Based on a sermon from Sunday, 5th June 2022
Acts 2:1-21; John 14:8-17 & 25-27
Having the privilege of watching England play cricket against Australia at the home of cricket, Lords, I have been part of a Mexican wave. It’s quite something to be involved in; each person in the crowd stands up and puts their arms in the air after the person to one side of them, creating a continuous wave-like motion through the crowd.
A wave in the sea has more in common with a Mexican wave than you might imagine. Although it looks as though the individual water molecules are moving, in fact they stay where they are, in the same way that an individual stays in their seat in the stadium, and the energy is transferred from molecule to molecule.
The Bible’s first mention of God’s Spirit goes right back to “the beginning”, when the Spirit moved on the waters like the wind, stirring up an enormous, powerful wave. It’s a story familiar to many people, as is today’s Gospel reading – the story of the Holy Spirit descending on the disciples like fire and wind – both powerful sources of energy.
In today’s Gospel, Jesus promises to ask the Father to send the Holy Spirit to be with us always. Jesus predicts that people will believe because of the works He has done, and also the works that His followers will do. So, we’re expected not to sleep on the job! Rather, the Holy Spirit will give us power to achieve more than we could on our own – and this all through God’s power. God, who created fire, wind and waves, will energise us to tell others of God’s love, in ways they can understand.
Jesus describes the Holy Spirit as “another Counsellor” or “another Advocate”, depending on your translation – because we already have one in Jesus himself. In a familiar introduction to confession, Jesus is “our Advocate in heaven”. The Holy Spirit is our advocate on earth. Advocate, meaning someone who helps us, stands alongside us, a bit like the person next to us in a Mexican wave, giving us the confidence to get up when it’s our turn. Someone has to start that wave, just as the wind starts the waves at sea, and Christians believe that initial power comes to us through God’s Spirit, sent from the Father and the Son.
In our reading from John’s Gospel, what Philip fails to see is that Father and Son are always working together to do the works of God. The miracle of Pentecost is that we can be part of that too. We can do God’s work and in turn help others to believe in the Father, who is in the Son, and the Son who is in the Father, and who, together, send us and live in us by the power of their Holy Spirit.
All Jesus asks of us is that we love Him and show it by keeping His commandments. He had already summed up the commandments in the familiar two: love God with all your heart, and your neighbour as yourself. And He also gave us a new commandment: “Love one another as I have loved you.” If we follow these commandments and believe in Jesus in terms of who He is, we will be able to do the things He did. But wait, Jesus says we will do even greater things, because He is going to the Father! What does this mean? Put simply, whoever has faith in Jesus will do what Jesus has done. This is how we know if someone is a follower of Jesus. This is how we know if we are followers of Jesus! The works Jesus did pointed people to God. The works we are to do are to point people to Jesus, and so to God! As a believer in Jesus our life (works, deeds, actions and words), are to point others to Jesus.
As Christians we have all received the Holy Spirit, this is the Spirit of the crucified and risen Christ. Before the resurrection of Jesus, nobody in the history of the world had ever received that, not even Jesus! In the power of this absolutely new experience — the indwelling of the crucified and risen Christ — our works of love and our message of eternal life in union with Christ, is to point people to the glory of the risen Son of God and His Father. As we do this we will be instrumental in people receiving the greatest gift and greatest healing of all – the forgiveness of their sins. All of which is on the basis of the finished work of Christ (John 20:23). This will be new, greater than what Jesus had done at that point, i.e. greater than Jesus’ earthly miracles because this is what He came to accomplish by His death and resurrection – the forgiveness of our sins.
We are called to carry on Jesus’ works. We do this by being His light in His world, and by living in His love that He calls us to share, and offering forgiveness of sins in His name as the crucified and risen Christ. When we do this we can ask Him for whatever we need in order for His interests to be furthered here on earth as it is in heaven. When these three “ducks” are in a row we can ask for anything in His name and He will do it.
In the sea, the waves go up and down where they are, bumping into each other, and the energy gets transferred. With that initial injection of energy from the Holy Spirit, whatever we do in the place where we are is part of something much bigger, something very powerful.
What can we do, in the place where we are, to help that happen?
This is your opportunity to spend time alone with God. The more time you spend with Him the more you will get to know Him as He reveals more of who He is to your heart, soul and spirit. This time will be personal and wholly unique to your faith journey with Him.
Read again the sermon and the two passages from Scripture: Acts 2:1-21 and John 14:8-17 & 25-27, and let them speak to you afresh in light of God pouring His Spirit over you.. As God speaks to you why not write down (in your journal) what you sense God is saying to you.
The benefit of writing down your thoughts helps you to check them against Scripture, and then plants them more firmly in your heart and mind than just simply thinking on things.
Digging into God’s Word
Go into a quiet place and invite God to show you how He wants you to respond these questions.
As you ponder on them why not write down your thoughts and share any reflections with others.
- What is Jesus’ answer to Philip’s question: “Show us the Father”?
- What else does Jesus say about His relationship with the Father?
- What are the “these” in “greater works than these”?
- In whose name and in whose delegated power do disciples do ‘their’ works?
- What will the Holy Spirit do for the disciples?
God, I pray for a softening of my heart, an openness to your Word, and for spiritual awakening in my soul and spirit. I pray that your fruit, planted in me by your Word, will yield a harvest a hundred-fold more than was sown, for your glory’s sake.
God, I pray for your word to bear fruit in the lives of all families, all churches and all communities, and among the nations that we will witness revival in your name. Through Jesus Christ we pray. Amen.