Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:
‘The Manifestation of the Holy Spirit at Epiphany and Pentecost’
© January 10, 2016 by Steve Mickelson
Call to Worship: Responsive Reading #624: (The Great Commission – Mark 11 and Matthew 21); Prayer Opening Hymn #581: There’s a Sweet, Sweet Spirit Tithing and Prayer; Hymn #572: Praise God; Prayers Today’s Scriptures: Luke 1:26-38, Matthew 3:13-17, John 2:1-12, Acts 2:1-13
Let us pray…
Welcome to our Sunday morning Praise and Worship Service at BLCF Church, where our lesson today is entitled: ‘The Manifestation of the Holy Spirit at Epiphany and Pentecost’. Before we get too involved in the lesson, let us check out the definition of three terms used in the lesson’s title: manifestation, Epiphany and Pentecost.
The first term is manifestation:
Manifestation – from the Thesaurus portion of freedictionary.com
|noun||1.||manifestation – a clear appearance; “a manifestation of great emotion”
appearance – the event of coming into sight
epiphany – a divine manifestation
theophany – a visible (but not necessarily material) manifestation of a deity to a human person
Word of God – a manifestation of the mind and will of God
tidal wave – an overwhelming manifestation of some emotion or phenomenon; “a tidal wave of nausea”; “the flood of letters hit him with the force of a tidal wave”; “a tidal wave of crime”
The term manifestation might be illustrated when BLCF Cafe volunteers help with various chores at our Community Dinner as an expression of compassion and care to the guests.
Those Christian volunteers among the team believe that by serving the least of their brothers and sisters is a manifestation of service to their Lord, Christ Jesus, where physical actions are an expression of love and faith.
Next, let us look at Epiphany:
Epiphany – from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
- Epiphany (holiday), a Christian holiday celebrating the revelation of God the Son as a human being in Jesus Christ
- Epiphany season, the liturgical season following the Christian holiday
- Epiphany (feeling), an experience of sudden and striking insight
- Theophany, the appearance of a deity to a human being
And last, but not lease, we have Pentecost:
Pentecost – from Wikipedia.org
Pentecost (Ancient Greek: Πεντηκοστή [ἡμέρα], Pentēkostē [hēmera], “the fiftieth [day]”) is the Greek name for Shavuot (Hebrew: שבועות, lit. “Weeks”), the Feast of Weeks, a prominent feast in the calendar of ancient Israel celebrating the giving of the Law to Moses at Sinai. In Christianity, Pentecost is celebrated fifty days after Easter Sunday, inclusively (i.e., 49 days with the first day counted, seven weeks), hence its name.
In the New Testament, Pentecost was the occasion of the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles and other followers of Jesus Christ, as described in the Acts of the Apostles 2:1–31. and therefore in the Christian liturgical year, it became a feast commemorating this occasion. For this reason, Pentecost is described by some Christians as the “Birthday of the Church”.
Christians commonly accept that Epiphany marks the occasion when our first Lord demonstrates his supernatural divine nature to humanity as part of the Godhead or Holy Trinity, though there is some disagreement among scholars as to when the Epiphany took place.
Let us look at the three events in the Scriptures, which happen to involve two of the three members of the Trinity: Jesus, the Son of God and the Holy Spirit. Depending on the scholar, each event may be considered Epiphany or the first physical manifestation of Epiphany.
Our first Scripture verse concerns how Mary became the mother to Jesus, from Luke 1:26-38 (ESV):
Birth of Jesus Foretold
26 In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, 27 to a virgin betrothed[a] to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin’s name was Mary. 28 And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!”[b] 29 But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. 30 And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”
34 And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?”[c]
35 And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born[d] will be called holy—the Son of God. 36 And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. 37 For nothing will be impossible with God.” 38 And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant[e] of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.
Footnotes: a. Luke 1:27 That is, legally pledged to be married b. Luke 1:28 Some manuscripts add Blessed are you among women! c. Luke 1:34 Greek since I do not know a man d. Luke 1:35 Some manuscripts add of you e. Luke 1:38 Greek bondservant; also verse 48
Mary conceived her son by way of the Holy Spirit, where the Power of the Most High had overshadowed her. In this verse, the Holy Spirit is described as “the Power of God, who is the Most High. The conception is a miracle of God.
Our next Scripture describes the baptism of Jesus in the Jordan River, in Matthew 3:13-17 (ESV):
The Baptism of Jesus
13 Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to John, to be baptized by him. 14 John would have prevented him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” 15 But Jesus answered him, “Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he consented. 16 And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him,[a] and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him; 17 and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son,[b] with whom I am well pleased.”
In this Scripture, the Holy Spirit descends like a dove upon Jesus after his baptism. We hear a voice from heaven, from the Most High, describing Jesus as His beloved Son, with whom He is well pleased. Both the arrival of the Spirit, Who appearance is descending like a dove and the voice from heaven announcing the identity of Jesus are miraculous in nature, from God.
Our third verse describes the miracle Jesus performed at the wedding at Cana, where our Lord changed water into wine, as described in John 2:1-12 (ESV):
The Wedding at Cana
2 On the third day there was a wedding at Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. 2 Jesus also was invited to the wedding with his disciples. 3 When the wine ran out, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.” 4 And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what does this have to do with me? My hour has not yet come.” 5 His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”
6 Now there were six stone water jars there for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons.[a] 7 Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water.” And they filled them up to the brim. 8 And he said to them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the feast.” So they took it. 9 When the master of the feast tasted the water now become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the master of the feast called the bridegroom 10 and said to him, “Everyone serves the good wine first, and when people have drunk freely, then the poor wine. But you have kept the good wine until now.” 11 This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory. And his disciples believed in him.
12 After this he went down to Capernaum, with his mother and his brothers[b] and his disciples, and they stayed there for a few days.
Footnotes: a. John 2:6 Greek two or three measures (metrētas); a metrētēs was about 10 gallons or 35 liters b.John 2:12 Or brothers and sisters. The plural Greek word adelphoi (translated “brothers”) refers to siblings in a family. In New Testament usage, depending on the context, adelphoi may refer either to brothers or to brothers and sisters
This miracle performed by Jesus, who was conceived as the Son of God and baptized by the Holy Spirit. All three verses describe events which demonstrate the miraculous power of the Holy Spirit.
The Spirit enables Mary to conceive God’s Son; empower Jesus, who is also the Son of Man to resist testing and temptation from the devil, and enable Christ to transform ordinary water to wine.
This same Holy Spirit is sent by Jesus, who sits beside the Father in heaven, to transform common believers into Spirit-filled Apostles of the Lord. As is told in our final Scripture verse, Acts 2:1-13 (ESV):
The Coming of the Holy Spirit
2 When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. 2 And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. 3 And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested[a] on each one of them. 4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.
5 Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven. 6 And at this sound the multitude came together, and they were bewildered, because each one was hearing them speak in his own language. 7 And they were amazed and astonished, saying, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? 8 And how is it that we hear, each of us in his own native language? 9 Parthians and Medes and Elamites and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, 11 both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabians—we hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God.” 12 And all were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” 13 But others mocking said, “They are filled with new wine.”
Footnotes: a. Acts 2:3 Or And tongues as of fire appeared to them, distributed among them, and rested
In conclusion, the Holy Spirit enables both the Son of God and Believers in Christ to demonstrate His power and purpose to share the Word, which is the Gospel manifested through Christ Jesus.
God has come in human form, as Jesus, whose sacrifice provided the way for the Holy Spirit to come to all believers, so that we are empowered to prepare the way of the Lord, when all will be brought before the Father, at the time of Jesus’ return.
Let us pray…
Closing Hymn #350: Open My eyes, That I May See
Benediction – (Romans 15:13): May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.