Now when the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like a violent wind blowing came from heaven and filled the entire house where they were sitting. And tongues spreading out like a fire appeared to them and came to rest on each one of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit, and they began to speak in other languages as the Spirit enabled them.
Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven residing in Jerusalem. When this sound occurred, a crowd gathered and was in confusion, because each one heard them speaking in his own language.
Completely baffled, they said, “Aren’t all these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that each one of us hears them in our own native language? Parthians, Medes, Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and the province of Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabs—we hear them speaking in our own languages about the great deeds God has done!”
All were astounded and greatly confused, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” But others jeered at the speakers, saying, “They are drunk on new wine!”
But Peter stood up with the eleven, raised his voice, and addressed them: “You men of Judea and all you who live in Jerusalem, know this and listen carefully to what I say. In spite of what you think, these men are not drunk, for it is only nine o’clock in the morning. But this is what was spoken about through the prophet Joel:
‘And in the last days it will be,’ God says,
‘that I will pour out my Spirit on all people,
and your sons and your daughters will prophesy,
and your young men will see visions,
and your old men will dream dreams.
Even on my servants, both men and women,
I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy.
And I will perform wonders in the sky above
and miraculous signs on the earth below,
blood and fire and clouds of smoke.
The sun will be changed to darkness
and the moon to blood
before the great and glorious day of the Lord comes.
And then everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’ (New English Translation)
Tornadoes are powerful. So is fire. They both have an immense potential for awe and destruction. It’s interesting that when the little band of Christ’s followers experienced the Holy Spirit for the very first time, they likened what they encountered as wind and as fire.
There is power in the Spirit – for both life and in destruction. It is the Spirit of God who dismantles and rearranges lives to make something different or new altogether. Most certainly, when the Spirit gets involved, nothing is going to be the same again.
On the Day of Pentecost, the Spirit upset the status quo and formed a new band of believers into the community of the redeemed (the Church). The presence of God’s Holy Spirit brings energy, strength, and ability to spread the good news of Jesus, heal broken lives, and bring an egalitarian way of life that sees no distinction based on race, class, gender, or ethnicity.
The giving of the Spirit to the people of God is a whole lot more than a day set aside on a calendar, or a by-gone ancient thing that happened and has no significance for today. In fact, it is more than true to say that an authentic follower of Jesus Christ is a Pentecostal believer. The New Testament knows nothing of a Christian who isn’t given the Spirit to accomplish the will of God on this earth.
Therefore, this time of the year is hugely significant when we attune ourselves to Holy Time because it is the age of the Spirit, the time of Pentecostal life and power.
Ten days after recognizing Christ’s Ascension, and fifty days after our Lord’s resurrection from death, the Christian Calendar observes the day of Pentecost (which literally means “fifty” in Greek). The day coincides with an established Jewish festival, the Feast of Weeks. Back in the day, Jerusalem would be filled with all kinds of different nationalities and ethnicities during the festival.
Pentecost is often known as the birthday of the Church. It marks the time when the Holy Spirit came upon the fledgling believers in power. The disciple Peter, once a flaky up-and-down follower, was filled with the Spirit and spoke the Word of God boldly. His bold proclamation of repentance and faith in Jesus led directly to three-thousand persons added to the little band of one-hundred twenty.
And it didn’t stop there.
We live in an age where all believers in Jesus have the same Holy Spirit as our spiritual ancestors did. It’s an era of spiritual empowerment. The Church is called to reach the world with good news of forgiveness and grace through the person and work of Christ.
So, then, the Church possesses confidence and security in knowing that the Spirit’s enablement and power is available for mission and spiritual care to the nations. It’s an immense calling that befits the bigness of God.
There are a wide range of Christian celebrations of Pentecost. Some churches do not recognize the holiday at all. Most churches at least mention it in prayer, song, or sermon. Other churches go all out, with worship focused on remembering the first Pentecost and praying for a similar outpouring of divine power. Churches that employ liturgical colors generally use red on Pentecost as a symbol of fiery spiritual power.
Pentecost reminds us that Christians are meant to live in the presence and power of the Holy Spirit, all the time. This day is a chance to confess our shortcomings and failures because of fear, apathy, and selfishness; and to ask for a fresh infusing and infilling of God’s wonderful Spirit.
The Day of Pentecost flings every single believer into a congregational whole, the Church, and lets us know that we are not to be rugged individualists acting alone but are part of the Body of Christ. Therefore, we must renew our commitment to the Church for whom Christ died.
The Spirit is ready to use us in forging spiritual bonds of kinship and solidarity. Pentecost throws disparate people together in a unified whole, made up of every kind of language, nationality, ethnicity, gender, and race. We are all to use the gifts of the Spirit given to us for the benefit of building up one another.
We exist because of the Holy Spirit. Without the Spirit, there is no power source because the Spirit is the battery, the generator of the Christian life. We are to do all life and ministry through the power of the Spirit, equipping and encouraging each other, displaying the fruit of the Spirit, and worshiping the person of the Spirit in always being present with us.
Pentecost was (and is!) a watershed event. Worship, community, and outreach are the logical and collective responsibilities of each believer and every church around the globe.
Let us, then, recognize Pentecost and observe this day with heartfelt thanksgiving and a renewed impulse to exercise our spiritual abilities – graciously given to us by the Holy Spirit. Amen.