Whatever happened to Pentecost Sunday?
Pentecost is one of four very significant days on my personal Christian calendar following Christmas, Good Friday, and Easter acknowledging the fourth major phase of the Gospel story and plan.
Pentecost is found in Old and New Testament history including acts of God the Father, Son, and Spirit – the entire Trinity. Jesus came at Christmas, died on Good Friday, and was raised up on Easter morning. But whatever happened to continuing the story with the coming of the Holy Spirit? Is the celebration of Pentecost one of several special church days that got “thrown out with the baby water” as newer churches were formed?
After Jesus came and departed having completed His work on the cross, there is more to the Gospel story. Luke wrote his great Gospel (Part 1) and then wrote a second book (The Acts of the Apostles), picking up where he left off, writing about “all that Jesus began to do and teach.” He completes the story as he tells of what happened to Jesus’ followers after He left.
Jesus spent forty days (a number symbolic of a period of testing and teaching) with His disciples after the resurrection commissioning them to carry on His message of salvation and holy living. Desiring that Christianity should follow His leaving us, He left a final wish, a commandment, the Great Commission, the “Misseo Dei” (God mission). He turned over the family business, as I like to think with the words, “Go into all the world and make disciples of all nations.” (Matt 28:19ff)
But Jesus also added a “But…” He added “Do not leave Jerusalem (Don’t start) … but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about … in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit … you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:4-8)
Our Savior promised that He would not leave His disciples on their own. Ten days later, came the Old Testament celebration of Pentecost and the Feast of Weeks – a celebration commanded by God – a celebration of harvest. What a fitting day for the New Testament celebration of the new Pentecost – the new celebration of harvest, of people’s souls! Pentecost Sunday is now celebrated fifty days after Easter – seven Sundays (plus Easter Sunday) in the modern church.
How wonderful that God sent the Holy Spirit to live within and then to empower His people (Acts 2:1ff.) The same Holy Spirit, who in Old Testament times came upon God’s servants to empower them, helps us live a daily life that is empowered with salvation and service when we call upon Him.
Are we missing something? I truly am saved and have eternal life because of the work of the cross and the resurrection. But, I’m missing something without recognizing the need for the Holy Spirit taking over my life, daily, as it did with the early disciples, without being “clothed with power from on high” (Luke 24:49) To me, Pentecost is the birthday party of the church. And, I feel like celebrating that!
Pastor Bill Baltz is a member of the Carson Valley Ministers’ Association.