This is a very solemn weekend. It is the weekend that we celebrate Memorial Day and the unofficial beginning of summer. It is the time that we honor servicemen and women who have given their all in defense of our country and the American way of life. Of course, especially if you live in Indiana, it was also the 107th running of the Indy 500 – The Greatest Spectacle in Racing! It was the largest crowd since the 100th race and more than 320,000 people packed the stands, plus however many more watched from the infield. It was incredible to live in the middle of the hype this month of May. It’s so good to have the race back in all its glory after the COVID pandemic the last several years.
With everything else going on, it was easy to overlook the fact that today was also Pentecost – the celebration that occurs each year seven weeks after Easter Sunday. This day commemorates the descending of the Holy Spirit on the apostles and other disciples of Jesus as well as the beginning of the Acts 2 church as recorded by Luke. It occurs ten days after the ascension of Jesus back to heaven and His Father.
A dear friend sent me a devotional today highlighting the fact that Jesus actually filled His apostles with the breath of the Holy Spirit before he ascended to His Father. It was after the resurrection when the apostles were in a closed room and Jesus came to visit them. Thomas was absent but the other disciples received the Holy Spirit when Jesus filled them with His holy breath.
This was very significant in that there were several times in the Scripture that we read about being filled with breath. Adam was created from the dust of the ground and then God filled him with His breath and placed him in the Garden of Eden – reinforcing the premise that the book of Genesis is about “forming and filling.”
Jesus actually announced to His apostles that when He departed, the Father would send another in His place to be with them. But it is clear that the people of God really didn’t know what to expect – or when…
Jesus was always trying to prepare His followers for the future but the public didn’t understand the mission of the Holy Spirit. As God has continued His relationship with us, He has revealed more of Himself to us. First we knew God the Father as He led his people to the Promised Land – taking various forms by day and by night as He went ahead in the desert. Then, the Father revealed His Son, Jesus, to us. The fully human Jesus, born as a baby in Bethlehem, exemplified the idea that God was not only above us, but God also was among us.
Then, with the advent of the Holy Spirit, we experienced for the first time, God in us. That’s because the Holy Spirit actually takes up residence in the “naos” or inner temple of each believer. This was what Jesus was letting us know when He foretold the coming of the Holy Spirit – which actually happened at Pentecost.
But, as had happened on various other occasions, Jesus gave His apostles additional insight as to what was going to happen. This is what happened when the breath of Jesus filled His apostles with the Holy Spirit behind those closed doors when He appeared after the resurrection.
Our verse for tonight is the verse where the apostle John gives us the words of Jesus as He fills them with the Holy Spirit. John, in his Gospel, tells us in John 20:21-22, “Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.”
My encouragement this evening is that God is all around us – just like the air that we breathe. You don’t need a special invitation to be in communion with Him – it’s free, just like the air…. My prayer is that we will all take advantage of the relationship that God wants with each of us. And that we will all breathe in the Holy Spirit by accepting Jesus as Lord and Savior. Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…