1 When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. 2 And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. 3 And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them.
4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance. (ESV)
The climax of the ministry of our Lord Jesus Christ was the gift to the Church of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost.
The signs were not the Holy Spirit itself – it was the heralds that announced His arrival.
The true meaning of Pentecost:
- The Glory of the Lord was revealed in Jerusalem
God saying that He came down in His glory and grace to redeem His people from their sin. It happened to ordinary people – an insignificant band who failed our Lord during the last few weeks of His life on earth. Through Pentecost His disciples showed that “not by power, not by might, but by His Spirit says the Lord.”
- It was the Climax of the Ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ
John the Baptist proclaimed that this Jesus whom He baptised was going to do something extraordinary: that Jesus was going to baptise men and women not with water, but with the Spirit of God.
He was the virgin-born Immanuel–God with us–who lived a blameless life, fulfilling all righteousness in His obedience to God.
He would become the Lamb of God as our substitute and our sin bearer and take away all our guilt. He would taste death and lie in the grave and rise on the third day from the dead.
He would ascend to the right hand of God and crowned with all authority in heaven and earth. But more was needed. What more could He do for us?
It is essential that He baptised with the Holy Spirit favoured sinners whom He has brought to hear the Gospel.
Pentecost was going to be the culmination of Jesus’ ministry.
- It was a Radical New Beginning
God was doing a new thing – never had anything like this happened in the existence of the earth, with only hints of it in the OT. The real new age is the age of the Holy Spirit of God.
- It was the Inauguration of the New Covenant
The New Covenant replaced the shadows of the Old (Jer. 31:31).
It would be inaugurated in Jesus’ blood shed on Calvary, and would be applied to the believers shortly after that when the Spirit of God was poured out on them at Pentecost.
The Father promised that this would happen – He gave His word. The word ‘promise’ is often used in relation to the coming of the Holy Spirit (Luke 24:49).
Without the Spirit of God in this world we have no power.
- It was the Birthday of the Bride of Christ
The Church is the communion of saints (so described in the Apostle’s Creed). No one will deny that the Church existed in Old Testament times. Those believers met together on feast days and in times of crisis they worshipped God and repented together. And how they prayed those people (e.g. the Psalms)!
Ever since the Fall of man, there have been one Saviour – the Lord Jesus Christ and there was only one way of becoming redeemed – through faith in Him who is the Seed of the woman who bruises the serpent’s head. He is the Christ of prophesy who gave the Law on Sinai and the Spirit of doxology to the psalmist. He is the Lord of all the patriarchs and prophets and tens of thousands who believed in His coming, and was saved by the blood that He shed.
So I say to the world: Next time you wonder why the wheels are coming off, as yourself ‘what happened to me because of Pentecost? Where is my heart, where is my will, my motives? What are my plans? Do I have someone more important than Christ in my life? Do I have a more important place to be than the gathering of the saints?’ Ask yourself, and answer the question honestly, then get up and with all those paupers and people, in a manner of speaking come to Jerusalem and receive His Spirit by faith.
That is the true meaning of Pentecost.