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When Mother’s Day and Pentecost Sunday fall on the same day (a sermon) May 11, 2008

Posted by roberttalley in Acts, Mother's Day, Religion, Sermons.
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THE WOMEN OF PENTECOST

Acts 1:12-15; 2:14-18

 

There has been a lot of talk about how early Easter was this year and how that none of us will probably see Easter come again as early in the year as it has this year. Because of the quirks of the calendar, this year Mother’s Day lands on the same day as Pentecost Sunday, which means that mothers have to share their holiday this year with the Holy Spirit. The last time this happened was 1951. The next time this happens will be in 2035. I will probably preach this same sermon on that day, so you can go ahead and make plans to be elsewhere.

 

Mother’s Day became an official national holiday in 1914 when President Woodrow Wilson signed a decree that the second Sunday of May be a day “for a public expression of our love and reverence for the mothers of our country.” This year, the fiftieth day after the Resurrection and the second Sunday in May are on the same day — May 11, 2008. Now usually, we do not think of mothers, or of women in general as being important at the first Pentecost but the Scriptures indicate that they were important.

We know that at least one mother, Mary the mother of Jesus, was present in the Upper Room on the day of Pentecost and as we will see later, possibly several. Certainly, there were a number of women present on the day of Pentecost and they were not there simply as window dressing. They had an integral and important part on that day which we will look at today.

 

These women were from the very beginning recognized as an integral part of the body of Christ (Acts 1:14).

They were devoted disciples. They continued to follow Christ after He ascended to heaven. Luke’s tells how that a group of women from Galilee accompanied Christ on His last trip to Jerusalem (Luke 8:1-3; 23:49; 23:55-24:10). Some of these women like Mary Magdalene were notable for the miracles Christ had performed in their lives in either casting demons out of them or in healing them of some infirmity. Others of these women were known because of their husband or because of their sons. They had ministered to Jesus and to the disciples during this last trip. They had heard many of the great teachings that we find in the book of Luke regarding following Christ. They had been there as He was crucified. They had watched as He was laid in the tomb. They were the first ones to see the resurrected Christ. It is no wonder that they were also there, as devoted disciples.

They were waiting with the apostles for the promise of the Spirit (Acts 1:4-8). They were not there ignorant of Christ’s purposes. They were waiting for the promise of the Spirit. John the Baptist had proclaimed that Jesus would baptize with the Holy Spirit. Jesus Himself had promised that baptism. This promise had not been fulfilled but Jesus had assured them that it was coming.

“…the Spirit on the day of Pentecost came to these people in answer to the prayer of Jesus, not in answer to their praying…but entirely and absolutely in answer to the request…of Christ Himself (G. Campbell Morgan)” (John 14:16). This waiting was evidence of their faith and trust in the promise of the Father and the prayer of Christ. Probably there is nothing that shows more evidence of trust than patience especially when you are out of the limelight.

One night, a group of ladies were having dinner celebrating the return of a friend form a fabulous trip. One of the ladies was a mother who felt sorry for herself when she compared her life mired in Little League car trips and peanut butter with that of her traveling friend. As she was feeling sorry for herself, her friend turned to her with a package and said, “I brought you this.” It was a book on the great cathedrals of Europe. Later she read the inscription: “To Charlotte, with admiration for the greatness of what you are building when no one sees.” It does not matter whether you are a mother or whether God has you in some other position that is overlooked and ignored. God sees and it is the patience you have when no one is looking that indicates the depth of your trust in God.

These women were waiting for the promise of the Spirit. They did not know what would come of this promise or how it would work exactly in their lives but they knew that it was necessary for them to wait with the apostles and the other men for that promise. They knew that it was meant for them also.

They were involved in worship with the apostles (Acts 1:14). It is interesting to see what they were doing as they waited. They were praying continually. One of the most common words for worship in the New Testament is connected to continual prayer. It is service to God. When we despise prayer, whether as individuals or as a group, we are despising the service and worship of our Savior.

This prayer meeting strengthened those who were sad and sorrowing because Christ had gone away. Remember, many if not all of these women had spent many days with Christ, serving Him and listening to Him teach. Their lives had been radically transformed by Christ. Their hearts had a huge void that was aching with longing for their Lord but He was gone. I’m sure they were praying for wisdom and strength and praising God for His greatness and mercy but no doubt they were also pouring out their heart in longing for Christ.

The successful prayer meeting is the place where God’s will and the carrying out of God’s will intersected one another. Perhaps I should mention what I mean when I say that the prayer meeting was successful. If they had not prayed in this manner, it is still possible they would have received the Spirit of God. The reason we can consider this prayer meeting successful is the fact that God’s will and man’s will melded together in that upper room. The prayer meeting in a sense is the evidence of this melding and welding together of God’s will. Successful prayer is not my changing God’s mind and will but rather the evidence that God is changing my mind and my will.

The prayer meeting was possible and successful because they were of one accord. This is obviously unnatural. In those days women were not considered significant. There was no Mother’s Day in the Roman Empire. The Pharisees used to thank God that they were not a woman but Jesus had made a change in the lives of these people. The apostles had the positions of authority and the women were at the bottom of the religious and social ladder but they were all in one accord praying. It is likely that some of the apostles’ mothers were there. We know that at least two of them had traveled with Jesus. The mother of James and John had tried to politic for her sons in the kingdom of heaven. There is no hint of such a thing now. Even Mary, the mother of Jesus, is there but notice she is mentioned as an equal with the others in her involvement in prayer and waiting for the Spirit as a follower of Christ. Oh, that we had such a unity in worship. How pleasing that would be to our Lord and Savior.

These women received the same Holy Spirit as the apostles even though their responsibility was not the same (2:14-18). Now before we see the implications of this for women, we need to understand what Peter is trying to tell his listeners.

He is making clear that equality in the Spirit was prophesied (2:14-18) and that it was to a certain extent being fulfilled before there eyes. Obviously, not everything that Joel predicted was fulfilled on the day of Pentecost. That fulfillment is still to come when Jesus returns to set up His kingdom. What was fulfilled though was the indwelling of all God’s people with the Spirit of God, young and old, free and slave, man and woman and that the purpose of this fulfillment was to call people to turn to Christ as the Messiah, the Savior of the world.

What Moses wished for (Numbers 11),

What Joel predicted (Joel 2:28-29),

What Peter explained (Acts 2:16-20),

Is now available to every believer (Acts 2:21).

And will be completed when Christ comes to set up His kingdom on this earth.

Now in this case, the ability to prophesy or to speak in tongues was the immediate method God used to testify of the wonderful works of God (Acts 2:11). God has not always used these methods and in fact, I believe, does not use these methods anymore. The significance is not in the method God chooses to use nor in the persons He chooses to use but the Holy Spirit which empowers those persons and methods enabling the gospel of Christ to be revealed through our witness and testimony. It is the power of the Holy Spirit that takes away any excuse not to be bold in our testimony for Christ (Acts 1:8).

Ladies, you need the power of the Holy Spirit just as much as I do. People often pray that I would be filled with the Spirit and I need to be. I need the power of the Spirit to preach, to pray, to work, to minister. The mother, however, who is trying to teach her children the ways of God needs the filling of the Holy Spirit also to empower her, otherwise her efforts will be powerless. She will not be able to pass on to her children the witness of Christ. The ladies who teach our preschoolers need this power. Our teenage girls need this power. Our teenage boys and retired men need this power. We all need this power, otherwise, we will fail in our witness for Christ.

There is more to this though that is implied but not directly taught in this chapter. Equality in the body of Christ was accomplished on that day (I Corinthians 12:12-14). On the day of Pentecost, the believers were empowered and they were indwelt by the Holy Spirit but they were also baptized by the Spirit into the body of Christ. When does this baptism take place? Galatians 3:26-27 answers the question clearly: “You are all sons of God through faith in Jesus Christ, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourself with Christ.” The order here is crucial. First there is faith which makes you a son of God, then you are baptized into Christ with the result that you are “clothed with” Christ. All of this happens at the moment of conversion. (Parts of this paragraph with thanks to Ray Pritchard). Let’s go on to verses 28-29, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” There may be a difference in gifts or position but every person, no matter there status is equal in the body of Christ because they were all put there the same way. They put their faith in Christ and the Spirit baptizes them into the body of Christ. Now just in case you still doubt that the Spirit makes us equal in Christ, look in the next chapter of Galatians (4:6), “And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, ‘Abba, Father!’”

This Baptism by the Holy Spirit into the Body of Christ is important because it takes away any excuse we have not to work together, love each other, or forgive each other (Galatians 5:13-16 and 5:22-26). It allows us to walk in the Spirit and not according to the ways of the flesh.

This unity with each other in Christ is the basis of the effectiveness of our service to God (I Corinthians 12-14 and Ephesians 4:7-12).

This unity with each other in Christ is the basis for the way we treat each other as believers (I Corinthians 13; Ephesians 4:1-6).

Ladies, I trust you see the importance you have in God’s family. People, tend to evaluate themselves by what they have and why they do not have. Some women see themselves as lacking because God has not blessed them with children. That pain is real. Those who are mothers often see their weaknesses or compare themselves with career women and feel inferior. Please, let me remind you that your importance as a lady, as a mother, as a person is not based on your outward circumstance but is established in Christ. If you have trusted Him, you are a part of His body by a special working of the Holy Spirit by indwelling you and empowering you and baptizing you into the body of Christ. Walk in that Spirit. Witness in that power. Live with confidence that you are significant to God and to His people as a member of Christ and His body.

Next Week: The Fold and the Feast – Psalm 23:1-6

 

 

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