Today is Pentecost 2014, the day that commemorates the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in believers as recorded in the book of Acts – traditionally celebrated 50 days after Easter and 10 days after the ascension of Christ. As you already know, after the resurrection of Jesus, there were multiple sightings of Him that eventually resulted in Jesus revealing Himself the the disciples as well as to select others. There was the famous story of Thomas, doubting the presence of Jesus in front of him – until Jesus showed Thomas the marks on his hands from the crucifixion. Jesus then talked about blessing those who believed without actually seeing. Of course, this event was the beginning of the phrase “doubting Thomas…”
The disciples had been told that Jesus would be going away and that another would come in His place, sent by the Father – but then again, the disciples had been told many things by Jesus that they just didn’t understand at the time. At least they listened to one thing that Jesus told them. He asked them to stay put – not to return to Jerusalem, as He had a gift for them. Now I am sure that the apostles were thinking some sort of great powerful thing was about to happen that would give them additional freedoms in a world that still had a difficult time with believers. And they obeyed – they didn’t return to Jerusalem and go back into their prior lives. Rather, they stayed committed to the cause and the rest, as they say, is history. And the gift – the power bestowed on them by the Holy Spirit – a gift that we know each believer receives today following a commitment to follow Christ as Lord and Savior.
After the ascension of Jesus, the disciples didn’t have long to wait – about 10 days. And then, about 120 people witnessed miraculous things as the Holy Spirit came upon them and they each understood one another in their own languages. This is the reversal of what had happened at the Tower of Babel many years earlier – when God had scattered the people after they had tried to build a monument to themselves. Now, God was encouraging them to unite as one.
This event, the coming of the Holy Spirit upon the believers, is also regarded in Christian circles as the beginning of the church – the ekklesia that Jesus talked about to Peter in the 16th chapter of Matthew. That’s where the first inkling came that Jesus would have a church, unlike any other assembly of people in history. Of course, we know that in the early days of the church, thousands of people were baptized and since that time, the church has been in continuous existence. There have been ups and downs – great times for the church – and other times in history, such as the religious wars, that really weren’t our finest hours. And that day so long ago when the Holy Spirit visited the assembled group? Well, Peter gave the first sermon of that new church – which you can study as you read the book of Acts.
Today, the church continues to be the hope of the world. It is the plan that Jesus used and still uses today to reach people throughout the world, drawing them to Himself. The verse for tonight is from the book of Acts, at the moment that the Holy Spirit came to the assembled crowd. We are told by Dr. Luke, the author of this book, in Acts 2:1-4, “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.”
My encouragement this evening is that Christ still wants us to reach the world for Him. That means that our mission has not yet been completed. My prayer is that this Pentecost you will dwell on the miraculous entrance of the Holy Spirit and acknowledge that Jesus has a wonderful gift for all of those who believe in Him – the indwelling of God Himself in each of us. Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…