What is Pentecost?
The backstory: a few thousand years ago, God's people Israel were slaves in Egypt...
God rescued his people from slavery and death by killing off the Egyptians firstborn — but any Israelite who put the blood of a spotless lamb on their doorpost was saved and the angel of death "passed over" them & they were saved.
In remembrance the Jews practice the Passover Festival which is at the start of the grain harvest.
It is no coincidence that Jesus is killed during the time of Passover. He is the ultimate spotless lamb that dies as a substitute and through the shedding of his blood we are rescued from slavery to our sin and death.
Seven weeks after Passover was the "Feast of Weeks." This was when the first of the harvest occurred. Barley loaves were offered as gifts to God in harvest thanksgiving. The Israelites celebrated how God provided and rejoiced in the new life of harvest time.
"Feast of Weeks" became known as "Pentecost" which is a Greek word meaning 50th, since it was 50 days after Passover. Thousands of visitors would travel to Jerusalem for Passover and Pentecost/Feast of Weeks.
What Christians remember and celebrate today is the coming of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost — 50 days after Easter. Jews were gathering for Pentecost for the Feast of Weeks in Jerusalem, and God the Father & Son sent the Holy Spirit to fill and empower Jesus' followers. This is recorded in the book of Acts within the Bible.
The Old Testament prophet, Joel, foretold of a day to come when God would pour out of his Spirit on all his people. Jesus told his disciples that he was going to give them his Spirit and they would receive power to show and share Jesus with the world! This occurred on that first Pentecost.
For Christians, Pentecost is a celebration of the coming of the Holy Spirit. Seven weeks after Easter is when we celebrate.
Our church is a part of the Pentecostal Assemblies, which gets its name from Pentecost. As Jesus-followers, we recognize that we don't have the power to change our hearts or to live in the way Jesus calls us to. We rely on God's Holy Spirit that lives within us, empowering us, and changing us!
Here are some related scriptures to remind us of the truth of God's desire to fill us with his Spirit and bring new life to us and through us.
Luke 3:16 (ESV) John [the baptist] answered them all, saying, “I baptize you with water, but he who is mightier than I is coming, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.
Acts 1:8–9 (ESV) [Jesus said] But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight.
Acts 2:1–8 (ESV) When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. And 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. Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven. And at this sound the multitude came together, and they were bewildered, because each one was hearing them speak in his own language. And they were amazed and astonished, saying, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each of us in his own native language?
Acts 2:38–42 (ESV) And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.” And with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them, saying, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation.” So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls. And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.
Spirit of life, fill our emptiness with your fullness.
Spirit of power, stir our hearts afresh.
Spirit of love, touch us, and through us, our neighbour.
Spirit of creativity, enable and empower the gifts you have given.
Spirit of eternity, draw us ever deeper into your Kingdom.
In Jesus' name, Amen.