Summary: Pentecost was a dramatic display of God's power and Spirit. Why did Jesus pick Pentecost to begin His church and what can that mean to us?
OPEN: In the land of Norway there is a valley. This valley is long and narrow with mountainous peaks that tower 1000s of feet into the air, and nestled deep inside that valley is a little town whose name I’m not sure I can pronounce. This village has existed for over 100 years and it is a beautiful little town begun known for its scenic cable car and nearby winter sports (Rjukan was originally founded as a company town for Norsk Hydro, which set up a fertilizer plant here to utilize the hydro power from the nearby 104 meter Rjukanfossen waterfall).
It’s a great little village, but they have one small problem. Because the walls of the mountains rise so high above them, from September through March the sun is blotted out and the city is in shadow for over half the year. Despite its beauty, this lovely village has been a very dark and dismal place to live.
And that’s way it was… until about 4 years ago when they found a way to pipe sunlight down into the valley. They raised $850,000 and built 3 huge state-of-the-art mirrors to reflect the sun’s rays down into the village square and illuminate about 2000 square feet of the town. The computer-powered mirrors shift every 10 seconds to track the movements of the sun during the day and reflect the light to the village. It took a lot of energy and a lot of effort to pipe sunlight down into that very dark and dismal land.
And about 2000 years ago, God spent a lot of energy and a lot of effort to bring the LIGHT OF LIFE down into a dark and dismal land. And it all happened on a day we call the Day of Pentecost.
The day of Pentecost was a powerful day. We read about the sound of a mighty rushing wind, of tongues of fire, and of the Apostles being able to speak in tongues so that everybody who was there (from various surrounding nations/languages) could hear the disciples tell of the wondrous power of God. What we’re seeing in Acts 2 is the fireworks of God. This was God getting the attention of the crowds and drawing them in so that they could hear the message that would bring the LIGHT OF LIFE into their lives.
God does that a lot in Scripture. Whenever God wants to get people’s attention, over and over again, He does something dramatic and eye-catching. When God wanted to get Pharaoh’s attention… He set off fireworks. God did things in Egypt that they’d never seen before because God had a message for Pharaoh and He wanted his attention.
When God brought the Israelites to the Mountain to receive the 10 Commandments He set off fireworks to get their attention. There was lightning, fire, smoke, a loud trumpet and voice of God thundering down the 10 Commandments. It was so scary the people huddled in fear. But they got the message.
There was the day God flooded the earth. The day He confused the languages at the Tower of Babel. The day the walls of Jericho came a tumbling down. The day Daniel was in the Lion’s Den. The day Elijah called down fire from the sky to burn up his offering. And on, and on, and on.
God has a flair for the dramatic; He seems to love the theatrical; He loves fireworks…because it gets our attention. And that’s what God was doing at Pentecost. He had something He wanted people to see. Something He wanted them to understand. And he was shooting off fireworks to get their attention.
(pause) But what was it He wanted them to see? What was it He wanted them to understand?
Well, 1st – God wanted them to see that He’d had this planned all along. You see – God could have picked any old day to do what He did here but He picked Pentecost as the day to start His church.
WHY? One reason was, that by picking that day, God was guaranteed to have a HUGE crowd. Pentecost was one of the 3 great festivals in Judaism where God’s people were required to make a pilgrimage to Jerusalem (Passover and the Feast of Tabernacles were the other two). It was commanded in the Law. People HAD to show up… they didn’t have a choice! So God was gonna have a big crowd.
2ndly – God chose Pentecost because it had always been God’s plan to use this date to kick off His church. In Scripture Pentecost went by several different names:
• Pentecost (of course)
• The Feast Of Harvest (Exodus 23:16)
• And THE DAY OF FIRST FRUITS (Numbers 28:26)