Acts 2:1-21

This text is used for the Lectionary Year A on June 4, 2017.

The Lord Jesus always keeps his promises in his time and in his ways.  He promised after he went away, the Holy Spirit would come to his disciples as a Helper to comfort, empower, and guide them in their gospel witness and work (John 16:5-15; Acts 1:1-8).  On the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1), the timing was right for the fulfillment of this eternity-altering promise to unfold.  The symbolism intertwined with the fulfillment of this promise is worth noticing while watching this holy moment initiated “from heaven” and instituted “on earth” take place (cf. Matthew 6:10).

Luke tells his readers the effects surrounding the Holy Spirit’s entrance came “from heaven” that included sounds like “a mighty rushing wind,” sights of “divided tongues as of fire” and results of those in the room who “began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance” (Acts 2:2-4).  This promise was fulfilled after Jesus had ascended to heaven.  Once Jesus was present in heaven, the creative power of God’s Spirit came down “from heaven” to enable the next phase of God’s redemptive work to be done “on earth.”  The presence of God could begin in a new way on this historically significant day “on earth as it is in heaven.”

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1 Corinthians 12:3-13

This text is used for the Lectionary Year A on June 4, 2017.

Of all of the wonders of creation, the human body may be the most amazing.

For example, consider the human sense of smell. Although it is hotly debated in scientific circles, some have estimated that the nose is capable of discerning a trillion different scents. Consider the human eye. It contains 120 million sensitive structures called cones. They are very sensitive to light, but not to color. If we only had them imagine how different our perception of the world would be. There are 6 to 7 million structures called cones concentrated in the eye’s macula region that provide sensitivity to color. Because of them, humans can differentiate an estimated 7-10 million different hues. Consider the human brain. The brain is capable of processing information from the nose, ear, and eye at the same time while also maintaining our hormonal levels, monitoring our heart rate, setting our mood, keeping track of our memories, and keeping us from losing our balance. All of this, the brain can do seamlessly. The human body is a fantastically designed masterpiece of God.

While Paul may not have had our scientific sensitivity to the wonders of the human body, he certainly thought of it as an amazing work of God. In looking at the body, Paul found a metaphor for how the Church should function and for the use of spiritual gifts within the congregation. 1 Corinthians 12:3-13 is not the only time Paul uses the metaphor of the body for the Church; he does so in Romans 12, 1 Corinthians 10, and Ephesians 2-4. His argument in this passage is that just as the body is a diversity of members working together, the church is a body of diverse members with diverse gifts working together.

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Acts 1:6-14

This text is used for the Lectionary Year A on May 28, 2017.

After Jesus’ resurrection, he showed himself to be alive to the disciples and many of his other followers over the next forty days. Jesus continued to talk with them about the kingdom of God (Acts 1:3) as his time of departure approached.  His final conversation with the remaining eleven disciples took place on a Thursday before he ascended from earth back to heaven.   The main theme of the conversation still centered around the kingdom of God.

The disciples thought if their king had risen from the brutal death he endured, then their ideas of the coming kingdom must be alive once more.  Perhaps now was the time Jesus would free them from the ongoing Roman oppression they had endured as Jews since 63 B.C.  Now would be a wonderful time to put their occupiers out of their sights and cleanse their promised land of Israel of all foreign rule and idolatry that had crept in over the past half millennia plus.  Thus, the final recorded question to Jesus from the disciples before his ascension is an important one that helps us understand their ongoing expectations.

“Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” (Acts 1:6)

Jesus tells them such timing is not the main issue for them to concern themselves and instead redirects their question to a promise and a purpose for them.  The promise is that power is coming to them in the form of the Holy Spirit.  The purpose is for them to be his witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.  Luke groups his letter of Acts in this succession of chapters: Jerusalem (1-7), Judea and Samaria (8-12), the ends of the earth (13-28).

The theme of “witness” saturates Acts as the word “martures” in various forms is found thirty-nine times. We get our English word martyr from this Greek word for witness as the two became linked through the stories of persecution of the faithful ones who shed their blood as martyrs of the faith as they witnessed about their risen king named Jesus.

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1 Peter 4:12-14, 5:6-11

This text is used for the Lectionary Year A on May 28, 2017.

Like any good work of prose, the book of 1 Peter returns to its major themes as it approaches its conclusion. In 4:12-14, 5:6-11 the text points the reader to what has been asserted from the beginning, that suffering is part of the Christian experience. The closing, however, is not mere recapitulation. It gives fresh insight into the purposes of suffering and direction about how to endure suffering.

The believer is not to be surprised by suffering. On Palm Sunday 2017 terrorists attacked two Coptic Christian congregations in Egypt killing 44 and wounding over 100. Christians in the Middle East and other parts of the world routinely face suffering in the form of persecution. The persecution of believers has become so widespread and frequent that seeing reports of it on the news is almost normal. If this text were to be read by Christians in Egypt, the application would be straightforward. Do no be surprised that suffering and persecution is part of your experience. Jesus suffered, and believers are not above their Master.

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