By the power of the Spirit – that’s how you’re reading this message with believing hearts! The same Holy Spirit who was poured out powerfully on the Day of Pentecost so long ago is active and working in us to this day. He works through Baptism and he works through God’s Word. He strengthens us in the Sacrament of Holy Communion. Paul once said that no one can say “Jesus is Lord” except by the Holy Spirit (I Corinthians 12:3). And we do know Jesus as our Lord by the power of the Spirit!
This coming Sunday is the Festival of Pentecost. Forty days after Jesus rose from the dead, he visibly ascended into heaven. At that time he told them two important things: You will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth … and … Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised. (Acts 1) Earlier Jesus had said, the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. (John 14:26) Fifty days after Easter, ten days after the Ascension, when the disciples were together in Jerusalem and Israelites from all over the known world were in the city for an important festival, the Day of Pentecost came. We celebrate that special outpouring of the Spirit again this Sunday.
Think about the tall order Jesus gave his disciples! To remember what he said so they could teach the Gospel to others, for some of them to be the inspired authors of Scripture, and for all of them to take the message of the Savior to all nations and cultures – that was their task. And they would do it only with the Holy Spirit’s help. The Day of Pentecost visibly demonstrated that power with the sound of a rushing wind, with what appeared to be tongues of fire lighting on their heads and with the proclamation of Christ to all who would hear in languages that they could understand. A powerful miracle!
And yet, fellow believers, that miracle was not an isolated case for an isolated day in past history. Whenever cold, sinful hearts turn to the Lord and believe, it is by the power of the Spirit. It always has been and always will be. It was a special outpouring that day with some special visible miracles and results. But that same power is with us as the Spirit works through the Word and Sacraments. That same Spirit is the One who touched our cold and sinful hearts, who took us from our natural pathway to hell and brought us to saving faith in Jesus.
Be where the Word is, my friends, and you’ll be where the Spirit is. Treasure the blessing of Baptism through which God promises that you are heirs of heaven through faith in Christ . Come regularly to the Sacrament of Communion through which he personally assures you again of your Father’s love and forgiveness. Come, and hear, and believe by the power of the Spirit!