Devotional Reading: John 15:1-7
Lesson Scripture: Acts 2:1-13
Lesson Aims: To appreciate the various ways Jesus shows up in our lives; recognize that living for Jesus requires radical power; and pray that the Spirit fills us daily to do His will.
Background: According to the Gospels, Christ made 10 appearances during the 40 days prior to His ascension. The disciples were confused, scared, doubtful and probably angry. They also had to face their disloyalty to Jesus. Jesus came to them in a forgiving manner to calm, reassure and to restore their confidence in Him. For three years, they listened, believed and followed Him; yet they lacked understanding. The message Jesus taught was simple and based on love, not the Law or tradition! Notice how He stayed in trouble with the powers in society. The Law was given as a guide for living in community; it wasn’t designed to save.
To accomplish the things that Jesus talked about, the disciples couldn’t rely on their physical power. Instead, He promised power from on high in Luke 24:49; John 14:16-17, 15:26 and 16: 7-15 that would sustain their work. Physical strength simply wasn’t enough! Examine their behavior from the Garden of Gethsemane (lower slopes of Mt. Olive) to His appearances to them. On sheer physical strength and knowledge alone, they failed. Even though the women didn’t abandon Jesus, they failed, relying on their knowledge too. The disciples were trained to practice justice, love mercy and walk humbly with God (Micah 6:8). This lifestyle is radical in any society! With ascension nearing, Jesus told them to return to Jerusalem and wait for the gift promised by the Father.
Lesson: Pentecost (50) is one of three major Jewish feast days. It comes 50 days after the Sabbath of Passover week. Also known as the Feast of Weeks and Feast of Harvest, its purpose was to celebrate the first fruits of the harvest. Over time, giving of the Law to Moses was added, thus “making the celebration an agricultural and religious observance” (Bible Expositor and Illuminator). We’ve been taught that on the day of Pentecost, the disciples were in the upper room. Careful examination of the Scriptures doesn’t say that. By this time, the disciples know that Jesus has forgiven their abandonment; restored their confidence; given them a peace that passeth understanding; and strengthened their faith.
Most scholars agree that they are probably in the Temple (go to Luke 24:53). They hear the winds (symbolizing the Spirit) blowing and they see the tongues of fire (Divine presence) that rests on each of them; the Jews from every corner of the then-known world are in the city and in the Temple. The disciples begin to speak so that all can understand their words. The crowd draws near to investigate this phenomenon because Galileans don’t speak their languages. Verses 9-11 list the places they are from. What could this mean? Some in the crowd make fun of the disciple, stating that they are simply drunk! Then Peter (you know the one, who denied Him and struck the high priest’s servant), arises to preach Salvation to all people. Three thousand are saved that day and carry the Word back home.
Application: Jesus upset the status quo. That’s what radicals do! He preached love, mercy and forgiveness without regards to profit, a portfolio or a bank account. You see, to be like Jesus you cannot be spineless, or a go along to get along person. To be like Him, hypocrisy, greed, corruption and all of the “isms” in society cannot be tolerated. Evil lurks everywhere and impacts each of us. To do the Lord’s work requires a force that is not of this world.
He knew that all along! The Holy Spirit promised by Jesus through God is the power needed to live a radical life. It directs and empowers us to get the task done. Most of us mean well but we don’t follow through on our own. Jesus commissioned us, and God sends the Holy Spirit to help us get it done. Being morally good will not suffice! Only by the power of the Holy Spirit can we live the radical life that God wants.