Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Reflections on Planting for Pentecost

It always puzzles me why we don’t focus more on Pentecost as Jesus’ followers.  I view it as the most significant day of our faith after Easter.  It is the day that the New Testament Church was born.  And, it wasn’t a baby that came weakly struggling into the world; no, the New Testament Church came with fire, literally, and with power and multiplied over 3,000 times! 

In the Old Testament, the Jewish people celebrate the Feast of Pentecost, which was the feast of harvests.  It occurred 50 days after Passover.  Isn’t it interesting that it was a feast to celebrate the harvest and that is exactly what took place on the first Pentecost when the Holy Spirit literally entered into people.  The people were gathered to celebrate the long honored Harvest feast, but they actually became the harvest themselves as they stepped into a place of belief of Jesus as Savior and King.  Over 3,000 people were baptized that day in the Temple Square and the New Testament Church was born.
Why was the event of Pentecost necessary and important?  Up until that moment, people were given the Holy Spirit for specific assignments, but no one had the privilege of living with Holy Spirit permanently sealed within them.  King David even prayed to the Lord, “Don’t take your Holy Spirit from me” (Ps 51:11).  Jesus didn’t even receive the Holy Spirit until his baptism at age 30.  Can you imagine living our life of faith without the power to do it?

Have you ever thought about the fact that most of the four Gospels were written in the Old Testament ways?  It wasn’t until Jesus died and was resurrected and Pentecost happened that the crossover took place from the Old Testament law to the New Testament covenant.

When Jesus told his disciples in Luke 9 that he was sending them out with his power and authority to cast out demons, cure diseases, proclaim the Kingdom of God and heal the sick, they received temporary empowerment. They did see huge results in their “missions trip,” as they came back saying, “Lord, even the demons submit to your name” (Luke 10:17).  The reality, however, was that if they didn’t continue to walk with Jesus and receive his empowerment, they would quickly go back into the place of being very ordinary men doing very ordinary things.

Everything changed when Jesus breathed his last breath on the cross and said it was finished.  Everything to that second in history was preparation for that moment!  When Jesus didn’t stay in the grave but came back to life, all the rules for how to walk out the Jewish faith fell to the ground to make room for a new way of life:  the way of relationship, grace and forgiveness!
Jesus spent 40 days after he was resurrected hanging out with his disciples, and even a few hundred other people, as he prepared them for their new way of life.  He could have released Holy Spirit to his disciples before he ascended into heaven, but instead he told them to “Go and wait and pray for the gift my Father has promised.”
Why was this important?  Here’s the way that I understand it.  Jesus was a living, breathing reality of how you can live a supernatural life in a human body.  He went to the cross as a human; not as God.  He lived out perfect obedience through learning to partner with Holy Spirit as a human being. 
Listen to how Paul describes it in Philppians 2:6-8:Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. 7 Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being.  When he appeared in human form,8 he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross.”
Jesus modeled for us how we are to live.  We can’t dismiss his call to do the things that he has done, and even greater things that those (John 14), because Jesus had something separate from what we carry. No, he had the same Holy Spirit that we have; there is no difference.  Jesus taught us that when we partner with Holy Spirit, despite our human body, magnificent things happen to point to the Kingdom of God present amongst us.

However, just like the disciples, we need to be prepared to carry such a significant call.  It takes being willing to be “set apart” for times when we are able to let the demands of life become less noisy and the invitation of Jesus and his kingdom ways to become more enticing.
If Jesus had released Holy Spirit that day on the Mt of Olives before he ascended to heaven, the disciples would have missed the impact of the preparation that came with the 10 days of being gathered and waiting for the Father’s promise.

What do you think that they did during those 10 days? 

I imagine that they spent time worshipping as they had just seen the supernatural miracle of Jesus ascending  into heaven.  I think that they spent time imagining what the Father’s Promise would be like, and how it would happen.  I think that they told stories of their life with Jesus as they began to get clear about all the things he taught them that they didn’t understand even a little bit while he was on earth.  I wonder if they started sharing communion together as it was Jesus command to them to celebrate it often.  I think that many of the dots that before seemed like a random pattern began to become a clear and compelling picture of why following Jesus was the most exciting adventure on earth.

I wonder if any of them got tired of waiting and left.  I wonder if they were fearful of the unknown.  I wonder if they figured out that the promise would happen on Pentecost as faithful Jewish people literally came from all over the world to worship and sacrifice at the Temple.  Do you realize that 16 languages and locations are listed in Acts 2? In one day, the New Testament Church of Jesus became a movement that dramatically impacted the earth and continues to do the same today.

This is why Missio Lux has a call to follow the way of Jesus and the disciples like that first Pentecost.  We have the opportunity to prepare ourselves for the gift that the Father has for us this year; as we realize the tremendous way that he is moving amongst us and calling us to move.
We have developed several ways for you to wait, pray and prepare for Pentecost starting Friday, June 3.  www.missiolux.org

Even if you live out of town, come along for as much as you can do from afar.  Go to the top of a mountain or hill where you live and proclaim that your area is set apart for God’s harvest to come forth!  When you do that, you will be joining God’s kingdom people in other places who desire to see a present day Pentecost Harvest that resembles that first one over 2,000 years ago!

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