First Presbyterian Church of Blackwood
21 E. Church Street
Blackwood, NJ 08012
Sermon Notes (Pentecost Sunday, June 05, 2022)
Rev. Dr. Mouris A. Yousef, Pastor
“When the Day of Pentecost Came!”
Joel 2:28-29; Acts 2:1-13
It was a warm spring day in Jerusalem. It’s about 9:00 am Jerusalem time. Everyone was excited about Shavuot – the Feast of Weeks (Deuteronomy 16:10; also known as the Feast of Harvest (Exodus 23:16). Later on, among the Jews that spoke Greek, the feast became known as penetkoste, which in Greek means “fiftieth.” The Feast commemorates the giving of the Ten Commandments on Mount Sinai. From Passover to the giving of the Ten Commandments — exactly 7 weeks, 50 days. Many Jews from all over the Mediterranean and beyond, would make the trip to Jerusalem to celebrate the Feast of Harvest or penetkoste.
Though it seemed a very normal and typical celebration day in Jerusalem, it turned out to be an awesome one. The world didn’t know what the Lord had in store for His people. On Pentecost, God did something surprising, something these Jewish pilgrims could not have expected. On the day of Pentecost, the Lord fulfilled His promise by giving the Holy Spirit to the Church. So when the wind blew, when the Holy Spirit descended, when the fire lit over the heads of the 120, when those gathered in Jerusalem heard the disciples speaking their languages, miraculously empowered by God, the crowds were amazed.
Today is Pentecost Sunday; a day that the church around the world sets aside to remember the giving of the gift of the Holy Spirit and the birth of the Church. Pentecost was a turning point to the early Church and it’s foundational for our faith today. As we think about the day of Pentecost, please allow me to underscore two lessons:
First: We Do Need the Holy Spirit
It’s been 10 days since Christ was taken up to heaven. It must’ve felt awful without having Jesus around. The disciples’ only comfort during this time of waiting was a promise that Jesus gave them. “If I go, I will send the Advocate to you”, says Jesus in John 16:7. This is not going to be a visit of God’s Spirit, it’s a dwelling. The Old Testament saints longed for this day.
On Pentecost, God poured out His Spirit upon His people. His generosity in Christ was shown to everyone. That what the Prophet Joel foretold a few hundred years before Christ. Joel 2:28-29, states, “After that, I will pour out my spirit upon everyone; your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, and your young men will see visions. Even on the male and female slaves, in those days I will pour out my spirit.” In Acts 2:17, Peter quoted these words saying that they had been fulfilled today.
The first lesson we need to remember on this Pentecost Sunday is that we really do need the Holy Spirit. We need the companionship of God in this journey we call life. Jesus knew that following Him in the world is not easy. There is no way we can manage life on our own. One of my favorite African American Spirituals is “Give Me Jesus!” The earliest known version of “Give Me Jesus” was published in 1845 by the Rev. Jacob Knapp, a Baptist minister from New York. It goes like this: (1) “In the morning, when I rise … Give me Jesus. Give me Jesus … You can have all this world … But give me Jesus. (2) And when I am alone … Oh, and when I am alone … Give me Jesus … You can have all this world … But give me Jesus. (3) And when I come to die … Oh, and when I come to die. Give me Jesus … You can have all this world … But give me Jesus.” God’s presence is what we need the most.
Second: We Do Need Each Other
But there is a second lesson we are reminded of on this Pentecost Sunday. Not only do we really need the Holy Spirit, but we also need each other; we need this community of believers. It should strike us that Jesus could have sent the Holy Spirit on each of the 120 followers individually when they were praying at their own homes. Instead, the Holy Spirit fell when the disciples were in the Upper Room praying together. There is something indescribable about being together.
What is striking about Acts chapter 2 is that it begins with togetherness, and it ends with togetherness. Acts 2:42 speaks of shared teaching, shared meals, shared prayers, even shared possessions. The Holy Spirit united their hearts in singleness of purpose and mission. Simply put, we cannot accomplish individually the mission God that God has given us.
A few weeks ago, I pointed out that community is at the heart of Jesus movement and we should make it our priority to unite ourselves with the Body of Christ. I have always said that faith is a journey and it’s not meant to be traveled alone. Community is extremely important. We get fed in this community. We are protected in this community. We are safer in this community. We reach our potential in the church community. We love and we are loved in this community. We exercise our spiritual gifts in this community. We get blessed and we become a blessing to others in this community.
Friends, we are reminded on this Pentecost Sunday of two amazing, uplifting, and transformative truth. First, we need the dwelling and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit. Don’t face your Goliath alone. You will not stand the battle. Let God be your refuge and strength. Second, we need each other. We need this body of believers. We journey together. We follow together. We rejoice together and we cry together. On these two important foundations, rise or fall our witness in the world. In the Name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen!
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