Summary: Pentecost is more than just the historical birthday for the church; it is the source of joy, presence, and power for us today.
PENTECOST: PROMISES KEPT!
Acts 1:1-8, 2:1-47
Big idea: Pentecost is more than just the historical birthday for the church; it is the source of joy, presence, and power for us today.
Today is “Pentecost Sunday.”
In the Old Testament, Pentecost ("the Fiftieth [day]") is a prominent feast celebrating the giving of the Law on Sinai. It was celebrated 50 days after Passover and is known as “The Festival of Weeks.”
In the New Testament, it was at Pentecost (50 days after Jesus’ resurrection) that the Holy Spirit descended upon the followers of Christ. This, of course, is more than coincidence. Giving the Holy Spirit to indwell His people is a sign from God that there has been a clear break – a fulfillment / completion of the old covenant and the beginning of a new covenant (relationship) with his people. The Spirit’s descent is a sign that Jesus’ work was satisfactory and that we are not obligated or expected to honor the old covenant any longer. It has served its purpose – it is completed and in the past. The New Testament writers make this clear.
• John’s Gospel says, “For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.” (Gospel of John 1:17)
• Paul says, “You are not under law, but under grace.” (Romans 6:14)
• Peter’s sermon on Pentecost proclaims that God has poured Himself out of all flesh – men and women, and that Jesus is the promised messiah. He tells his listeners that they are witnessing the beginning of the messianic age!
• It is Luke who gives us the account of Pentecost (Acts 1-2) and there is much in this event that looks back to the Old Testament.
The very decent of the life-giving Spirit (the word “Spirit” means literally “breath” or “wind”) may itself be a allusion to God breathing life into us at creation. It is, after all, through the Spirit that we are born again and made new creations.
The tongues of fire may be an allusion to the burning bush experience of Moses where he was called, equipped and commissioned.
The many foreign languages spoken that day may be a hint that God is indeed going to fulfill His promise to make his people “priests to the nations.”
Since the earliest days Pentecost has been described as the “Birthday of the Church.” Pentecost, you see, is a shift in relationship. It’s a big deal – it makes everything different. The church has always taken time in worship to reflect upon the Pentecost’s gift of the Spirit. Sermons, prayers, readings, even some composers have helped us understand its importance. Composers like Johann Sebastian Bach, for example, have composed several works specifically for the celebration of Pentecost.
Something new and wonderful happened in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost didn’t it? Cowardly men were transformed into articulate men of conviction, purpose, courage, and power. They were enabled to proclaim the Gospel and expand the church rapidly once the Spirit came. In just a few decades Jesus’ Church could be found in every major city in the Roman Empire.