Sermon for Third Sunday of Easter
“Complete Division, Perfect Unity”
April 30, 2017
Rev. Matthew William Crick
Sermon Text: Acts 2:36-47
The text places us at the first Pentecost day following Jesus resurrection and ascension. It provides a tremendous contrast: Through Peter’s preaching of Jesus that day, many who were in complete division against God, His Son Jesus, and the Apostles, were suddenly brought into perfect unity the same. God the Holy Spirit worked through the Word of God in the hearts of these people. They became members of the one Apostolic Christian Church, and members of the first distinctly Christian congregation of the New Testament era! In their sin, they had been rejecting Jesus, and their division against God and his Word was complete or total. In God-born faith, their new unity with God and his Word was made perfect: Jesus, the Word made flesh, had forgiven their sins, even unbelief, at the cross. This perfect unity expressed itself by their willingness to share all that they had in common with others in the church.
Pentecost Day was a high festival day, set apart by God through the law given at Mt. Sinai in 1500 BC. It was a spring harvest festival, and therefore a festival marked by joy. On the Pentecost Day following Jesus’ resurrection and ascension, it was joy like no other Pentecost had ever seen. It didn’t start out that way. There was great division in Jerusalem and hatred. Most of the people divided themselves against God by rejecting Jesus, his Son in human form. They also were divided against the Apostles whom risen Jesus had commissioned to go forth into the world beginning at Jerusalem. On this day, one of the Apostles, Peter, suddenly stood up before the city in the power of the Holy Spirit who had come upon the Apostles, and preached Jesus, crucified and now risen. The people were cut to the heart, and asked how they can be saved. Peter said “Repent and be baptized.” Many repented by the Holy Spirit and were baptized in the forgiveness of Jesus. Suddenly there was unity, unity with God who forgave them in Jesus, and unity with the Apostles, the ambassadors of Jesus. Suddenly the very first Christian Congregation formed, a harvest of souls. In the perfect unity of Jesus the believers shared everything they had with others in fellowship, a daily bread harvest.
Jesus taught his disciples to see the harvest of souls and to pray for it, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field” (Matthew 9:37,38). The harvest that Jesus saw is that of sinful people being prepared by God the Holy Spirit to believe in him, and so be saved and gathered into God’s heavenly harvest barn. God especially enjoys a harvest like this more than any other, a harvest of saved sinners. This is his joy. He makes use of grain harvests to illustrate the human harvest, and the joy of it. What worker in a field of wheat is unhappy when the harvest comes in? The Psalmist expresses this in Psalm 126, “He who goes out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with him.” So the harvest joy of the festival of Pentecost is fulfilled by the harvest of human souls carried into God’s heaven.
Solomon says there is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven.
- A time to tear and a time to mend. Pentecost Day!
- A complete tearing of division in Jerusalem (unbelief) For sinners, always time for division with God.
- Jesus was sent into the world to plant and harvest, to mend the tear, and bring sinners into unity with God.
- He was torn apart to mend us. He, a single seed, “died,” to produce much harvest.
- The true Pentecost harvest – not of grain, but saved sinners gathered in.
- The Old Testament harvest – Pentecost, festival of thanksgiving and joy for the harvest.
- Peter preaches in the Holy Spirit to fulfill Pentecost…
- A good harvest brings God and saved people joy. This is Pentecost.
- The first distinctly Christian congregation is gathered in Jerusalem. Because of Jesus, they gather and share daily bread with each other.
Fill my heart with joy when their grain and new wine abound. Psalm 4:7