Whitsunday Morning Prayer (5 June 2022) Acts 2:1-11
Today is Whitsunday, which is seventh Sunday after Easter. After His resurrection, Jesus was in this world for forty days. During this time, He reminded the disciples about His teachings and strengthened them to build the kingdom of God in this earth. In Acts 1:4 and 5, Jesus “being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me. For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence.” Here, Jesus was referring to the comforter Holy Spirit whom He had spoken about in John 16:7. Jesus spoke to the disciples about the Pentecostal experience and the baptism of Holy Spirit even before His passion and death. The verse says, “Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you”.
Today, we are remembering this day of Pentecost from the New Testament. It was the day that the Holy Spirit was poured upon those gathered in the upper room. However, Pentecost is not an addition in the New Testament. In Leviticus 23, the LORD God asked His chosen people to celebrate seven festivals: Passover, Unleavened bread, First fruit or Harvest, Day of Pentecost, Feast of Trumpets, Day of Atonement and Feast of Tabernacle. Leviticus 23:10 mentions about Harvest Festival that we celebrate in September or October. “When ye be come into the land which I give unto you, and shall reap the harvest thereof, then ye shall bring a sheaf of the firstfruits of your harvest unto the priest”. Israelites celebrated Harvest festival when they inherited the promised land Canaan. Leviticus 23:15 and 16 say about Pentecost: “ye shall count unto you from the morrow after the sabbath, from the day that ye brought the sheaf of the wave offering; seven sabbaths shall be complete: Even unto the morrow after the seventh sabbath shall ye number fifty days; and ye shall offer a new meat offering unto the Lord”. Following this commandment, Israelites celebrated the day of Pentecost on the fiftieth day after harvest.
In the Old Testament, the first fruits of the Harvest were offered on the harvest festival day. These first fruits symbolised the entire harvest that was to follow. In New Testament, our LORD and Saviour Jesus Christ is the first fruit. His resurrection holds the promise and assurance for us to inherit eternal life. In the Old Testament, the fiftieth day after the harvest festival is the day of Pentecost. In New Testament, the Holy Spirit was poured on the people gathered in the upper hall on the fiftieth day after resurrection.
Two prophecies were fulfilled on the day of Pentecost. Prophet Joel prophesised in Joel 2:28, “I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions”. In Acts 1:5 Jesus said, “For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence”.
Why was the Holy Spirit poured on the people gathered in the upper room?
We know that God created humans without sin. But the early sin separated humans from the presence of God. God destroyed the earth but sin continued to be passed on to next generations. The Old Testament Laws and Commandments could not stop the people from committing sin. Committing sin and offering sacrifices was the routine practice. Finally, according to John 3:16, God the Father sent His only Begotten Son Jesus as Passover Lamb to suffer and die for our sins. His own people did not accept Jesus as Christ but crucified Him on the cross. The Passover Lamb was sacrificed for us and He redeemed us by His precious blood. John 16:11 says, “Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged”. Only the prince of this world who is the devil was judged when Jesus was hung on the cross but not the world. The bride, the church will be judged during rapture and the land of Israel will be judged during Antichrist reign.
When Jesus ascended to heaven, the angels told about the second coming of Jesus in Acts 1:11: “Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven”. When Jesus comes again, He expects the redeemed people to endure unto the end to inherit eternal life in the kingdom of heaven. According to John 16:8, the purpose of the Holy Spirit is to prepare and preserve us to inherit the everlasting kingdom in heaven. So Jesus sent the comforter Holy Spirit to reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment. The Holy Spirit will convict us of our sins, of the righteousness expected of us and the judgement that awaits us. According to Isaiah 30:21, the Holy Spirit will guide us and help us to keep His commandments when we turn to left or right.
What commandments did Jesus give?
Following Anglican faith and principles, we read the Ten Commandments at church before celebrating the Holy Communion. We also know that Jesus consolidated the Ten Commandments to two prime commandments. He consolidated the first four to ‘love your God’ and the next six to ‘love your neighbour’. When He gave these two commandments, He reaffirmed the need to follow the ten commandments. In His Sermon on the Mount, Jesus gave us the Beatitudes. He also said “except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven”. If we read Matthew chapter 5, from verse 21, we can understand that He gave commandments more stringent than the Old Testament commandments. Jesus gave us two commandments, the Beatitudes and laws more stringent than the Old Testament laws. He obeyed the laws and commandments given through Moses.
Although the New Testament commandments are more stringent than the Old Testament commandments, Jesus has called us to follow them. He expects us to be the light and salt in this world. He called us to be His witnesses and promises. We are to be cleansed with the Blood of the Lamb of God. We are to circumcise or rend our hearts, repent and turn to God. When David rent His heart, he prayed in Psalm 51:10 and 11 “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me.” We are to live our lives following Jesus’s teachings.
- When Jesus started His ministry, He said “Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand”. We must repent and follow the commandments He has given through the Beatitudes and other commandments.
- Jesus preached about the kingdom of God and fulfilled His Father’s vision and mission in this world. Jesus’ preaching transformed many people and the people in darkness saw a great light through Jesus.
- When Jesus was baptised, He received the Holy Spirit. He breathed on His disciples and told them to receive the Holy Spirit. In John 14:16 Jesus said, “I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever”. The Holy Spirit was also poured on the disciples on the day of Pentecost. We who are His disciples will receive the Holy Spirit when we pray to the Almighty Father.
- We need the Holy Spirit to guide us in the path of righteousness and lead us to eternal life. We need the Holy Spirit to convict and reprove us every day and align our walk to God’s laws and commandments. The Holy Spirit will prepare and preserve us for the kingdom of heaven.
Holy Spirit was poured upon the people nearly two thousand years back. As we celebrate another Whitsunday or Pentecost Sunday, have we received the Holy Spirit’s anointing? Are we listening and obeying the Holy Spirit?
In our Gospel reading today, Jesus asked us to follow His commandments if we really love Him. He said “if a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him”. If we love God, we will keep His commandments. We cannot say we love God without following the word of God. We need the Holy Spirit’s guidance to keep His commandments. We cannot follow Jesus with our own strength. We need the Holy Spirit’s guidance.
I pray we receive and renew our anointing of the Holy Spirit today. I pray we receive the power and be witnesses unto our Lord wherever we go, whatever we do. Amen!