Monday, April 8, 2013

Adult Sunday School Lesson for April 14, 2013

                         "The Holy Spirit Comes"
International/Uniform Sunday School Lesson for April 14, 2013

Scripture Text: Acts 2:1-13

Purpose: To receive the promise of God for empowered living

Acts 2:1-13 (CEB)

1 When Pentecost Day arrived, they were all together in one place.2 Suddenly a sound from heaven like the howling of a fierce wind filled the entire house where they were sitting. 3 They saw what seemed to be individual flames of fire alighting on each one of them. 4 They were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages as the Spirit enabled them to speak. 
5 There were pious Jews from every nation under heaven living in Jerusalem. 6 When they heard this sound, a crowd gathered. They were mystified because everyone heard them speaking in their native languages. 7 They were surprised and amazed, saying, "Look, aren’t all the people who are speaking Galileans, every one of them? 8 How then can each of us hear them speaking in our native language? 9 Parthians, Medes, and Elamites; as well as residents of Mesopotamia, Judea, and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the regions of Libya bordering Cyrene; and visitors from Rome (both Jews and converts to Judaism), 11 Cretans and Arabs—we hear them declaring the mighty works of God in our own languages!" 12 They were all surprised and bewildered. Some asked each other, "What does this mean?" 13 Others jeered at them, saying, "They’re full of new wine!" 

My Thoughts by Burgess Walter

It has been fifty days since the passover, where Christ was sentenced to death on the cross. The disciples and others continue to gather daily at the temple and pray. They had been told by Jesus in Acts 1:4 “While they were eating together, he ordered them not to leave Jerusalem but to wait for what the Father had promised. He said, "This is what you heard from me: 5John baptized with water, but in only a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit."  According to Luke's writing in Chapter One of this letter, Jesus had remained with them or appeared from time to time to them for forty days after his resurrection. Acts 1:3b “He appeared to them over a period of forty days, speaking to them about God’s kingdom.”

Of all of the Jewish Feast days or Holy Days only the Passover (our Easter) and Pentecost are celebrated by the Christian world. As a very young Christian, I was amazed to find out that Pentecost was a Jewish Holy Day. It was a celebration of “First Fruits” in Exodus 23:16, 34:22 and in Leviticus 23: 15-21. It was also known as the “Feast of Weeks.” By the first century after Christ, the Jews celebrated it as fifty days after receiving the Law from Moses on Mt. Sinai. Pentecost in Greek simply means “fiftieth.”

Immediately after the “Accession of Jesus” on the Mount of Olives, the disciples gathered together in an upper room. Acts 1:15 implies that Peter had already become the spokesman for this group of followers numbering about 120. ( Acts 1:15 “During this time, the family of believers was a company of about one hundred twenty persons. Peter stood among them and said,”) This was at the time of the selection for a replacement for Judas.

Since this would be a very large group for most family homes, it is possible that this room was at the Temple complex and was a room used for large meetings. At this point in time the disciples and Jesus followers were very devout Jews. It is also possible that it was in this same environment, the Holy Spirit came to the 12, plus maybe the 120.

From Luke's writing it appears that this all spilled over into the Temple courtyard, which would make sense if the disciples and followers were already in the area when the “Holy Spirit” appeared to them anointing each with fire.

From Luke's account the Temple area was filled with “pious Jews” from all over the known world. What a great way to get the “good news” of the gospel out to thousands or maybe millions, in all parts of the known world.

So God's plan was that at least someone from every nation had heard the “gospel” just fifty days after the Crucifixion. And this was way before social networking or “Twitter.”

Surely they all reported what they saw to someone. Of course there were those that blamed the whole thing a bunch of drunks. The miracle of speaking or hearing in your own language from a bunch of uneducated Galileans may have been harder to explain.

In our day and age we may be on the brink of an even bigger discovery. Recently scientist have identified what is called the “God particle,” and from the space station “dark matter” or “dark energy” experiments convince some that it is more than simple gravity that hold the cosmos together.

God continues to work in our lives and in our world. What will it take to convince you that Jesus was, and is, exactly whom he claimed to be.?

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