Today is the day after Pentecost. It’s the day after Christians around the world celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit and the birth of the first church, and the fact we live after Pentecost is hugely significant.
In the third chapter of the book of Acts we read a story that happens not long after the day of Pentecost. Peter and John were walking to the temple and passed a crippled man who begged there daily.
And a man lame from birth was being carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple that is called the Beautiful Gate to ask alms of those entering the temple.
Daily. They laid him there daily. So he’s been present. Present through Jesus’ ministry. Present while people gossiped about healing. Present on other occasions when the disciples had passed by. Present and still there, unchanged, desperate, broken. He’s not even asking for healing because that would seem impossible, just some change to help him get by.
But when he asks for change today, he gets a miracle. Because what seemed impossible before Pentecost is possible today. Something has changed. The disciples will have walked past this man day after day but today something is different, because today they’re filled with the Holy Spirit.
Seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple, he asked to receive alms. And Peter directed his gaze at him, as did John, and said, “Look at us.” And he fixed his attention on them, expecting to receive something from them. But Peter said, “I have no silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk!” And he took him by the right hand and raised him up, and immediately his feet and ankles were made strong.
Pentecost was a paradigm shift. Everything has changed. But it’s not just about the handful of people in the upper room having an experience, because that experience has opened up new possibilities for everyone they come into contact with.
The Spirit’s work if for the benefit of everyone
We’ve been in a season of learning about the Holy Spirit in church during the lead up to Pentecost, and exploring that further when we meet together in homes during the week. A recurring theme has been that when the Holy Spirit is at work in an individual it is for the benefit of everyone.
The spirit comes that we would be witnesses of the resurrection (Acts 1:8). He gives gifts to people not so that they can look impressive, appear more holy, or have a great party trick, but for the good of the whole community (1 Corinthians 12:1-11). He gave individuals as gifts to the church to equip the saints and build up the body of Christ (Ephesians 4:11-12).
To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.
When the disciples received the Holy Spirit? Everything changed for them – so that everything could change for other people. 3,000 people were added to the early church on the first day, that’s a historical attested fact, why? Because eleven people received the Holy Spirit, so that the lives of others could be changed.
What is the power at work here? As Paul explains in his letters to both the church in Ephesus and the church in Rome, it is the same power that raised Christ from the grave that lives in us (Ephesians 1:19-20, Romans 8:11).
One of the things that I feel most challenged by recently is this; if that power lives in me, what am I doing about it? Does my life have the evidence of it? Are things happening that can only be explained by the Holy Spirit?
If that power lives in me, what am I doing about it? Are things happening that can only be explained by the Holy Spirit?
The spirit’s work in us points people away from us and towards Jesus
The beggar at the gate expected the lowest possible thing, some spare change, the thing anyone could give, and yet he left with something beyond what he could have expected or hoped for. He asked for what he wanted and left with what he needed and end result of the was not that he was impressed with Peter and John but that he glorified God. The spirit’s work in us points people away from us and towards Jesus.
And leaping up, he stood and began to walk, and entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God.
– Acts 3:8
Do the people we interact with come away with the little they expect in the natural, or do they go away with something that can only be explained by the supernatural? Do people who expect from us the thing that anyone could give, leave having received something they can’t explain? Something that makes them glorify God?
Today is the day after Pentecost and if the same spirit that raised a man who had been brutally tortured and executed back to life really lives in us? Everything should be different.