Day of Pentecost

 Sermon Text: Acts 2:1-21

 Other Readings: Ezekiel 37:1-14 and John 15:26-27; 16:4b-11

 

This is a map of the nations mentioned in the text. (Used with permission. By Gordon Smith, ccel.org)


 

  1. Pentecost had long been an annual Jewish religious festival. Read Leviticus 23:15-22. What was the basic point of that Old Testament festival? What symbolic meaning does that help give this particular Day of Pentecost recorded in Acts 2?
  2. What do you think the painting captures well about Pentecost? What do you think could be better? (By Gustav Dore, via Wikimedia)
     
  3. Pentecost was accompanied by miraculous signs—a sound “like the blowing of a violent wind” and the sight of what “seemed to be tongues of fire.” Those aren’t just random signs. Give reasons why that sound was so appropriate, especially when you read Ezekiel 37:1-14. Give reasons why that sight was so appropriate, especially when you read Luke 3:15-18.
     
  4. In our Gospel Reading, Jesus names the Holy Spirit “the Paraclete” (John 15:26)—at least in the Greek. Some translations translate paraclete as “the Counselor.” Our translation uses “the Advocate.” But what does that even mean? Use Peter’s preaching in Acts 2 to explain what it means that the Holy Spirit is the Advocate.
     
  5. Peter declares that we are “in the last days.” How does that encourage you? How should that shape the way we go about gospel ministry as a congregation?
     


 

  1. The Day of Pentecost was scheduled for fifty days after the Passover sacrifice. So, the timeline fits up well with Jesus’ death at Calvary. The Day of Pentecost emphasized the harvest that was beginning in the Holy Land. So, commentators have long pointed out that the Day of Pentecost also shows us a harvest that is beginning--a harvest of souls. God sent the Holy Spirit to enable the workers to go out into the plentiful harvest (Matthew 9:37) with the good news of Jesus.
     
  2. Answers will vary based on personal opinion.
     
  3. The sound matches very well with the sounds of Ezekiel’s vision, which depicts the work of the Spirit. When we also consider that the Hebrew word for spirit (roo-ach) can mean “wind,” there is another strong connection to the person of the Holy Spirit. As for the sight of fire, we are reminded that John the Baptist promised that Jesus would baptize his believers with fire. We also recall that in the Bible fire is used in the sense of purifying, and the Spirit’s job is to refine, purify, and sanctify us spiritually.
     
  4. Both Advocate and Counselor have the idea of a lawyer who helps prepare a client for a case and then walks that client through the case, which often involves testimony. In the same way, the Holy Spirit helped Peter testify to the crowd, the way anyone would on the witness stand–just by telling the truth.
     
  5. We can be encouraged that these are the last days because 1) it means that Jesus will return soon and 2) it means that God is still pouring out his Spirit on us! But since these are the last days, we should have a sort of confident urgency to do as much gospel ministry as we can so that more souls may be harvested for the Lord (see #1).