Pastor Hopkins preached this sermon on the Festival of Pentecost, 5/31/2020. The service was broadcast live on Facebook at 9am, and is now available on the FLC youtube channel. To follow along from home, the bulletin is available as a PDF: Pentecost Bulletin
The texts for the sermon were the day’s lessons. To read the Bible texts for the festival of Pentecost, click here.
These last 50 days have been an Easter like no other. We’ve been through isolation and sequestration, home-working and home-worshiping. And our reward for a staying disciplined through a hard-fought summer will be a very frustrating bout of presidential elections.
After we are done cringing, all of that might be enough to make us feel restless, fearful, and alone. Feelings that have the tendency to turn us inward –
To blind our eyes, and cover our ears; to close the gates, to hoard our assets, to hunker down, to dig in, and stay put, lest the world notice us, and something worse come our way.
But staying put, tucked away in a corner, is not what Jesus has in mind for us.
In the reading from Genesis this morning, we remember the good folks who came from the east. They came and found some nice land and decided to build a city there.
It would be harmless enough, except this was not what God was hoping for. Just 10 chapters earlier in Genesis, God’s command was to fill the whole earth!
But by building this city with this tower, they told God that they’d rather stay put; that they’d rather not fill the earth. Going forward from there would be too much of a risk. They’d rather keep this comfort, this land, and this city. To wait things out and play the long game.
In the world this is also simply referred to as strategy. And, on the whole, strategies are fine. But this plan ends up being so detestable to God because of what it means:
It means rejecting His will for the sake of a vanity project – it means staying closed when you should be open; it means hiding, when you should be visible; it means being silent when you should speak; it means keeping, when you should be giving; and staying when you should be going.
This is a plan that is so contrary to the Kingdom of God, that He would come down Himself and put a stop to it.
It didn’t have to be this way. The one language could have been used for good. It could have been used for God’s glory.
Through the one language the whole world shared, the Gospel proclaimed in Genesis 3 could have been spread! That God Himself would come and crush the serpent’s head, even as that serpent would bruise His heel.
That He would not come to confuse us or harm us or ruin our fun, but to draw us to Himself, and to save us.
That’s the Gospel He wanted to fill the whole world! And it’s the Gospel we’ve been celebrating for these last 50 days of Easter!
That Jesus has come. He has died our death, been buried in our tomb, and He has been given the same resurrection He now promises to us!
Only one thing is left to round it all out.
On the day of Pentecost, all those peoples with different languages, generations upon generations later, having been dispersed, were gathered into one place (Jerusalem).
And so, Jesus makes good on the promise He spoke in today’s Gospel:
But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. verses 26-27
On Pentecost, we have the climax of the Divine conspiracy. Conspire – meaning: “To breathe together.”
The Father says “Go.” The Son says, “I’ll go.” The Holy Spirit says, “I will lead you.”
And together this day, Jesus and His Father send down their Holy Spirit for all of us.
He comes – sounding like wind and looking like fire. The Holy Spirit falls on the Apostles. And causes them to speak – not in some unknown tongue or angelic language, but in the languages of all those people gathered.
And so, on Pentecost. Babel is undone. Because God, through His Apostles, speaks one Word – Christ Crucified – with one Voice, the viva vox, the living voice of the living Jesus Himself, and He speaks it to one world, lost in sin and death and darkness.
And in that one Word, He brings one Peace. Not as the world gives, peace which is so frequently broken by war, but peace between God and man, found nowhere, except in Jesus Christ, and Him crucified for us.
If you’d like to know what those words sounded like, here they are in your own tongue; this is the end of Peter’s sermon:
Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.”
Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.” And with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them, saying, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation.” So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls. Acts 2:36-41
What this means is that Pentecost is not just for the Apostles; Pentecost is for you!
It is yours in your baptism! It is yours in the preaching of Gospel!
And happily, it is not only yours. It is, in fact, for you, and for your children, and for all who are far off.
The least the last the lost and the dead, for our friends, and our enemies, for all the people you know who desperately needs Christ, it is for them, too.
So, filled now with the Spirit at Font and Pulpit, and filled now with Jesus, at this very altar, Pentecost sends us out to a world that is still speaking gibberish.
We will not sit tight. We will not stay hidden. We will not be quiet.
But neither will we go and speak in anger or fear. We go in peace – loved by our One Heavenly Father, led by His one Holy Spirit, speaking with one voice, the living voice of Jesus, and His resurrection, heading forward to our one home in Eden.