Can you imagine the devastation the disciples feel after their
leader’s crucifixion? We cannot fathom what they anticipate
as they enter Jerusalem in what would become the final week of
Jesus’ ministry. They have been promised that they will “sit on
twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel” (Matt. 19:28)
with the restoration and renewal of the true nation of Israel.
They had no doubt forgotten Jesus’ warning: “If any want to
become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up
their cross and follow me” (Mark 8:34). Most no doubt forgot the
warning and embraced the promise of Palm Sunday.
All those dreams were crushed on the following desperate
Friday. What does the future hold for these unsophisticated
men? There are no MBAs among the group, no skill in planning
and sales. Probably none can read. So their first reaction to
seeing their slain leader once again has to be both astonishment
and elation—hope embodied.
A first appearance and Jesus’ first words, “Peace be with
you.” The disciples rejoice, but Jesus gives them little opportunity
to glory in the moment. Instead he issues the fateful directive,
“As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” Most critical
is that he then “breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive
the Holy Spirit.’” Jesus speaks their call and commission. And
yet again, the Spirit as new life and empowerment comes to
The origin of the church has divine roots, Spirit roots. The
Holy Spirit would serve as the disciples’ guiding light. Surely
they experienced some concern and unsettling as they wondered
how the Holy Spirit would support them as they went out
into the world to fulfill Jesus’ commission.
Creator God, we give thanks for the courageous disciples who, with Spirit-infused lives, picked up and carried on Jesus’ ministry to the world. Amen.
The foundation of the Pentecost festival is that series of events recorded in Acts 2, a decisive proclamation that links new life in Christ to the activity of the Spirit of God. At the heart of the church’s new life is its experience of the crucified, risen Lord, a reality also recalled in the John 7 reading. Psalm 104 celebrates the power of God in endowing the heavens and the earth with life, an endowment that is linked to the work of God’s Spirit. First Corinthians points the reader to the reality that the gift of life, having once been made, remains with the Spirit-led person in the form of a heart reoriented to new and marvelous deeds of witness.
• Read Psalm 104:24-34, 35b. God’s gift of Spirit animates the life and well-being of creation. Today, breathe in God’s Spirit; breathe out God’s praise.
• Read Acts 2:1-21. The church is the Holy Spirit’s creation to continue Jesus’ mission. What part are you playing in the ongoing drama of ministry and mission to the world?
• Read 1 Corinthians 12:3b-13. The writer asserts that “every day, people of diverse gifts . . . model by their example how the Christian life is to be lived.” How do you express your valuing of those who differ in worship style, theology, or doctrine?
• Read John 20:19-23. The writer says that Jesus’ call to his followers “is no easy assignment; it is not without peril.” How has being a Jesus-follower been difficult for you?
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