Study 7: Resurrection Living: Pentecost - promised, received and active
Sermon Date: June 4th, 2017
Readings: Acts 2.1-14.

Whenever we read Luke's Gospel or the Book of Acts, we must always remember that they are volumes 1 and 2 of Luke's full account of the Good News.  So a passage at the end of his Gospel is often illuminated by reading on into 'Acts', and vice versa. In this case, maybe your group might like to read Luke 24.36-53., and then continue reading Acts 1. 1-11, before you plunge into chapter 2.1-14. This little diversion might give a bit wider perspective; seeing the links between the two books.

Luke gives us much that no-one else does in terms of unique material: only he tells us about Mary and Elizabeth's pregnancies; Jesus' immediate birth narratives, (Matthew picks it up later, when Magi arrive); many of our well-loved parables; and these accounts of the Ascension and Pentecost.
Ascension Day is almost neglected in many churches, but is one of the major festivals of the Church, and we have Luke to thank for it. Luke has told us of God the Father's plan to send his Son. He has told us how important it was that Jesus should live among us, die for us, and on the third day be resurrected. There is a full and logical progression.  And at the end of his Gospel account, [Luke 24.44-49], Jesus also describes this progression, in his 'farewell speech' to them, -and rather a daunting responsibility is put on them as 'witnesses' to preach forgiveness to all nations, starting in Jerusalem! But Jesus also adds, “I'm going to send you what the Father has promised”. And in Acts 1.1-14, that promise is fulfilled.

Some questions:

Part 1: promised

Imagine you are one of those Apostles. When you get up early on that Pentecost morning, what do you think it is that God has promised you; when will he give it?
What are you expecting/hoping for?
In your own, real life, -what are you expecting from God today? Do you ever feel that he has promised you something that never quite got off the ground?
What might explain this seemingly unfulfilled promise?

Part 2: received

It is one thing to be offered something that was promised, -another to receive it.
Discuss the extent to which the Apostles had any choice over whether to receive it or not.
Have a discussion in your group about what you image actually happened to the Apostles in that 'one place'.
Was it what they expected?
Describe what they received, without using the words 'Holy Spirit'.

Part 3: active

What is the one thing that the crowds from various countries and regions all witnessed and were amazed by?        [hearing in their own language]
What is the value of this phenomenon?        [good communication]
What Biblical idea is it reversing?        [Tower of Babel: Genesis 11.]
How does this fit into the Apostles' mission?
For further discussion if you feel like:
Jesus often spoke in riddles, or enigmatic ways: e.g. Mark4.11-12.
Did Pentecost change that?

Christine Bailey, 24/05/2017