This Sunday, Christians around the world will celebrate the day of Pentecost; a word for many that sounds kind of familiar but isn’t always understood, especially outside of denominational or liturgical churches.
Fifty days after Jesus Christ had been resurrected (also called Easter Sunday) the disciples gathered in Jerusalem for the Jewish Feast of Weeks or Shavu’ot. This important feast commemorates the revelation of the Torah on Mt. Sinai to the Jewish people. The scene is captured for us in the second chapter of the book of Acts:
1When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. 2 Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. 4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.
Today, this is known as the day of Pentecost. (Pentecost is derived from the Greek word for 50th day and is traditionally celebrated on the 7th Sunday after Easter.)
What an entrance the Holy Spirit made! My Bible’s commentators suggest that “the Sprit’s appearance at Pentecost was tumultuous – the sound of rushing wind, the appearance of flames of fire, a cacophony of languages being spoken at once; what must have, at first, sounded like shouting and confusion. But it wasn’t show over substance. The effects were dramatic because they represented the birth of Jesus’ church and the inauguration of the mystery by which Jews and Gentiles would be brought together in one body around Jesus the Messiah.”
If we want to be accurate, we’ll recognize that Christianity didn’t begin with Jesus’ birth, or even his death. It can be argued that it wasn’t even with His baptism or ascension into heaven.
It started with Pentecost; the day the Holy Spirit descended upon the room where Jesus’ disciples were meeting and entered into each of them, allowing them direct access to God and to share His Word among all nations.
Visitors from ‘every God-fearing nation under heaven’ heard them declaring the wonders of God in their own languages and asked one another, ‘what does this mean?’ (Acts 2: 5-12)
During His Last Supper, Jesus promised the Holy Spirit to His disciples. As recorded in John 14, 15 “If you love me, keep my commands. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— 17 the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be[c] in you. 18 I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. 19 Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live.20 On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. 21 Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.”
This signaled (indeed, heralded) a major shift in the religious landscape and laid the foundation for what, today is known throughout the world as Christianity. In verse 25, Jesus continues, 25 “All this I have spoken while still with you. 26 But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. 27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
28 “You heard me say, ‘I am going away and I am coming back to you.’ If you loved me, you would be glad that I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. 29 I have told you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe.
Writers of a devotional I am reading this week on the day of Pentecost put it this way: “What must it have been like to have walked with and studied directly under Jesus’ teaching? What an experience that would have been, to witness first-hand the glory and wonder of Christ in the flesh – to hear His voice, see His face and feel His touch. It’s this thought that makes what Jesus said in these passages even more remarkable, “it is for your good that I am going away…”
What could be better than Christ with us?
There’s only one thing better, and that’s Christ within us through the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Christ.
The fact is, Jesus never intended for us to try to do our Christian journey alone or in our own strength.
Yet many of us live our lives struggling and striving, often with the best intent, to follow God by the flesh, when this whole time Jesus has provided a new way to live by his Spirit.”
Friends, it is my prayer that each of us will invite God to examine our hearts and minds so that we might begin to better recognize the power of His Holy Spirit working in our lives; that we might better listen for His callings and respond more fervently to His nudges and direction; that we may truly begin to follow Him in The Way Everlasting; to His honor and glory for The Kingdom. Amen
Right here with you,