Reflections: May 22, 2021
The Eve of Pentecost
By Alfonso Espinosa
"And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth." (John 14:16-17a)
In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. We are on the verge of moving from the season of Easter to the season of Pentecost, which begins on the 50th day after the resurrection of our LORD! What an exciting day! It is the day when the LORD kept His promise recorded by the prophet Joel (Joel 2:28-29). On that great day our heavenly Father and our LORD Jesus Christ poured out upon the Church the Holy Spirit who leads Her to fulfill the Great Commission of The LORD Jesus Christ (Matthew 28:18-20).
Sometimes people get confused about this. They ask, "But didn't God's people have the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament?" Yes, they did, but in a different way. The Holy Spirit in the Old Testament was especially connected to God's house in the form of the tabernacle and later to the temple, run by specially appointed priests who conducted holy sacrifices for the people of God. But do you recall what happened to that temple when Jesus died on the Cross of Calvary? The curtain of the temple was torn in two (Matthew 27:51). This meant that the holy sacrifices performed in the temple were no longer necessary because the final sacrifice for sin had just been rendered by Jesus on the Cross.
The Holy Spirit was now "moving out of" the Old Testament houses, so to speak. It was time for the Holy Spirit to "move into" the house called the Church. And what is that? The Church is not a building made with physical materials, but consists of all Christians--new priests, "royal priests" (1 Peter 2:9)--who confess Jesus and who gather around His Word and Sacraments. Upon this Church the Holy Spirit has been poured out.
But how do you know that YOU share in the great gift of The Holy Spirit? You know because in the Church you were baptized into Jesus! Titus writes, "He saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior" (Titus 3:5-6). In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.
Almighty and ever-living God, You fulfilled Your promise by sending the gift of the Holy Spirit to unite disciples of all nations in the cross and resurrection of Your Son, Jesus Christ. By the preaching of the Gospel spread this gift to the ends of the earth; through the same Jesus Christ, our LORD, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
The Rev. Dr. Alfonso Espinosa is the pastor of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church of Irvine, CA. He is also the author of two books: Faith That Sees Through the Culture and Faith That Engages the Culture.
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