On June 12th, many Christian Churches in the Columbia and other areas of the world will celebrate Pentecost Sunday by having many sermons on how the Holy Spirit descended on the disciples of Jesus causing them to speak in many unlearned foreign languages. There will also be sermons about how thousands of people were converted to salvation through Jesus after the powerful sermon of the Apostle Peter.
In the midst of this celebration, how many Christians know the background or full meaning of what Acts 2:1 means when it says that when the Day of Pentecost was fully come the disciples of Jesus were gathered together in one place?
In order to fully understand the meaning of that verse and the celebration of Pentecost, we must look at its Biblical background. What the Christian Church now calls Pentecost Sunday was originally the celebration of the Biblical Feast of Pentecost (also called The Feast of Weeks or in Hebrew called Shavuot) as commanded in Leviticus 23:15-21. The name Pentecost comes from the fact that it happens 50 days after the Feast of Passover.
As commanded in Deuteronomy 16:16, this is one of the three mandatory pilgrimage feasts, which meant that all Jewish men were required to come to the Temple in Jerusalem to celebrate it. Since the disciples of Jesus were good Jewish men, they were sitting together in the Temple to celebrate this feast.
Even though they had gone through many yearly cycles of celebrating the Feast of Passover and then celebrating the Feast of Pentecost fifty days later, this year’s cycle was greatly different for two main reasons. The first reason was their world was turned upside down during Passover as they saw Jesus, their Master, betrayed, arrested, put on trial, crucified and buried in Joseph’s tomb.
Although Jesus has repeatedly told them that those events were going to happen, they didn’t understand the meaning of what He was telling them. Consequently, when those events happened, their days and nights were filled with the fear that they might also be arrested and crucified. Those fears gradually went away after He rose from the dead, appeared to them, and explained the meaning of why those events occurred.
Acts 1:3 says that Jesus appeared “to them over a period of forty days, and [was] speaking of the things concerning the kingdom of God.” In His last message to them, He commanded them not to leave Jerusalem until they received the Promise of the Father, which was the power of the Holy Spirit to help them fulfill His great commission of going to the remotest parts of the earth (Acts:1:8) as they made “disciples of all nations . . . teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I commanded you,” (Matthew 28:19)
After Jesus told His disciples those things, He ascended into Heaven. (Luke 24:50-51, Acts 1:9) Acts 1:12 says that after Jesus’ ascension, the disciples returned to Jerusalem and devoted themselves to prayer.
The second reason why that Feast of Pentecost was different than earlier feasts was because what happened during the worship service transformed their lives and changed the world they travelled into.
During the worship service some Scripture passages were read ending with Ezekiel 3:12: “Then the Spirit lifted me up, and I heard a great rumbling sound behind me, ‘Blessed be the glory of the LORD in His place.’”
“And suddenly there came from heaven a noise like a violent rushing wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting . . . And they were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit was giving them utterance.” (Acts 2:2, 4 NASB)
As the disciples of Jesus were filled with the power of the Holy Spirit, they were transformed. Formerly timid Peter stood up and delivered a brillant sermon that so convicted three thousand people of the need to get right with God that they asked God to forgive them for breaking His laws and received Jesus Christ as their personal Savior.
There are many other places in the book of Acts which show the results of the disciples being transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit—they delivered powerful sermons and worked many miracles which converted many people to a salvation experience with Jesus Christ.
As they did these things, the Christian Church grew rapidly. Since this growth started after the coming of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost, it is considered the birthday of the Christian Church.
However great the coming of the Holy Spirit was to transform the lives of the early disciples, it wasn’t meant to be just for that time. Instead, the Holy Spirit has been active throughout history and is active in our modern times. This means that modern Christians can have the power of the Holy Spirit transform their lives just as much as it happened in the beginning of the Christian Church!
If Christians want this transforming power, they can prayerfully ask God to send it to them. Even though it sometimes takes a while for this to happen, wait for it. Then, the sweet wonderful feeling of the Holy Spirit comes into people’s spiritual nature and makes it come alive with the presence of God.
As people experience God’s presence, God can do many things for them ranging from spiritual, psychological, and even physical healing to revealing some things that God either has for them or wants them to do.
Therefore, this Pentecost Sunday, as Christians celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit and the birthday of the Christian Church; let each Christian receive or renew the power of the Holy Spirit in their lives to transform them so they can spread God’s love and principles for living throughout their area and possibly the world.