THE BLOOD AND THE FIRE

Opening Prayer

God, where I encounter tensions as I explore and explain my faith, please give me the grace to know when to wrestle with and when to rest in your mysteries.

Read ACTS 2:22–36

22 “Fellow Israelites, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know. 23 This man was handed over to you by God’s deliberate plan and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men,[a] put him to death by nailing him to the cross. 24 But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him. 25 David said about him:

“‘I saw the Lord always before me.
    Because he is at my right hand,
    I will not be shaken.
26 Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices;
    my body also will rest in hope,
27 because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead,
    you will not let your holy one see decay.
28 You have made known to me the paths of life;
    you will fill me with joy in your presence.’[b]

29 “Fellow Israelites, I can tell you confidently that the patriarch David died and was buried, and his tomb is here to this day. 30 But he was a prophet and knew that God had promised him on oath that he would place one of his descendants on his throne. 31 Seeing what was to come, he spoke of the resurrection of the Messiah, that he was not abandoned to the realm of the dead, nor did his body see decay. 32 God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of it. 33 Exalted to the right hand of God, he has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and has poured out what you now see and hear. 34 For David did not ascend to heaven, and yet he said,

“‘The Lord said to my Lord:
    “Sit at my right hand
35 until I make your enemies
    a footstool for your feet.”’[c]

36 “Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah.”

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Footnotes

  1. Acts 2:23 Or of those not having the law (that is, Gentiles)
  2. Acts 2:28 Psalm 16:8-11 (see Septuagint)
  3. Acts 2:35 Psalm 110:1

New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Meditate

Pray for openness to the transforming presence of God, the Holy Spirit.

Think Further

In the closing chapters of John’s gospel, Jesus repeatedly promised that when he departed from this world, the Spirit would ‘take from what is mine and make it known to you.’1 This is precisely what we witness happening here: the Spirit had come with what looked like tongues of fire and enabled Peter to testify to the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, whom God has made ‘both Lord and Messiah’ (v. 36). This, remember, is the same Peter who had denied that he even knew Jesus but now, filled with the Spirit, he sees the cross in a completely new light and can understand and explain to the crowd how this terrible death (note the phrase ‘by nailing him to the cross,’ v. 23) has opened the gate of heaven to all believers!

Preaching on the subject of Pentecost, Jurgen Moltmann said that the story describes an ‘experience of the Spirit who descends upon men and women, permeates them through and through, soul and body,’ so that they ‘discover that they are filled with new energies they had never imagined to exist.’2 When William and Catherine Booth founded the Salvation Army in the nineteenth century, their flags were emblazoned with the phrase ‘Blood and Fire,’ a slogan that caused some alarm since it sounded distinctly radical, even revolutionary! However, they had captured the essence of the gospel as it appears in our text: the gift of the empowering of the Holy Spirit, transforming weak and frightened disciples into bold and faithful witnesses to the saving power of their crucified and risen Lord. Pentecost is not simply a once-for-all historical event, but the inauguration of a new age in which the presence and power of the Holy Spirit is the birthright of every believer.

Apply

In what ways can we claim our birthright and ‘be filled with the Spirit?’3

Closing prayer

Holy Spirit, thank you for the work you do in me—be at work through me so that others might know and follow Jesus.

Last Updated on May 21, 2024 by kingstar

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