Summary: Pentecost was the day the Holy Spirit came to indwell believers. This sermon examines Pentecost's meaning in the church and history, as well as what it means to believers personally.
What Pentecost Means to You and Me
June 8, 2014
TEXT: Acts 2:1-13 – “And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. 2 And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. 3 And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. 4 And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.
5 And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven. 6 Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language. 7 And they were all amazed and marvelled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galilaeans? 8 And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born? 9 Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judaea, and Cappadocia, in Pontus, and Asia, 10 Phrygia, and Pamphylia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes, 11 Cretes and Arabians, we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God. 12 And they were all amazed, and were in doubt, saying one to another, What meaneth this? 13 Others mocking said, These men are full of new wine.”
Christmas and Easter are the most well-known and celebrated events associated with Christianity.
Illus. – It would be rather odd if they weren’t part of the Christian calendar, wouldn’t it?
• What if December rolled around and there was no Christmas-eve service or Christmas pageant.
• Or what if there were no special Easter celebration service on Easter morn?
• Can you imagine going through December without hearing that there was no room at the inn for Jesus, or not hearing the stirring scripture when the angel tells the women at the tomb of Jesus, “Why seek ye the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen!”?
• Imagine a year with no poinsettias and no Easter lilies; no cradle and no empty cross.
• Imagine a year with no songs such as “Silent Night” or “Christ the Lord Is Risen Today.”
These are great events celebrated in the Christian calendar and rooted the church’s collective psyche because, if you think about it, Christianity is inexplicable without the truths Christmas and Easter commemorate: that God took on flesh and became a man so He could die for our sins and that He rose from the dead to conquer sin and give us new life—the incarnation and the resurrection. These are historical events that reveal God the Father’s and God the Son’s magnificent work in making redemption to mankind available to mankind.
So it is odd that we don’t celebrate Pentecost with the same kind of yearly homage and pageantry. Today happens to be Pentecost, and to be honest with you, I never have celebrated Pentecost, always considering it part of Roman Catholicism and the more ceremonial faith traditions.
It’s a happy coincidence that I just happen to be in Acts 2 in our study through the book of Acts, and it only occurred to me this week in preparation for this sermon how strange that Baptists and many in the evangelical tradition don’t commemorate Pentecost. Because of what happened on that day almost 2000 years ago is every bit as important as the birth and resurrection of Christ.
So although there will be no Pentecost pageants or Pentecost carols (and thank God, no Pentecost sales or Pentecost trees), and though you’ll never hear of a “Pentecost Bunny” or go on a Pentecost egg hunt, let me explain to you today what Pentecost means and why it is so important in the history of the church.
I. FIRST, WHAT WAS PENTECOST?
In Judaism, Pentecost was the Greek name (meaning “fifty”) for what is called in the Old Testament the Feast of Harvest or the Feast of Weeks. It was a major feast in the calendar of Israel celebrating the giving of the Law on Sinai, and was celebrated on the 50th day after the Passover; hence it’s Greek name of “fifty.”
The Old Testament Law stipulated that all adult Jewish men were to come from wherever they lived to Jerusalem and personally attend this festival celebration. So it was a pilgrim festival. This meant that Jews from all over the known world were in Jerusalem that day in Acts 2. So Pentecost was always a very important feast day for the Jews.