Grace, mercy and peace be unto you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ! AMEN! Our text for this morning’s sermon is taken from St. Luke’s account of the Acts of the Apostles the second chapter (Acts 2:1-21).
Beloved in the Lord,
Fifty days after wiping Egyptian door posts with the blood of the Lamb, the God of Israel’s deliverance filled Sinai with thunder and lighting. His voice howled through the air as He gathered His people under the promises of His covenant, as He spoke His torah into their ears. For fifty days after the Passover God gave His Holy Law to the Israelites from a Mountain that could not be touched, with a voice that brought terror among the peoples. Such was the very first Pentecost.
Now, in our text, Peter, James, John, and rest of the twelve are gathered with one accord in one place. It has been fifty days! Fifty days since the Passover, the day of the Lamb’s sacrifice. Fifty days since the Lord’s first born surrendered to the Angel of death and was crucified, dead and buried. Fifty days since the first fruits of the resurrection stepped forth from the grave having conquered the underworld’s Pharaoh and his legion of soldiers. It has been fifty days since Israel’s God mightily worked deliverance not only for Israel but for all the peoples of the world. It has been fifty days and God once again howls throughout creation. A mighty wind blows through the room and tongues of fire rest upon His sent ones. The apostolic band, once cowering in an upper room behind locked doors, now is filled with God’s Holy Spirit, filled with boldness, filled with courage, filled with the fire of God’s Word. Where Sinai brought terror to the Israelites, Zion brings comfort and joy. Where Sinai could not be touched, Zion may be embraced with the heart. Where Sinai led to fear and great trembling, Zion brings forgiveness and the peace which passes all human understanding.
Today, the day of Pentecost fully come! The God of our deliverance trumpets His Word in our midst that we may be saved from this wicked and perverse generation! Today His voice cries through these hallowed halls, calling the nations to His Son! Today, fifty days after the Resurrection, after the first born became the first fruit from the dead, God pours His Spirit upon the nations, upon You and Me as His Word bathes us in the cross of His dear Son. Today is the day of salvation for you, no matter where you are from. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is for all peoples, for Parthians and Medes and Elamites, those dwelling in Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, “Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya adjoining Cyrene, visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, “Cretans and Arabs” women and children, Africans and anglos, rich and poor, young and elderly. If you are a child of Adam, the Spirit of God is calling you to Jesus through the preaching of the Word.
But what does all of this mean? Are these men filled with the spirits of this world? Are they filled with wine as some have claimed? No, beloved. It is not the wine of this world which fills their stomachs, but rather the new wine of the gospel fills their hearts. And new wine cannot be placed into old wineskins. This is why so many reject the apostolic word. For the apostolic Word is a New Word, a living Word, a holy, Divine, and inspired Word. The Old Adam cannot receive such a word for he will burst. The old Adam will drown under the graces of the gospel. He cannot survive. He’s not meant to survive. He must die this way, or he will die eternally in hell.
Such is the curse for sin. The wages of sin is death. The penalty for breaking the covenant of God is to be cast out of the camp, into utter darkness where the fire is not quenched, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Such is the destiny of the Old Adam, so long as he or she lives in unrepentance, so long as the heart refuses to be cleansed by the blood of the Lamb.
In the depths of the heart the Old Adam knows this. The World knows this. You know this. That’s why so many call on the name of others to be saved. That’s why humanity from every culture, from every region of the planet, from every time since the garden of Eden has a religion. That’s why they have devised a way back to God, a way which avoids the death of the sinner. Muslims have good works or Jihad. Jews have the 400 laws and traditions of the elders. Buddhists avoid suffering. Hindus have reincarnation. New Agers have karma. Mormons have genealogies. Masons and lodges have their secret handshakes. Jehovah witnesses have their door to door ministries. Pietists have their devotions. Papists have their candles, their saints, their indulgences. Evangelicals have their emotions, their purposes and their promises. All these and many others have something to do to get to God. For that is the way which seems right to the Old Adam. Do good – get to heaven.
What are some of the ways you avoid the new wine of the gospel? Where does your heart look instead of the cross? How does your Old Adam attempt to survive? Do you avoid or ignore God’s Word? Do you, like the men in our text think the preaching of the Apostolic Word is nonsense? Do you think you don’t need God’s Word? Do you think you don’t need God’s supper? Do you think you’re not that bad, that your sins really aren’t that serious, that there aren’t eternal consequences to the way you live your life? If this is the case with you, with your heart, then the old wineskin is allowed to remain just that . . . old, and dead. If you are to live and enjoy the blessedness of heaven, your Old Adam must die. Your wineskin must burst. You must be born anew, born from above, born of Water and the Spirit. You must repent. You must call on the name of another to be saved.
And so Peter’s sermon is for you and your children and for all who are afar off. For this is the fulfillment of the Prophet Joel. The Lord is pouring out His Spirit, the old world, and the old you, is coming to an end. A new day is dawning. A new you is given birth, if you beleive. The Name of the Lord is held high, for it is the Name that is above every name, the Name before which Satan and His legions must bow, the Name before which those in heaven and on earth will bend the knee. It is the Name that has ascended to the highest heavens, far above all dominions, and powers, above the reign of sin and death. This Name saves! This Name forgives. This Name was written on a placard and hung over the head of the Lamb. He is Jesus, Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews. He has cleansed Zion and all who dwell therein. His blood has atoned for the sins of the world, and if the world’s so also yours. By His death, the old Adam is crucified. By His Resurrection those who believe on His Name are raised unto newness of life. This Name is the Name of our Salvation, the Name of our Savior, the Name of our God!
Therefore, Peter pours the Name of Jesus upon the nations this day, even upon you and upon me. With the Spirit’s outpouring we are not terrified as though we stand before a quaking Sinai with thunder and lightning filling the sky, but we stand before a God whose anger for our sin has been appeased, not by the deeds of our flesh and blood, but by the death and resurrection of His Son.
With Peter’s sermon this Pentecost day we are brought to “Holy Zion, to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are registered in heaven, to God the Judge of all, to the spirits of just men made perfect, to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling that speaks better things than that of Abel.” Peter’s sermon brings you to the blood of Jesus. It cuts to the heart, through the sin that so easily clings to us and fills the believer with new wine, gospel wine, wine that gladdens with the forgiveness of sins and the peace which surpasses all human understanding.
This is the mark of the last days! This is the end of the old world, the end of the old Adam, the end of the old you, the end of sin’s reign over you and death’s dreadful threat against your conscience. With the preaching of the blood of Christ, the Spirit of God wields the Sword of the Word against sin, death, and devil in you and in your life. The battle rages on in the life of every Christian, but as newborn, baptized, beleiving Christians you have already been declared victorious. You have won. Your victory is from Christ Jesus in whom you have been baptized. For the preaching of the Word leads to baptism, either its remembrance or its observance.
Therefore, dear Christians fix your heart and mind on the preaching of the blood of Christ! Let no other name be proclaimed to you. Let no other savior supplant Christ in your heart. But, by the Spirit’s power, read, learn, mark, and inwardly digest God’s Word. For God’s Word gives you Christ! God’s Word gives you the Blood! God’s Word gives you forgiveness, peace, life, and salvation. In this way the Holy Spirit calls, gathers, enlightens, sanctifies and keeps fallen creatures like you and me in the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church. We are kept in the forgiveness of sins. We are kept in Christ Jesus. We are kept in the blood of the Lamb. We are kept, preserved, sustained, strengthened, and empowered by the preaching of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, both now and forevermore, both here and to the ends of the earth!
Beloved in the Lord, it has been fifty days and “from this day the trumpet of the gospel teaching resounds. From this day showers of graces and streams of benedictions irrigate all the desert and every wasteland, to renew the face of the earth. God’s Spirit hovered over the water. To take away the old darkness, beams of light flash out, when by the splendor of those glowing tongues, the Word of the Lord becomes clear and speech takes fire. It has been fifty days and Peter and the twelve preach with boldness! They preach the blood of Christ, the Name of the Savior. All who call on the Name of the Lord shall be saved! As many who are baptized into Christ Jesus have been clothed with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for all are one in Christ Jesus. All are one in the blood of the Lamb. AMEN!
The peace of God which surpasses all human understanding keep your heart and mind through faith in Christ Jesus. AMEN!
Pastor Tony Sikora
Hope Lutheran Church
De Witt, MI