Fifth Sunday of Easter: Acts 11:1-18; Psalm 148:1-14 (or Leviticus 19:9-18); Psalm 24:1-6; Revelation 21:1-6; John 13:31-35
When the Holy Spirit comes on you … there is witness.
‘When the Holy Spirit comes on you… you will be My witnesses… to the ends of the earth’(Acts 1:8). This great advance of the Gospel – Salvation reaches ‘the Gentiles’(Acts 10:45; Acts 11:1,18) – is a movement of ‘the Spirit’(Acts 11:12). The Spirit speaks through the Word (Acts 10:44; Acts 11:15). In God’s Word, we read of (a) God’s love for the whole world (John 3:16); (b) God’s Son who died for ‘the sins of the whole world’(John 1:29; 1 John 2:2); (c) God’s command that ‘the Good News’ should be preached to ‘everyone’(Mark 16:15); (d) God’s purpose that there should be disciples of Christ in every nation (Matthew 28:19). ‘Every person in every nation, in each succeeding generation, has the right to hear the News that Christ can save… Here am I, send me’(Youth Praise,128). ‘Go forth and tell!’(Mission Praise, 178).
When the Holy Spirit comes on you … there is praise.
‘Praise the Lord’. Psalms 146 and 147 began and ended with these words. Now, we find the same beginning and ending in Psalms 148-150 – ‘Praise the Lord’. Our personal song of praise to God – ‘Praise be to the Lord my Rock… I will sing a new song to You, O God… I will exalt You, my God the King; I will praise Your Name for ever and ever; Every day I will praise You… My mouth will speak in praise of the Lord… I will praise the Lord all my life; I will sing praise to my God as long as I live’(Psalm 144:1,9; Psalm 145:1-2,21; Psalm 146:2) – is just a small part of something so much richer and fuller – ‘Let everything that has breath praise the Lord’(Psalm 150:6). May these great Psalms of praise inspire us to praise the Lord more truly and more fully.
When the Holy Spirit comes on you … there is holiness and love.
Holiness and love – the two belong together (Leviticus 19:1,18,34). God calls us to live a life of holiness, a life of love. Through His Spirit – the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of love – , He enables us to live this life. We need His promises. We need His commands. Take them both together – not one without the other! Promises without commands – We take God for granted, we presume on His blessing. Commands without promises – Our ‘obedience’ becomes a legalistic thing which has nothing to do with the Gospel of grace. We are to ‘be holy… before Him in love‘ (Ephesians 1:4). ‘The holiness without which no one will see the Lord’ (Hebrews 12:14) is to be accompanied by the ‘love’ without which we are ‘nothing’ (1 Corinthians 13:1-3). The Lord has redeemed us: By His grace, we shall ‘be holy… in love’ (Leviticus 19:34,36).
When the Holy Spirit comes on you … there is the hope of eternal glory.
For God’s people, there is a glorious eternal destiny: ‘I shall dwell in the house of the Lord for ever’(Psalm 23:6). We ‘receive this blessing from the Lord,…the God of our salvation’(Psalm 24:5). There is only one answer to the question, ‘Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord?: Jesus Christ ‘shall stand in His holy place’. No one else has ‘clean hands and a pure heart’- no one else but Jesus. He is the One who receives ‘blessing’from the Lord – and He gives it to us (Psalm 24:3-5)! How do we receive His blessing? – We must open our hearts ‘that the King of glory may come in’(Psalm 24:7,9). How can ‘the Lord, strong and mighty’ live in me? How can I receive His resurrection power? Jesus says, ‘I stand at the door and knock, if any one hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in’(Psalm 24:8; Ephesians 1:19-20; Revelation 3:20).
When the Holy Spirit comes on you … there is a great future.
Our Saviour is ‘Faithful and True’. He is ‘the Word of God’. He is our ‘Lord’ and ‘King’(Revelation 19:11,13,16). We are invited to ‘come’ to Him. The invitation – ‘Come, gather together for the great supper of God’- is a call to come to Christ (Revelation 19:17). We come to Christ so that we might ‘reign with Him’(Revelation 20:6). Coming to Christ is only the beginning. God is preparing us for something even better – reigning with Him. This is a great future – ‘no more death or mourning or crying or pain’(Revelation 21:4). There is, however, a Word of warning for those who refuse to come to Christ for salvation – ‘If anyone’s name was not found written in the Book of Life, he was thrown into the lake of fire’; ‘Their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulphur’(Revelation 20:15; Revelation 21:8). ‘Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved’(Acts 16:31).
When the Holy Spirit comes on you … there is a glorious future.
Difficult times lay ahead for Jesus. He would be betrayed by Judas Iscariot (John 13:21-30). He would be denied by Peter (John 13:36-38). For Jesus, there was His departure (John 13:31-33). It would be a difficult time for His followers. He tells them to ‘love one another’: ‘By this all men shall know that they are His disciples’(John 13:34-35). Jesus points them beyond the difficult times. He speaks of His glorious future. He assures them that the best is yet to be. He is preparing a place in His ‘Father’s House’ for us. He will come again to take us to Himself (John 14:1-3). He is the Way to this place, the true and living way (John 14:6). Now, He reveals the Father to us (John 14:9). Now, He is working in and through us (John 14:12-14). He is preparing us for His place: ‘Lord Jesus… fit us for heaven, to live with Thee there’(Church Hymnary, 195).
The Bible Readings are taken from the Revised Common Lectionary – Year C.