Summary: This message will explain the background and meaning of Pentecost.
Text: “When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place” (Acts 2:1).
Pentecost is one of the annual Jewish festivals and is held in Jerusalem. This is one of the three annual festivals or celebrations that all Jewish men were required to attend. The three festivals were: Passover; Pentecost, and Tabernacles.
Passover is celebrated to remind the Jewish people how God set them free from Egyptian slavery. The Passover feast consists of unleavened bread, bitter herbs and lamb. The unleavened bread reminds them of their hasty departure. They had no time to wait for the bread to rise.
The bitter herbs are a grim reminder of the suffering they endured under Egyptian rule while the lamb reminds them of how they were saved by the blood of the lamb. The homes that had the sacrificial blood of the lamb on the doorpost were “passed over”.
In Old Testament times, Pentecost was an agricultural celebration whereby thanks were given for the “first fruits” of the spring harvest. The Feast of Tabernacles was a celebration occurring at the end of the harvest season in the fall of the year.
Pentecost occurs seven weeks and one day after Easter Sunday or the seventh Sunday after Easter. If Easter is counted as the first day, then Pentecost is 50 days later.
After the suffering Jesus endured, the crucifixion, and the resurrection, He showed Himself to His disciples at various times over a forty day period.
Scripture tells us “He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God” (Acts 1:3).
Although Jesus spoke about the gift they would receive in the very near future, the disciples thought worldly and surmised He was going to restore the kingdom of Israel. The gift Jesus spoke of was the Counselor or Comforter that would forever be with them. He was speaking of the Holy Spirit.
John recorded these words spoken by Jesus: “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever – the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you” (John 14:16-17).
Jesus said to the disciples, “For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 1:5).
The disciples wanted Jesus to stay with them on earth, but they did not realize that had He done this, He could physically be in only one place at a time. You and I can be in only one place at a time. The disciples could be in only one place at a time. If the Gospel was to spread throughout the entire world to all mankind, something miraculous must take place.
This miraculous event was going to take place ten days after Jesus ascended into Heaven. This event would give the disciples power they had not known.
Jesus said, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8).
The power Jesus was talking about was much more than what the disciples could comprehend. It was not just the power of strength, but it was a power that would enable them to minister beyond their imagination.
This power would be in their heart and would give them insight, courage, self-assurance, certainty, permission, bravery and much more. This power would come from the Father, through the Son and would be in the Person of the Holy Spirit.
Scripture tells us: “After He said this, He was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight” (Acts 1:9).
Jesus was taken up to Heaven right before the very eyes of the disciples. The ascension had taken place and the disciples just stood their gazing up into the sky. The Ascension was planned just as it happened, at this specific time and at this place which was on The Mount of Olives. This event left no doubt or uncertainty in the minds of the disciples that Jesus was truly God and that He had to return to His home which was in Heaven.
Just imagine being there and watching this miraculous event unfold before your very eyes. What would you have thought? Would you have been sad? Would you have thought that all hope was lost? Would you have felt let down?
As the disciples stood there gazing up into the heavens, Scripture tells us that two men, really two angels, stood there and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven” (Acts 1:11).