Pentecost – When the Church Received the Holy Spirit
Jesus was getting ready to go to heaven. He had gathered His disciples together on Mt. Olivet and was saying goodbye to them. They all had sad faces because they didn’t want Him to go. He was going back to the Father and they would be left down here on their own. Jesus had reminded them earlier, “I will not leave you orphans.” (John 14:18) But perhaps they still felt like they were being abandoned.
Just before Jesus left He gave His followers a promise. “For John baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” (Acts 1;5) “…And you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts1:8)
Jesus instructed His disciples to go back to Jerusalem and wait for the Holy Spirit to be poured out upon them. Then He began to rise in the air. With heavy hearts the disciples watched as Jesus left them and was taken up to heaven. After Jesus was gone they trudged back to Jerusalem to wait for His promised Holy Spirit. They settled down to wait in the upper room of a large house, and many more followers of Jesus (about 120 of them) came to join them. This large excited group of believers stayed together in the upper room for the next nine or ten days. No one left since Jesus had promised that every believer would receive this wonderful gift. The anxious group waited and prayed together day after day for the Holy Spirit to come upon them.
It must have been quite a prayer meeting! And then it finally happened. Let’s listen: “When the Day of Pentecost had come, they were all together and in agreement in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Then there appeared to them tongues, like fire, and one sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.” (Acts 2:1-4)
A group of people from many different countries were in Jerusalem during Pentecost and heard this noisy group and the story of Jesus being told, each in his own language. Surprised as to how these believers could speak so many different languages, this international group of on-lookers gathered around these ecstatic believers as they were speaking in tongues. How could each foreigner hear the gospel in his own language? What was going on here? Were they all drunk? Then Peter stood up and preached to the crowd and told them that the Holy Spirit had just been poured out onto these believers. (Acts 2:14-17) Peter went on to tell them that Jesus had died for their sins and the crowd listened and many believed. Scripture tells us that three thousand people believed in Jesus that day and were saved. The power of the Holy Spirit was present in full force!
Jesus had not left his followers after all! His Spirit had fallen on each one of them there at Pentecost. He would still be doing His work on earth through them. And through us too. Scripture says that every believer is filled with the Holy Spirit! “For we are all baptized by one Spirit into one body – whether Jews or Greek, slaves or free – and we are all given the one Spirit to drink.” (1 Corinthians 12:13) Jesus is in the world today through those of us who believe in Him. We are His body and we are being changed by the Holy Spirit that is in us.
At Pentecost the coming of the Holy Spirit sounded like a mighty rushing wind and was seen as a tongue of fire over each believer’s head. Some say that the Holy Spirit is like fire because the He is so powerful. And the Spirit is often likened to the wind because we can’t see where the Spirit is moving, as God works in mysterious ways. “The wind blows wherever it pleases, you hear its sound but you cannot tell where it has come from or where it is going. So it is with everyone that is born of the Spirit.” (John 3:8)
Do we believers appreciate this gift of the Holy Spirit that we have living in us? The Bible tells us that the Holy Spirit is constantly working in us: teaching us spiritual truths, convicting us of our sins and leading us. (John 14:26) He pours out God’s love in our hearts. (Rom.5:5) He gives us gifts for ministry and strengthens our inner being. (1 Cor. 12;4-11 & Eph.3:16) He seals us for heaven and His presence in us is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance of the kingdom. (Eph.1:13-14) And Scripture tells us that we can grieve Him. (Eph.4:30)
Let’s try to be aware every day that the Holy Spirit is living in us. Listen for His still small voice, wait on Him and never grieve or squelch Him. Life in the Spirit is a wonderful mysterious journey- a marvelous gift. Let’s receive everything He has for us. And let’s submit to His guidance and allow Him to lead us all the way.