Summary: A look at the events on the first Pentecost
I wonder what they were thinking about on that day? Had they gathered together to celebrate the holidays or were they making plans for the future? We don’t know where they were, why they were there or even how many of them there were. But we do know that what happened on that day changed history and ultimately changed the world.
It had been seven weeks since the carpenter from Nazareth had been crucified. A lot of things had happened since the day the Romans had nailed Jesus of Nazareth to a crude cross and hung him on Golgotha to die. Probably the greatest thing that happened was that Jesus had been raised from the dead. Three days after he was placed in a borrowed tomb it was empty. Three days after the apostles had given up hope; hope had been given back to them. Three days after the devil had tasted victory he saw defeat. Three days after the religious leaders had celebrated his death they had to cope with his resurrection.
During the time after his resurrection Christ had appeared to his apostles both individually and collectively. He had made them breakfast on the beach at Galilee and gave them the great commission on top of a mountain. He had promised them that the Holy Spirit would come, appeared to a crowd of five hundred and then ascended into heaven in front of his followers.
Ten days after Christ had left they found themselves in a room in Jerusalem doing just what Christ had commanded them to do they were waiting. It is interesting to note that even at this point they had a pretty firm grasp about how to play church; they were busy with administrative functions. Nobody was saved but they did have the opportunity to vote Matthias in as an Apostle. It’s amazing that even today churches have captured that ability to look busy while basically not doing anything. Every year at our conference there are churches that report that haven’t seen a single person come to a saving relationship with Jesus Christ but they continued to function as bureaucratic entities, forming boards, electing people to fill roles, filing reports doing all the things which would ensure that they would continue to exist.
And so here they are, gathered together to celebrate Pentecost. Acts 2:1 On the day of Pentecost, seven weeks after Jesus’ resurrection, the believers were meeting together in one place.
Pentecost is a New Testament name for an Old Testament festival. When most of us think of Pentecost we think of Christianity, but as is the case with most of Christianity the true beginnings of Pentecost are rooted in Judaism. The word comes from the root word for fifty and literally is fifty days after Passover. Sometimes it is referred to as the feast of weeks or the week of weeks, because seven weeks is 49 days and the next day is Pentecost.
Historically the Pentecost celebration commemorated the giving of the law to Moses and also had agricultural significance. In recognition of that the crops first Omar or two quarts, or 1.89 litres of barley were brought to the altar as an offering along with two loaves of barley bread.
Pentecost was a day of celebration. Servant labour was prohibited and so it was a holiday for all. Presumably the believers had made their sacrifices, remember they were all good Jews, and know they were together, whether they were in anxious anticipation over whether or not this would be the day that the Holy Spirit would come or if they were just sitting around enjoying each other’s company we’ll never know this side of eternity, all we know is that they were together in on place.
I had said earlier that we didn’t know who was in the room who the they were that were mentioned in this first verse and we don’t know for sure but we can make some guesses. Acts 1:13 tells us that ten days earlier right after Christ had ascended Peter, John, James and Andrew; Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew; James son of Alphaeus and Simon the zealot, and Judas son of James, got together in Jerusalem. Luke tells us that they were with the women, who are the women? Well several are mentioned in Jesus life they include Mary the wife of Clopas, Mary Magdalene, Martha and Salome the mother of James and John.
As well Luke tells us that Jesus mother and brothers were there so that’s Mary, Jude, James the two new candidates for apostleship were there so that would are Matthias and Joseph called Barabbas (also known as Justus). Maybe Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus would have been there, Luke’s giving us the account and so that would leave 97 of the original 120 who we don’t know their names. It was Groucho Marx who said “Although it is generally known, I think it’s about time to announce that I was born at a very early age.” And the church was born at a very early age as well and this was to be it’s birthday.