Aside from the resurrection of Jesus, no event in the history of Christianity has created as much awe and wonder as the Day of Pentecost, when the church left behind by Jesus gathered and experienced an outpouring of God’s Spirit and powerfully gave witness to Christ.
The point of Pentecost has been the subject of debate amongst various scholars and denominational traditions for hundreds of years now. What we can certainly agree on is this: The church was never the same after this day.
Until Pentecost, we see the disciples confused, immature, and hiding. After Pentecost, they are boldly facing persecution and powerfully giving witness to the risen Christ.
Whether you believe that this day was the beginning of a new kind of spiritual baptism or simply the mass empowering of God’s people once and for all in this present age, perhaps the bigger points of the story are these:
- God shows his power. He doesn’t leave us hanging forever. We see in this story a God who shows up, in his own way, in his own timing, and for his own purposes.
- God shares the moment. The disciples, themselves, participated in the greatest miracle of all on that day – the sharing of the good news about Jesus with people from all walks of life. And we still participate in his work today.
- God draws more people. Seventeen languages were understood that day, demonstrating that God wasn’t merely interested in a Jerusalem-based Jewish movement but was planting the seeds for a worldwide, multi-cultural movement to spread the very good gospel to the ends of the earth.
I’ve never attempted to stage a repeat of the Day of Pentecost, even on those biggest of Sundays when the crowd is at its largest. But I do believe we should hunger to enter into the empowering work God began that day. And I believe God invites us into it anytime we’re ready.