A Sermon for Zion: "The Spirit of Truth"

Acts 2:1-4, 14, 16-21 and John 15:26-27 & John 16:4b-15

Pentecost, 20 May 2018

The Rev. Todd R. Goddard, Pastor

West Walworth: Zion and East Rochester United Methodist Churches

 

Acts 2:1-4, 14, 16-21 (http://bible.oremus.org/?ql=393565860)

John 15:26-27, 16:4b-15 (http://bible.oremus.org/?ql=393562159)

 

Prayer.

 

Exactly as Jesus taught

The Messianic Age ended!

He flew up into the air, hallelujah!

Jesus was the last, final messiah.

No need to wait for another.

 

Turn the page.

 

Exactly as Jesus promised

A new chapter in God’s unfolding salvation history began.

With Pentecostal fire

The Holy Spirit came upon and overwhelmed the obedient disciples,

Waiting in the Upper Room.

 

Thus began the age in which we continue to live to this day:

Welcome to the Holy Spirit Age.

 

The author of Acts reported what happened:

The Holy Spirit came with sound and heat,

Filling the entire house.

 

Sound filled the house:

“like the rush of a violent wind.” (Acts 2:2)

People who live in tornado alley would describe this

“like the sound of a freight train bearing down on them.”

Shelter in place, auntie Em! 

 

Heat filled the house:

“Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them.” (Acts 2:3)

Talk about running around with your hair on fire!

It’s like the house got blown down and set on fire.

 

As a result,

All “were filled with the Holy Spirit

And began to speak in other languages,

As the Spirit gave them ability.” (Acts 2:4)

 

No, they had not been drinking, as some speculated.

Peter set the record straight.

They were witnessing,

Just as Joel prophesized hundreds of years earlier.

Their multi-lingual witness

Revealed the coming of the Lord,

The presence of the Holy Spirit.

 

It was the dawn of a brand new age.

 

As God came to earth as Son of God and Son of Man,

In the form of Jesus Christ,

God returned to the world as the Spirit,

The Advocate, the Paraclete, the Spirit of Truth.

The world had to know that God had returned to live among us;

Therefore, the message needed delivered in the languages of the world.

 

This explained what happened, on the day of Pentecost.

The question that begs to be asked is “why?”

Why did Jesus leave his disciples and humanity behind?

Why did God return to humanity on Pentecost in the form of a Spirit?

 

Answering the “why?” question gives us insight

Into God’s motives;

God’s deep, longing desire

To love and save the world.

 

Scripture reveals three items that are essential for our understanding.

(It makes for a good three-point sermon, too!)

 

1. First, the Holy Spirit replaced Jesus

To transfer his power and authority to his Church.

“The Advocate will take what is mine and declare it to you,”

Jesus promises. (John 16:14)

 

The problem facing Jesus was

He was one man

Who could only be in one place

At one time.

His singularity

Limited his reach

And restricted his ability

To teach, heal, forgive and save

To only the individual directly before him.

 

God’s unfolding plan

Reveals the need for

The power and authority of Jesus Christ to scale

From the individual

To the global needs of humanity.

 

The transition from the Messianic Age to the Holy Spirit Age reveals

God’s deepest desire to spread his kingdom worldwide.

The power and authority of Jesus is available to all Spirit filled disciples.

When the Spirit fills us,

Starting with our baptism by water and Spirit,

We become the Body of Christ.

We assume the authority of Jesus.

And we are given the power of Jesus by the Holy Spirit,

With the responsibility to use it

According to God’s will.

 

2. Secondly, God’s work wasn’t completed in Jesus.

More needed done.

More needed taught.

Disciples need direction, guidance towards truth.

 

To this day

God’s will continues to be revealed,

Continues to adapt to the ground game,

Continues to adjust to the evolving needs of humanity.

 

As the world evolved, so too would God.

 

For scripture to be understood,

The Holy Spirit needs to flood the thoughts of the reader.

For the Gospel to be proclaimed,

The Holy Spirit needs to reveal it’s will to the preacher.

For the kingdom of God to be spread,

The Holy Spirit needs to empower advocates for

Justice,

Peacemaking,

And Social Holiness.

 

Jesus recognized the fact

That post-ascension apostles could not manage alone.

 

3. Lastly, in the final moments of Jesus’ instructions to his disciples,

He tells them that the Spirit must replace him,

To “prove the world wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment.” (John 16:8)

It would take the Spirit to do

That which Jesus was unable to do

In three key areas:

sin and belief,

righteousness in physical absence,

and judgment and condemnation.

 

For those who would be unmoved in believing or following Jesus,

Only the Holy Spirit would be able to bridge the gap,

And bring the unbeliever from the land of the lost

Into the kingdom of God.

 

For those who needed Christ’s physical presence

To prod their righteous behavior,

Only the Holy Spirit would be able to wheel them back into community.

Somehow, God still had to go after lost sheep.

 

For those whose self-judgment has opened the flood gates of self-condemnation,

Only the power of the Holy Spirit can save the condemned from drowning,

By extending forgiveness and the redemption of sins to the world.

 

Our Holy Spirit Age was a necessary transition

In our relationship with God,

And no one knew it,

Or could articulate it more accurately,

Than Jesus, himself.

The power and authority of Jesus

Had to be transferred to the Church

If Christianity was going to propagate the world.  

Disciples then, and every generation moving forward,

Depend upon the guidance and support of the Holy Spirit.

You and I; we couldn’t survive, let alone thrive, without the presence of the Spirit.

And the gift of the Holy Spirit of Truth,

Enlightens and brings to life the gifts of Jesus:

Forgiveness of sins,

Repentance,

And salvation.

 

Today we celebrate God’s gift of the Spirit,

A sign of his grace and overwhelming love

For you and me.

Thanks be to God!

Amen.