May 15, 2016 A+D
In the Name of the Father and of the +Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Pentecost was one of three major pilgrim festivals in the Old Testament. It was a harvest festival and required the people to worship in Jerusalem at the Temple. That is why there were visitors from so many places near the Upper Room when they heard the loud noise.
The rabbis had connected Pentecost with the giving on the Law on Mount Sinai. The Old Testament, that is not the books of the Bible but the promise of God to be the God of Israel, was born in the Exodus. God declared Israel to be His by sparing them the Law’s end, taking in their place the life of a lamb. Then He delivered them out of slavery and death by the waters of the Red Sea. That Testament was completed on Sinai where God instituted a constitutional monarchy. He would be their God and they would be His people. He would hear their prayers and give His Spirit to them. He would not forsake or forget them and they would never be the subjects of the devil again. He would provide for them and forgive their sins. They would live as His people, with His Name upon them, and they would live holy lives according to the Law. The Holy Spirit spoke to them, guided them in life and through death, through that Law and Promise.
In the New Testament of His Blood, Christ expands the monarchy of His grace. He endures and suffers the Law, is born under its curse, subject to its punishments. Thereby He fulfills and finishes, perfecting in Himself, the promises of the Old Testament. This relieves His people Israel. The burden of counting days and washing hands and abstaining from certain foods is lifted. The awkward and painful covenant of circumcision is removed and replaced by Holy Baptism. So also He extends citizenship to the Gentiles – creating for Himself a new people who were no people, of every tribe, nation, and language, circumcised and uncircumcised, men and women, young and old.
This New Testament is begun in the giving of His Blood in the Upper Room. That which was forbidden – the consumption of Blood for life is in the blood – is not only lifted but now commanded. “Drink ye all of it,” He says, “for this is the New Testament in My Blood shed for the forgiveness of your sins.” Then He is arrested and mis-tried and tortured until He is condemned by earthly authorities and by the Law of God to die as a Substitute Lamb for Barabbas and Caiaphas and us. There God ratifies the New Testament made in the Upper Room. This Testament undoes the wrath of the Old Testament by the shedding of His Blood. That Blood and His Word declares the Old Testament’s demands and accusations finished even as He prays on our behalf that His Father accept His sacrifice and forgive us. Therein we are declared righteous and holy and the angel of death passes over us leaving us unmolested and unharmed. The angel of death is transformed and becomes our guardian and compatriot. The Lord makes there, on the cross, of all who believe in Him His own dear people – the sons of Abraham out of stones. He sheds His Blood to end the Law and begin the New Testament, the Holy Sacrament, wherein He gives His life, for the life is in the Blood, to His people and joins them to Himself.
Then on the third day He undoes death. He rises from the dead, victorious. His sacrifice is accepted. His holiness is vindicated. His Word is proved true and His love is evident. He is the Way, and the Truth, and the Life. His Resurrection usher us through and out of slavery to sin and death. The waters of the Red Sea that drowned Pharaoh and his army are now fulfilled and finished. He is done with death. He has taken away its sting. The life giving waters, rich in grace, of Holy Baptism bring us with Him into Life Everlasting.
Which bring is to Pentecost, a harvest festival re-born and renewed. The New Testament begun in the Upper Room and ratified on the Cross and out of the tomb is completed again in the Upper Room when the Ascended Christ pours His Spirit upon the Apostles to again institute and re-invigorate a constitutional monarchy. The Law of Sinai is fulfilled. The Spirit comes.
He would be their God and they would be His people. He would hear their prayers and give His Spirit to them. He would not forsake or forget them and they would never be the subjects of the devil again. He would provide for them and forgive their sins. They would live as His people, with His Name and Spirit upon them, and they would live holy lives according to the Law.
The Holy Spirit speaks to us in the Law and prophets, as was begun on Sinai, and now He speaks also in the writings of the Apostles. He uses those Holy Scriptures to guide us in life and through death, through Law and Promise. He makes us His Temples and He prays for us with groans that words cannot speak. He calls us by the Gospel, enlightens us with His gifts, and sanctifies and keeps us in the one true faith. He, who once lit upon Moses on Sinai, who burned in the bush but did not destroy it, lights upon the Apostles to give us the Bible. And there He speaks.
Thus we have the correspondence of circumcision to Baptism, of Passover to the Sacrament of the Altar, and of the Ten Commandments and promise of God to their God to the writing and preservation of the New Testament – in languages that we can read and understand – not simply English or Spanish or German – but the language of faith, the language of the Creed, the language of Holy Baptism and the Holy Spirit.
Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of Your faithful and kindle in them the fire of Your divine love.
In +Jesus’ Name. Amen.