This past Sunday was Pentecost Sunday. It is a day largely ignored by much of the Christian church, and, to be frank, it shows. We make much out of Christmas and Easter, and while the incarnation, crucifixion, and resurrection of Jesus are all impossible to over-emphasize, Pentecost deserves close attention as well.
Pentecost is extraordinarily important
On Pentecost, Jesus told His followers it was better for them if He were to go away. Think about that. Jesus is the One who healed the sick, fed the multitudes, cast out demons, calmed the storm, made the blind see and the lame walk, and even raised the dead. And Jesus said it was good if He went away? How is it possible that Jesus not being around could be a good thing?
Jesus answered that question, Himself. After Jesus was crucified, resurrected, and ascended into heaven, He sent the Holy Spirit to His followers. At Pentecost, He said if He did not go away, the Holy Spirit would not come, but if He went away, He would send the Holy Spirit to us. Gaining the Holy Spirit was so good for us that it was worth Jesus leaving the Earth in physical form in order to ensure it happened. Pentecost is extraordinarily important!
Do not get confused, however! Pentecost is not the beginning of the work of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit of God was at work throughout the whole Bible, beginning in the first chapter of Genesis. We know the Spirit would “come upon” individuals at special times for special reasons to accomplish a task or work God had for them.
internal presence of transformation
At Pentecost, however, the Holy Spirit was given to believers in a different fashion. Instead of the Holy Spirit coming upon someone, the Holy Spirit came to dwell within someone. Instead of the Spirit being at work for a specific time and function, now, the Holy Spirit is as “rivers of living water flowing from your innermost being.” The Holy Spirit is not merely an external support but an internal presence of transformation.
Two results occurred at Pentecost when those gathered in the upper room experienced immersion (baptism) in and by the Holy Spirit. The first effect was holiness of heart and life, and the second was they gained the power of Christian service. The impact of the Holy Spirit dwelling within a person is that the person has a newfound resource which enables them to live a transformed life, consistent with the character of Jesus. In addition, a promise was given to them for the power for ministry. It is not a power for selfish gain, but to be witnesses of Jesus everywhere.
Pentecost is about transformed lives and power for fruitful ministry. It turned the timid, frightened, unsure followers of Jesus into the Church, the Body of Christ, impacting the world for the glory of God. Let us live in the light of Pentecost!