Pentecost: Harvest Day!
Pentecost Sunday – Acts 2 – June 12, 2022
A Reading of Acts 2:1–13.
ESPN. Tony Kornheiser and Mike Wilbon. Friday right before NCAA Final 4. 1st weekend in April. They led with a story about coach K (Duke’s head coach). Instead of coaching in this year’s Final 4, he would step down immediately. The new coach would take over. They gave their normal time to talking about why he would do this. What it meant for his team in the Final 4 against UNC. Shocking story—but did you notice the date?
This morning we’re talking about Pentecost and the amazing events that took place there. But again: Did you notice the date? Pentecost took place—on Pentecost!
(I know, very insightful.)
This morning we’ll see why it’s important and use the date as a lens to understand what happens there.
Pentecost is an invitation for us to enter in to God’s harvest. Not to just watch it happen—but to participate in it.
The Lord of the Harvest invites us to join him in the harvest! In some ways this is a Part 2 to Ian’s sermon last week.
Four aspects of the harvest: (1) The Beginning of the Harvest (2:1–13); (2) The Power of the Harvest (2:14–21); (3) The Message of the Harvest (2:22–41); (4) The Harvesters of the Harvest (2:42–47).
We start with verse 1: “When the day of Pentecost arrived…” There’s something emphatic in the Greek here: “When the day of the Pentecost arrived.” This was no ordinary Feast day. By this point, over a thousand springtime Pentecost celebrations. But this was the long-awaited Pentecost.
Even the verb. This event didn’t just happen on the day of Pentecost. “The day…arrived.” It was anticipated and promised and waited-for. And now, it arrived.
What we want to see is the importance that this historical event happened on this particular day, “The day of the Pentecost.”
Pentecost is the Greek word for “50.” It’s the shorthand way of referring to the Jewish feast 50 days after the first signs of the wheat harvest.
The first time it’s mentioned is on Mount Sinai where God is giving the law to Moses. It’s right there in the covenant God made with Israel.
Three times in the year you shall keep a feast to me…. You shall keep the Feast of Harvest, of the firstfruits of your labor, of what you sow in the field. (Exod 23:14, 16)
You shall observe the Feast of Weeks, the firstfruits of wheat harvest. (Exod 34:22)
You shall count fifty days to the day after the seventh Sabbath. Then you shall present a grain offering of new grain to the LORD. (Lev 23:16)
It’s the Feast most known for a HARVEST. It’s when you “present a grain offering of new grain to the LORD.”
The harvest idea connects it to Jesus—Matthew 9:36–38; John 4:35:
When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” (Matt 9:36–38)
Do you not say, ‘There are yet four months, then comes the harvest’? Look, I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see that the fields are white for harvest.” (John 4:35)
“The harvest” in the words of Jesus means people turning to the Lord. People being saved. Jesus is saying the time for the harvest is now. It’s here.
What happens “when the day of Pentecost arrived”? It’s true that the Holy Spirit came in dramatic fashion. But the outpouring of the Spirit brought about a spiritual harvest. The harvest Jesus mentioned came true.
Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven. (Acts 2:5)
“We hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God.” (Acts 2:11)
So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls. (Acts 2:41)
And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved. (Acts 2:47)
The promise of the harvest is being fulfilled:
“In you all the families of the earth shall be blessed…. In your offspring shall all the nations of the earth be blessed, because you have obeyed my voice.” (Gen 12:3; 22:18)
APPLICATION: God has a plan! He’s accomplishing that plan!
Now we want to consider the POWER harvest—Acts 2:1–4 & Acts 2:14–21.
The Spirit comes in 2:1–4 and then Peter explains what happened in 2:14–21.
Immediately it’s clear there’s a power present who isn’t a human power. It’s a power bringing signs and wonders, inspiring speech, empowering Peter’s evangelism.
It’s the Holy Spirit. Given in a new way, because “the last days” have arrived. God said centuries before, “I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh” (2:17), and now he’s doing that. Prophecy is from Joel 2:28–32a.
Jesus said to his disciples a few weeks before this:
“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)
The Holy Spirit coming upon God’s people made these disciples into “witnesses.” Spirit-empowered witnesses.
That’s what happens:
The harvest is happening because of the Spirit of God falling on his people.
The Jerusalem church began the day as a group of 120. By the end of Peter’s sermon and ministry, 3,000 were “added” to that church (2:41).
When souls get saved it’s the Spirit of God at work. The Spirit inspiring us to be witnesses—but it’s the Spirit who changes hearts as the testimony is shared. =
E.g., Lydia in Acts 16. “The Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what Paul was saying” (Acts 16:14). “Pay attention” means heard and believed. All because “the Lord opened her heart.”
The power to accomplish the harvest all belongs to God. We’ll need to work hard and prepare well and pray. But the power to bring in the harvest is God’s.
APPLICATION: Pray, because it’s God who must do the work! But also, rest.
Now we see Peter the Evangelist. In verse 21 he had said, “Everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” Now we learn what name that is—“Jesus of Nazareth.”
Peter gives us here one of the great gospel presentations in the NT. This is the message of the harvest, the message people must believe to share in the harvest—Acts 2:22–41.
He tells the story of Jesus:
But this is also the MESSAGE OF THE HARVEST. The message is a SPECIFIC MESSAGE. To believe IN JESUS you have to believe certain things ABOUT JESUS.
Specific response to this specific message is required: Faith.
To have faith is, at its root, to rely on something we believe to be reliable…. The value of your faith isn’t in the faith itself, it’s in what that faith is trusting. Here’s the point: The worry that unsettles so many Christians—“Is my faith good enough, strong enough, and pure enough to meet God’s standard?”—is entirely the wrong question. The right questions are rather “What is my faith in? What am I trusting, hoping in, and relying on to secure my access into God’s presence, and is that good enough, strong enough, and pure enough to meet God’s standard?” And if your answer to those questions is, “My faith is in Christ,” then the answer to the question whether he’s good and strong and pure enough is a universe-shaking yes! “This is my beloved Son,” God said, “with whom I am well pleased!” (Matt 3:17).
Greg Gilbert, Assured
But in this passage there’s also an emphasis on what goes along with this specific faith: BAPTISM:
On “THE day of THE Pentecost” fitting that the gospel, the good news about Christ should be so central.
And Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 24 Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” (John 12:23–24)
“And you shall offer one male goat for a sin offering.” (Lev 23:19)
“…one male goat, to make atonement for you.” (Num 28:30)
For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins…. But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God…. For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified. (Heb 10:4, 12, 14)
APPLICATION: The central message is STILL the central message of the church: “Jesus of Nazareth” who is also “LORD AND CHRIST!!”
There’s a powerful transformation that happens at the end of chapter 2. The people that began as THE HARVEST actually join the HARVESTERS.
Getting saved wasn’t the end of the story. Building a church is where the story goes. These 3,000 souls join this new church plant.
And then what do they do? They begin to live dynamic Christian lives:
The Result? Their lives were being changed.
But something more: Their transformed lives began to impact other people. The HARVEST continued: VERSE 47.
The Spirit falling catapults the church into this harvest mission.
Jesus had promised them:
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)
And we are part of this GLOBAL HARVEST.
God is “the Lord of the Harvest” (Matt 9:38; Luke 10:2).
APPLICATION: We can all contribute to the harvest. See the variety within 2:42–47. In some ways this is the church being the church and Christians being Christians. But the result? The Lord adding day by day to those being saved! The result? A harvest!
How should we respond?
“Pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” (Matt 9:38)
How should we respond to the Lord of the Harvest:
Prayer and Closing Song
 Greg Gilbert, Assured: Discover Grace, Let Go of Guilt, and Rest in Your Salvation (Baker, 2019), 41, 42.
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