If it weren’t for Pentecost, we wouldn’t know about Easter. For most today isn’t flagged on our calendars as Pentecost Sunday. But it is a big deal for Christians, and there are at least three reasons why it’s a day worth celebrating.
Daniel 7:13–14. (Some 600 years before Jesus, exiled into Babylon) I saw in the night visions and behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a son of man and He came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before Him. And to Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him; His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed.
Watching Jesus ascend to heaven Acts 1:11, the disciples must have felt an immediate sense of loss. But Jesus steadied them with an important promise: “John baptised with water but you will be baptised with the Holy Spirit not many days from now”Acts 1:5
Luke tells us that when the disciples were gathered on the day of Pentecost…suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance. Acts 2:2–4
According to Luke, Jews from every tribe under heaven were gathered in Jerusalem to celebrate Pentecost.
As they marvelled, Peter explained the miracle as the fulfilment of God’s word:
This is what was uttered through the prophet Joel: “And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams; even on my male servants and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit, and they shall prophesy.Acts 2:16–18
Peter goes on to proclaim that what has happened in their hearing is the validation of the Lordship of Jesus the Messiah and the realisation of the promises of God.
1.Pentecost fulfils Jesus’s Promise to Never Forsake His Own.
As painful as the parting at the ascension might have been, Jesus assured the disciples that it was to their advantage that He would go away. “for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. . . . When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.” John 16:7, 13–14
The fulfilment of the promise of Jesus, was the outpouring of the gift of the Holy Spirit on the disciples an, as Peter proclaimed, on all of God’s people in this new era Acts 2:38
2.Pentecost Launches the Global Proclamation of the Gospel.
Jesus’s death at Passover and His death defying resurrection three days later, signalled the ‘first fruit’ of God’s victory over sin and death 1 Corinthians 15:20–24.
Jesus had done (destroyed) and accomplished (delivered) everything necessary for the gospel to run and triumph Hebrews 2:14–15; cf. Revelation 20:1–3 and the outpouring of the Spirit at Pentecost signals that the greater harvest has begun.
The three thousand souls added to the church on that special Pentecost came from all corners of the then known Roman world. They, in turn, would carry the gospel to their families and communities. The narrative path of Acts follows the Spirit-indwelt disciples as they carry the gospel from Jerusalem to the ends of the earth Acts 1:8.
We heard about Easter because of Pentecost. The fields are white with harvest and, as part of the church of the risen Christ, we too can ‘go, therefore, and make disciples’ Matthew 28:18
A paradigm shift in church culture I believe caused by the pandemic, is a move from ‘come and see’ to ‘send and go’.
3.Pentecost Signals the Coming of Fuller Restoration and a Greater Celebration.
At Pentecost, Peter proclaims that the prophecy of Joel 2:28–31has come to pass.
Interestingly, this prophecy of the end time gift of the Spirit comes immediately after another striking promise from God in Joel 2:25–27: I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten, the hopper, the destroyer, and the cutter, my great army, which I sent among you. You shall eat in plenty and be satisfied, and praise the name of the Lᴏʀᴅ your God, who has dealt wondrously with you. And my people shall never again be put to shame. You shall know that I am in the midst of Israel, and that I am the Lᴏʀᴅ your God and there is none else. And my people shall never again be put to shame.
While Jesus’s reign is secure and eternal, it has yet to come to its fullest expression on the earth.
While death has been undeniably defeated, it has yet to be put to a final end 1 Corinthians 15:24–26.
The apostle Paul reminds us that creation longs for its final restoration and that even we ourselves, who “have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies” Romans 8:23
Pentecost is a pointer that history is relentlessly and inescapably moving towards the restoration of all things.
The Bridegroom (Jesus) has come; His bride (The Church) is making herself ready. We await the greatest celebration of all.
Pentecost reminds us that Jesus is coming again not in meekness but in splendour, not in humility but power, not as a baby but as a King to claim His spotless Bride.
What a celebration that will be.