As I reflect on Pentecost, I can’t help but think about the way the disciples were transformed from the time of Jesus death to the time of Pentecost when the Spirit of God breathed his new life into them. Peter learned to put away his sword, because he learned that Christ is worth dying for but not worth killing for. In Christ, hate is the same as murder and enemies are to be overcome with love. This is a hard teaching but make no mistake about it, it is the core of the gospel.
Pentecost is a story of Christ followers proclaiming in the public square to all who would listen, that kingdoms of the world are not Lord any longer. Pentecost shows us that Jesus is Lord and no one else. The disciples started proclaiming this boldly at Pentecost, even to the government. If it were happening today we would have to tell Kim Jong II that he is not Lord (emperor), for that title was won on the cross. We’d have to let Barack Obama and the lawmakers know that they aren’t in charge, but Jesus is, and his followers will not bow to them any longer. Somebody would have to ring the bell and tell all the warring tribes in Africa that Jesus, who was crucified, is calling them back into their humanity and to lay their weapons down.
Pentecost tells the world that Jesus is Lord and no one else. “Lord” is a political title, not a just spiritual one. It was the title of Caesar, and it could be translated as king, emperor, president, prime minister, etc. The boldness of Pentecost helps believers to say to all the nations and peoples of the world, Jesus is Lord and you are not. We won’t play by your rules anymore.
The message of Pentecost may get us killed, in fact, it got Jesus and all His disciples killed, but guess what, death is not Lord either. What’s the worst they can do, kill us? Yep, that’s the worst they can do, and that isn’t final, because death also is a defeated foe.
So guess what Africa, Europe, Asia, North America, Australia, South America, and Antarctica, none of you are Lord. Listen up world, for none of the 193 countries you contain are Lord. In fact, on Christ’s map of the world, your dividing lines don’t even exist. In Christ, the only Kingdom in existence is the Kingdom of God. Not only are you not Lord, you are non-existent.
To use the words of the Apostle Paul on the day of Pentecost, “Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord (Emperor, King, President, Prime Minister…) and Messiah.” (Acts 2:36). Countries of the world, we will love and respect the dignity and humanity of your citizens, but we give our allegiance to none but Christ. Sorry flag, I can’t pledge to you anymore, for Jesus has my allegiance.
It’s Pentecost, and we proclaim boldly that Jesus is Lord. We aren’t just celebrating the birth of the church, we are celebrating the fact that in Christ all the nations of the world have been brought together as one, reversing Babel, and we all proclaim together as one, in our own native tongues, يسوع هو الرب, Исус е Лорд, 耶稣是主, Ježíš je Pán, Ο Ιησούς είναι ο Λόρδος, यीशु प्रभु है, Jesus is Lord.
This is the power of Pentecost unleashed on the world. Jesus is Lord! God, give us boldness to proclaim this message as the first believers did, empowered by the Spirit, on that first Pentecost so long ago. The walls are gone, the nations are one, and Jesus is Lord. Come be baptized and join the fellowship that unites all mankind. Man, woman, Jew, Gentile, Slave, Free, American, Korean, Gay, Straight, Red, Yellow, Black, and White. You are all called to a new humanity, a new identity, and a new citizenship.
It’s Pentecost Sunday, let’s celebrate our new birth. Jesus Is Lord.