PENTECOST— THE DAY THAT WILL CHANGE FOREVER
According to the Christian calendar, today is Pentecost Sunday, a day where Christians all over the world for more than two thousand years have celebrated the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on God’s people. However, when people hear the word “Pentecost” these days they tend to think more about a particular denomination.
A denomination alone though is not what Christians should associate primarily with Pentecost and its ongoing significance. Pentecost is a momentous event for everyone who confesses the name of Christ. Nothing more important has happened since then. No world wars, no technological inventions, no sporting events, nothing.
A NEW DAWN
Pentecost comes from the Greek word Pentekostos, which means “50.” It’s the 50th day after the Sabbath of Passover week.
Acts 2:1-4 records: “When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.”
Many see the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the disciples of Jesus on the first Pentecost as the birth of the Church. Before His ascension, Jesus instructed His disciples not to leave Jerusalem but to wait for “the gift my Father promised.” He added that they would receive power and be His witnesses in all Judea and Samaria and to the ends of the world when the Holy Spirit came on them (Acts 1:4, 8). This came true on the day of Pentecost.
What happened on the first Pentecost carries on today. Whoever puts his or her faith in Jesus Christ receives the Holy Spirit, though not necessarily in the same way as it happened in the first century when many visible signs followed.
It is through the Spirit that one can appropriate God’s promises in Jesus by accepting Him as Lord and Saviour. As Peter said on the day of the Pentecost, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off – for all whom the Lord our God will call.” (Acts 2:38, 39)
PART SOMETHING BIGGER
Each time a sinner once dead in sin is born again, another soul joins the party—a party that began with 120 people, quickly expanded to 3,000, and later swelled to billions and counting. Any political or social movement desperately falls short in comparison.
What’s more, Pentecost reflected a key mission of the Church. By enabling the disciples to declare God’s wonders in various languages, the Holy Spirit showed that the Church needs to reach out to various cultural, racial, ethnic and linguistic groups rather than become an affinity group. It taught the Church to honour diversity.
Because of Pentecost, we defy and transcend whatever identities and labels our present world might try to shackle us with and seek to confine us to.
There is one Pentecost, for in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body. Nothing can provide a greater source of unity and identity.
Pentecost has changed history and made the “after” like nothing “before.”