MANY WAYS TO PRAISE IN FIFTY DAYS!
Acts 2:1-4, 41 When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. 2 Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. 4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them… Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.
In the name of Jesus Christ, who promised his first disciples the gift of the Holy Spirit, a gift we have and still depend on to inspire and instruct us today, dear Christian friends,
What have you done the past fifty days? You put away your snow shovels and tuned up your lawn mower which you have used numerous times in between rain showers. You played in or watched many soccer matches or baseball/softball games or track meets in both freezing cold and blistering hot temperatures and all kinds of precipitation. You completed your fourth quarter studies and second semester exams…hopefully with a flourish. You went to work and worship, you shopped and slept, you provided for your family and paid your bills and on and on. You accomplished a lot! Fifty days is a lot of time and it should be put to good use!
Have you ever thought about what Jesus’ disciples did for the fifty days between Easter and Pentecost? Did you even realize there were originally fifty days between these two significant events that have now become huge Christian festival days? The Bible records a few accounts of this time frame for us.
Seven days after Jesus rises from the dead and makes four appearances to women and men to make sure they knew he was alive, Jesus appears again in Jerusalem, entering into a locked room and standing among Thomas and the other disciples, allowing Thomas to see and touch his resurrected body. What do you think they had been doing during these seven days? What would you have been doing?
We know they were meeting at least twice “with doors locked for fear of the Jews” (Jn 20:19). Can you blame them? They were friends of the one the Jews hated, unjustly accused and condemned to be crucified and now his body was missing from the grave. They would be prime suspects to be searched for and sequestered. The Romans with their clubs of authority and their swords of punishment would have been looking for the disciples also because their friend Jesus had somehow escaped from the grasp of the Romans after they had seen him die on a hill outside Jerusalem and after they had sealed and surrounded the grave in which his body once was. In spite of their somewhat expected fear, I like to think these disciples would still have been worshiping God and telling others about their resurrected friend Jesus over the seven days since he had been raised from the dead.
Over the next thirty-two days, we are given two accounts involving Jesus and his disciples. Along the Sea of Galilee, after a night of fishing with no catch, Jesus instructs them to throw their net on the other side of the boat and they catch an outstanding and overwhelming one hundred fifty-three fish. Jesus then has breakfast with them, after which he reinstates Peter publicly to “feed and take care of his sheep and lambs” (Jn 21:17).
Then Jesus meets with his disciples on the top of a mountain in Galilee and gives them the words of what is now called The Great Commission: “go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Mt 28:19,20).
What do you think Jesus’ disciples were doing before, in between and after these events? We know they were traveling and they were fishing. Many of you will be happy to hear that you can enjoy traveling and fishing and still be Jesus’ disciples!
Was that all they did? Maybe some arguing among themselves, some doubting of Jesus’ promises, some ignoring of Jesus’ commands, all of which they had done when Jesus was with them so maybe even more likely that Jesus was no longer with them!?! Maybe some visiting with their families and reviewing the events of the past weeks?
We know of one more event in their lives that happened forty days after Easter and ten days before Pentecost: “when Jesus had led them out to the vicinity of Bethany, he lifted up his hands and blessed them. While he was blessing them, he left them and was taken up into heaven” (Lk 24:50-51).
This blessed event of their Savior’s ascension could have been demoralizing for these men who had followed Jesus for three years— learning his ways, being inspired by his words, seeing his miracles and building a close bond of friendship. Instead, his blessing spurred them on: “they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy. And they stayed continually at the temple, praising God” (Lk 24:52-53). Ten days later in Jerusalem, in the midst of the celebratory event of Pentecost, God sent his Holy Spirit on these men, just as Jesus had promised would happen, and from there the Christian Church is born, causing yet another celebration among us today.
According to Jules Verne, it takes eighty days to go around the world. According to NASA, if you stay in bed for seventy days straight, you lose a good amount of your blood volume and increase your stress and anxiety. According to A & E TV, it took “60 Days In” for undercover inmates to learn exactly what life in jail was like.
What can you do in fifty days? Let me assure you there are MANY WAYS TO PRAISE IN FIFTY DAYS!
Are you able to put aside your fears of being ridiculed for your beliefs and still tell others about your resurrected friend Jesus? Are you willing to travel with a purpose and fish with a plan— going on missionary journeys and fishing for people with the bait of the gospel? Are you eager to continue your worship and praise of Jesus in this building, your house, your community, your workplace, your school?
Some right now are eager to raise their hands and willing to try. Others of you have done it and are not so sure you want to do so again because of the uncomfortable setting in which you found yourself. Still others are apprehensive to even try, fearful of what might happen.
On this Pentecost Sunday, we focus on the work of the Holy Spirit and the special day of blowing wind and tongues of fire on heads and speaking in different tongues, but let’s also remember the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives and how he has brought us to faith in Jesus, blowing on us with the wind of his truth, inspiring us with the fire of his love, and enabling us to use our tongues to speak his message of forgiveness for all and salvation for all who believe in Jesus. With the Holy Spirit who is always with us and who promises to teach us what to say (Lk 12:12), we are strengthened and motivated to “praise Jesus, learn his Word and share his love with all”!
People of Grace, there are many ways to praise in fifty days! Offer up your powerful prayers! Continue your faithful worship attendance and set a proper example for your family and neighbors. Speak kindly to and about one another and draw others in to see the light of Christ and his love in your life.
Remember how many came to faith in Jesus on that first Pentecost day? Three thousand! If you and I work hard over the next fifty days, how many people do you think the Holy Spirit will bring to faith in Jesus as their Savior? Should we give it a try?