but they expected it to happen and were anxiously waiting for it to come.
This promise of the Father was given to us by the prophets and that promise was that the Spirit would change them. Even Jesus refers to this ancient promise when He said, “living water would flow from within those who believe in him.” It is that same living water Ezekiel witnesses flowing from the temple (Ez.47). Ezekiel witnessed that water as a never ending but growing force changing everything it touched. That living water changed a waste land into a fruitful land. Ezekiel witnessed this flowing water bringing life, abundance and never ending growth.
This vision of Ezekiel would have been known by the disciples as a story from the past which the Israelites believed would flow from the temple in Jerusalem. But now Jesus is telling them that the temple from which all these blessings would come is not the building, but it will flow from Him.
The disciples would have realized by now this promise of the Father was the promise of the Holy Spirit whom the Father would send to equip us for holiness. That Spirt was to come as part of God’s plan to redeem us. That Spirit would reveal all to them and to us. All the teachings the disciples had heard about the law and the prophets would become clear to the disciples and to us.
God removed the barrier of sin created between us and Him by placing the penalty of our sin upon Jesus on the cross. Then fifty days after the sacrifice of the Lamb of God on the cross we would receive the promise of the Father. Why is the time of the Spirits coming important to us? Because God is consistent in what He intended to do for us, but we fail to grasp this because we are too focused on the law for our salvation. Our lack of understanding holds us back, so we like the disciples believe but we also doubt.
Amazing isn’t it? After the enslaved Israelites sacrificed a lamb and placed its blood on the lintels of their homes Pharaoh frees them from the bondage of slavery. Fifty days later, Moses is on Mt. Saini receiving the covenant and the law written on tablets of stone with the promise God would be with them. Fifty days after the sacrifice of the Lamb of God on the Cross, the disciples are in the upper room receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit who would write the law on the heart of every believer and change us (Jer. 31:33). Paul tells us how important that is to us when he tells us, “…the law of Spirit and life has freed us from the law of sin and death” (Rom. 8:2). We will be given a new vision of what pleases God by this change in our hearts. We overcome the sins of the flesh and grasp the changes we need reside deeper in us and can only the action of the Holy Spirit can heal and change those interior desires which drive us to sin.
What happened on Pentecost is more than a moment in the history of salvation. It is a perpetual promise made by God to us. It is our rebirth moment; it is life changing because those kinds of change can only be from the Holy Spirit coming upon us. The Spirit action within us is the only way to repair the damage done by the lies of Satan. The lies which Satan over the years has imprinted on our minds as he tells us we are unable to change.
Pentecost is more than a story in the bible for us to marvel at and wish for. No, it is ours for the asking and it is a lingering desire in our hearts. We want it but no one has ever told us how to receive it. Or we have been unable to hear what we must do because sin distorts our hearing. We need to do exactly what Jesus told the disciples to do before he ascended.
At that moment the disciples did not understand fully but they believed in the promise, so they waited. Everything that follows from the Ascension to now began with a belief in the promise of God. God promise is for all time, every man, woman, and child (Joel 2:28). The first covenant made with Moses was so they could have life and live in the presence of God. Do you believe at that moment God did not know our human nature would not allow us to follow the simplest of God’s desires for our holiness. Adam and Eve’s sin proved how we cannot resist temptation and how we take control because we do not trust God’s goodness.
God knew we would continue to sin. The sad truth was they sinned while Moses was on the mountain. God knew there would be a new covenant made between Himself and us. The new covenant was given to us by the Prophet Jeremiah when God tells us He will write His law on our hearts and change us. What we do not realize is how to receive that promise and that is must desire it and ask for it, pray for it and expect it. Knowing what we are praying for is already God’s desire to give us.
What we do not know is how this change will impact our lives. That my brothers and is unknowable until it happens. Because we are unique and gifted from our conception for a purpose according to God’s plan and purpose. What is common for all of us is once the Spirit changes us, we are no longer doubters. No longer do we wonder if God hears us or cares about us. We know and feel the love of God and we know how God delights in us discovering who we were created to become. We feel His presence, feel His pleasure in our exercising our newfound giftedness. We become bolder because we know we are called by name, and we know God will be with us.
We feel forgiveness flowing over us not unlike standing under a waterfall of grace flowing from the font of heaven. We will be joyful, confident, and yes even knowledgeable in scripture and insightful as we proclaim the wonder of God to those who have not yet had their moment of Pentecost.
We will desire to be in the presence of God as we worship with other believers during the mass. The songs will well up in us as we join the saints in heaven worshipping our God. We will grow in holiness not because we are seeking holiness but because the Spirit is transforming us. The Spirit will change us from glory to glory into the very image of Jesus Christ (2 Cor.3:15).