This week the Christian church celebrates Pentecost. Pentecost is a Jewish holiday 50 days after Passover (the day when Jesus crucified), where they celebrate the “Feast of Pentecost” . So Pentecost takes place 7 weeks – 50 days – after Easter. The celebration this year (2020) falls on the 31st May.
The Jewish men were all required by Jewish law to be in Jerusalem to celebrate this festival, so the town was packed with visitors this weekend in history. The Jewish men came from every nation under heaven: Cappadocia, Pontus, Asia, Egypt, Libya, Rome, Judea, Arabia to name a few. This is important to give you an idea of the setting at the time.
The believers and disciples were in Jerusalem, after they had watched Jesus ascend to heaven.
So, what is Pentecost?
Pentecost is when the Christian church celebrates the day the Holy Spirit came to earth to dwell amongst the believers. In Acts chapters 1-2, there were about 120 followers of Jesus gathered in prayer in an upper room of Jerusalem, having recently seen Jesus depart and return to his Father in heaven. While the believers were gathered, the Holy Spirit came upon them with a presence of flames, or tongues, of fire above their heads and the sound of a violent wind. These symbols represent the church being given special power by God.
Were the people really on fire?
No, the heads of people weren’t on fire. It was the best way the author could describe what he was seeing – remember at this point in time, nobody had seen anything like this before, so he was describing something that had never been seen before.
What power did they get?
Initially, the believers all started speaking in different languages. With all the Jews in town, this proved to be helpful, because suddenly all the believers could speak to the visitors in their own language. That certainly got the attention of the Jews.
As well as that, the believers also got the holy spirit to help them on a permanent basis. The holy spirit was now with them to help them wherever they went ministering to other people.
What is the significance of Pentecost?
This event of Pentecost in Jerusalem signified the beginning of the Christian church as we know it. It was a day when the work of God and Christianity expanded beyond the people of Israel to all believers, wherever and whatever their ethnicity or nationality. On this day, with the help of the holy spirit, Peter gave a sermon on the mount that saw over 3000 people become new followers of Jesus.
Back up a moment – who is the holy spirit?
The Holy Spirit is the third person of the trinity. If you tuned in a few weeks ago, we had Andrew give a brief overview of the Trinity – if you missed it, catch it on our youtube channel. The holy spirit was there from the beginning, He is not a ghost or a force, but a part of the trinity who helps all believers in their daily lives.
Why is Pentecost important?
Celebrating Pentecost acts as a reminder about the Holy Spirit. Often the Holy Spirit is the forgotten person of the trinity, however the Holy Spirit is a very important member, one we need to take time to get to know. Pentecost reminds us of the power of the holy Spirit. Pentecost gives us hope. At a time the disciples were discouraged, the Holy spirit came in power, bringing encouragement and hope. Things happened – people were converted, new languages were spoken instantly, the church grew. We have the same Holy Spirit with us today.
As believers, the day of Pentecost reminds us of the great commission and encourages us in our life here on earth.