By Dennis Fangmeyer St. John and Trinity Lutheran Churches
Pentecost has always been a joyous feast for Christians. After his ascension, Jesus’ disciples obeyed his command to wait in Jerusalem. Suddenly the Holy Spirit came upon them and they found the strength and inspiration to tell the world the truth about their risen Lord. They had been chosen to be his witnesses, to safeguard and transmit the teachings of Christ and to witness to his resurrection and its significance.
When the Holy Spirit descended upon them, God miraculously prompted them to speak in other languages, specifically in other dialects that only native speakers in remote parts of the world could recognize. What was happening? The Epistle to the Hebrews tells us: “We must pay closer attention… to what we have heard, so as not to stray…. This salvation, which was first announced by the Lord, was confirmed to us by those who heard it. God also testified to it by signs and wonders and various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will” (2:1, 3b-4). God testified to the disciples so that they would be recognized as His witnesses.
So how does Pentecost affect us personally? Hebrews says: “We must pay particular attention” to the Apostles, to their words and to their teachings inspired by the Holy Spirit and recorded for us in the Holy Scriptures.
This is why Pentecost is God telling us to pay attention to the teachings of the Apostles, to the words of Holy Scripture, to the means of His grace as a remedy for condemned sinners, to Baptism and to the Lord’s Supper . Pentecost was a testimony of the Holy Spirit bringing us the Good News of Christ in our own native languages (we don’t need to know Hebrew, Latin or Greek before we can hear God speak to us! ). What happy news. Since the day of Pentecost, everyone has been permitted to know the mind and heart of God, even little children (Acts 1:17, 39).
If God the Holy Spirit speaks clearly to us in our own language through the scriptures and in preaching, if God speaks to us through the apostolic scriptures to make himself known, it only follows that we must “pay special attention” .
As Peter advises us in Acts 2, we are to: “Repent and be baptized…for the forgiveness of your sins…he warned them; and he pleaded with them: ‘Flee from this corrupt generation.’ ” Their response ? “Those who accepted his message were baptized…. They devoted themselves to the teaching of the apostles and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. They paid close attention through repentance and faith in the Word of God.
The Christian life never lacks energy and joy when you know what it means to be a Christian. A Christian cares about the danger of personal sins, calls them what they are, and washes them away in the baptismal grace of God. A Christian humbly comes to church to be with other Christians and hear the Word of God. A Christian celebrates the wonderful mystery of a risen Christ coming to his people at the Lord’s Supper. A Christian prays to the Lord on behalf of the world around him.
So let’s be honest, Christians are nothing but a group of people who pay close attention to the Word of God, live in repentance and trust in Christ’s forgiveness! May the risen Lord, by his Holy Spirit, cause the Word of God to rest on your heart and your soul.