And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.…
There is a Christian as well as a Jewish year; we ought not to be unmindful of the changes which illustrate God's holy counsel and tender conduct. The Author of natural and spiritual life is one, and He gives many a hint of His gracious purpose in the changes of the year. Christ has taught us to see in seed-sowing a symbol of the Cross, and a call to Christian sacrifice. The "harvest," the solemn fruitful autumn-time, reminds us of "the end of the world," and has its strangely blended influences of mournfulness and hope. Spring is a type of the resurrection; life bursting out of the grave. Of all symbols of the Christian life, this early summer-time is the most blessed. Calm as these warm and not yet sultry days; peaceful as early June mornings; fresh as the dews and showers; rich as the verdure of our landscape, it is given us to know that our Christian life is under the silent energy of the Spirit.
I. THE PASSOVER AND PENTECOST WERE INTIMATELY CONNECTED.
1. The injunction to keep the feast of first-fruits concludes, "and thou shalt remember that thou wast a bondman in Egypt"; the rejoicing followed the commemoration of the deliverance. The Jews call the day of Pentecost the "concluding festival" i.e., the festival that concludes the Paschal celebration. The association is not difficult to trace. The national life of Israel was the sequel to their deliverance from Egypt. It was not enough for them to be set free and to be led into the desert. God had prepared a land for them needing greater labour and more careful cultivation than Egypt, but yielding better fruits. The feast of Pentecost was their memorial that God had fulfilled His promise. They brought the fruits of the land which He had given them, and remembered year by year that He blessed their toil, and was nourishing the men He had redeemed,
2. Spiritual life is the sequel of Christian redemption; the gift of the Holy Ghost was God's purposed supplement of Calvary. Spiritual history begins with the Cross, but it does not end there. It sometimes happens that the first gladness and gratitude of a forgiven soul are followed by a strange restlessness and dissatisfaction, as was the deliverance of Israel. But the Paschal time, of haste and scarce-quelled anxiety, of girded loins and unleavened bread and bitter herbs, are followed by the Pentecost of life, love, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost. It is not till this Divine life is formed within us by God's Spirit, strong as the forces that clothe the earth with summer beauty, that we can fully commemorate the death of Christ which is our redemption. The Holy Ghost was needed by the men who were to be preachers of the Cross. He not only unfolded to them its meaning; He dwelt in them an energy tender, earnest, and strong, like that of Christ the Redeemer. They had life in them; and nothing could suppress their faith, their gladness, or their labours; and by all the genial force of life, men were constrained by their influence, and drawn into their communion. And so now, if Christian teaching is ineffective, it is because it lacks the force of Christian life. Our teaching may be scrupulously orthodox, yet very repellent and cold. Our efforts may be unnumbered, and our plans most wisely organised; yet, without the love, the earnestness that only life can give, they will be all in vain. There is something for us besides praying for the Divine life; it is to live it. Christians sometimes ask that "the Spirit may be poured out." He has been poured out.
II. PENTECOST WAS A MEMORIAL OF GOD'S CONSTANT PRESENCE AND POWER. The feast was ordained to remind the Jews who it was who gave them their corn and wine and oil. They were not permitted to eat of the year's harvest till the first sheaves had been waved before the Lord, and the two loaves offered to Him; lest they should think that the earth brought forth fruit of itself, lest they should be undevout, and gluttonous, and drunken in their feasts. This was the consecration of the "first-fruits" which would hallow the "whole lump" of which they were daily partaking. The Jews, like Englishmen, were prone to practical atheism; they, like Englishmen, only recognised God in signal events of their history, unmindful of the care that was daily mindful of them, and the bounty which daily made them glad. All piety decays when we forget that the "Father" is "ever working." Body and soul, as well as spirit, have been redeemed by the blood of Christ. Food and raiment, house-room and friends, have been given us by the same Father who gave us His Son. The power that quickened the world from the Cross is ruling over it still; the love that shines in the Cross gives summer flowers and autumn fruits. Men who see nothing more than forces of nature in the power that yearly clothes the hill-sides, and makes the valleys fruitful, see too in the Christian life nothing more than human nature under new developments. The day of Pentecost is the witness of a Divine person abiding near us, and working in us all the energies and influences of a Christian life. It prevents our falling into that despondency which must be our lot if we have none to trust in but ourselves. Where we are powerless, He imparts life; and then truth becomes plain, and motives are felt that we could not awaken. Earnest Christian people need the teaching of the day of Pentecost. There are many who connect the Holy Ghost only with their conversion, and with periods of high-wrought emotion; but in the whole range of Christian life, however varied to our feeling, the Spirit, the source of life, is working. Yes, and in hearts that have not yet yielded themselves to Jesus; in children born into godly households, and abandoned ones listening wonderingly to new words of hope and love; in providential circumstances; by words of kindness and deeds that flow from a heart of love; in everything that has a Christian tendency, in every influence that comes from Christ and moves towards Him, "worketh that one and the self-same Spirit, dividing to every man severally as He will." A few weeks ago, and though ,we knew, we did not feel that summer was nigh. The trees were bare, and the earth was hard, and we shivered beneath the chilling blast. But God was working; the spirit of life was moving in the sluggish sap, the sun was gathering force, and the western winds were on their way to us with refreshing showers. And lo! the summer is hero. Let us work according to God's will, and we shall one day see the glad and genial life that the Divine Spirit is accomplishing; for He is near us and is in us still. "I have planted, Apollos watered, and God gave the increase."
(A. Mackennal, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.