Pentecost* took place on the well-established Jewish festival of First Fruits, which was observed at the beginning of the wheat harvest. It was seven weeks after Easter, or fifty days including Easter.
A feast day to celebrate the country’s wheat harvest does not sound exactly world-changing, but that year, it became one of the most important days in world history. For Pentecost was the day that Jesus sent the Holy Spirit – the day the Church was born.
Jesus had told His disciples that something big was going to happen, and that they were to wait for it in Jerusalem, instead of returning to Galilee. Jesus had plans for His disciples, but He knew they could not do the work themselves. They would need His help.
And so, they waited in Jerusalem, praying together with His other followers, for many days. And then on that fateful morning there was suddenly the sound as of a mighty rushing wind. Tongues of flame flickered on their heads, and they began to praise God in many tongues, to the astonishment of those who heard them. The curse of Babel (Genesis 11: 1-9) was dramatically reversed that morning.
That morning the Holy Spirit came to indwell the disciples and followers of Jesus. The Church was born. The Christians were suddenly full of life and power, utterly different from their former fearful selves. The change in them was permanent.
Peter gave the first ever sermon of the Christian Church that morning, proclaiming Jesus was the Messiah. His boldness in the face of possible death was in marked contrast to the man who had denied Jesus 50 days before. And 3,000 people responded, were converted, and were baptised. How’s that for fast church growth!
Of course, Pentecost was not the first time the Holy Spirit had acted in this world. All through the Old Testament there are accounts of how God’s Spirit guided people and strengthened them. But now, because of Christ’s death and resurrection, He could INDWELL them. From now on, every Christian could have the confidence that Jesus was with them constantly, through the indwelling of His Holy Spirit.
*Pentecost falls on the seventh Sunday after Easter. It commemorates the descent of the Holy Spirit upon Christ’s disciples.
The featured image for this post is “Pentecost descent of the Holy Ghost as a dove (f. 151) Cropped”, WikiCommons (P.D.).