Sunday, May 31

Acts 2:1-2, 14, 21, 37-39, 41: When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place.   Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them.   All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit… Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd: “Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say… And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved…” When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call…” Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.

Today is Pentecost Sunday, the day that God’s people received His Holy Spirit and the Church was born… Happy Birthday Church!

That would have been an amazing sight to see! There is so much more to this story than will fit here in this Daily Devotion, so I invite you to read the entire Second Chapter of Acts where Peter preaches a sermon that brings 3,000 people to faith in Jesus in one day!

It wasn’t too long ago that Peter had decided to go back to fishing. Then the resurrected Jesus came to Peter by the Sea of Galilee, restored him with His forgiveness, and the Good Shepherd commissioned Peter to feed and take care of His sheep (John 21:1-17). Jesus then ascended into heaven, and for the next couple of weeks Peter wasn’t doing much feeding or taking care of the flock. In fact, there wasn’t much of a flock to tend. Instead, Peter and the other disciples were behind closed doors in the upper room praying and waiting for God to send the Holy Spirit who Jesus promised would give them the power to be His “witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:7). But until the arrival of the Holy Spirit, Peter and the others were powerless, so they sat…and they waited…and they prayed.

But then everything changed at Pentecost! The Holy Spirit arrived and Peter finally had the power to fulfill the task of feeding and taking care of the flock that Jesus had commissioned him to do! Through the power of the Holy Spirit, Peter fed the crowd that the Holy Spirit had gathered with the Bread of Life—the Word of God—when he shared the Good News of Jesus Christ. And through the calling of the Holy Spirit and the hearing of the Word, the crowd became the flock of Jesus’ sheep who Peter was commissioned to care for when 3,000 people believed and were baptized… and the Church was born.

This first expression of the Church became the people that the Holy Spirit used to become Christ’s first witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. But there are still those around us who are disconnected from Jesus and His flock, and as the expression of the Church today, you and I have been commissioned to continue to witness for Christ. But we don’t have to do it alone! The same Holy Spirit who empowered Peter to share the Gospel and called, gathered, and sent the first witnesses is in you too!

Prayer: Holy Spirit, thank you for the Church. Thank you for calling me to saving faith in Jesus Christ. Help me to be a witness for Jesus in the relationships that you have already placed in my life. By the strength and power of the Holy Spirit I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.

Today was the first day of a three-day journey exploring what we believe about the Holy Spirit and the church. Over the next two days, we will be using the Third Article of the Apostles’ Creed and the words of Martin Luther to help us on this journey.