This year Pentecost Sunday will be celebrated on May 24th. Pentecost is originally a Greek name for a Jewish harvest festival dating back to Old Testament times – with the name meaning ‘fiftieth’ because it occurred fifty days after Passover. So why do we celebrate it today?
We celebrate what happened on the day of Pentecost seven weeks after the death and resurrection of Jesus. Following his rising from the dead, Jesus told his followers to wait in Jerusalem until they received the gift, the power which they would need for what he was calling them to do. That was the last time they saw him. Then they did as he instructed and simply waited. They probably had little idea of what to expect or when to expect it.
Then on the day of Pentecost, they suddenly received the gift and were filled with the power of the Holy Spirit. With the Holy Spirit empowering and enabling them, they communicated the good news of Jesus to people of many different nationalities and languages who were in Jerusalem that day. Before the day of Pentecost there were about one hundred and twenty believers – by the end of that day there were about three thousand. This was really the beginning of the Christian church.
Neither the church nor an individual Christian can achieve anything much of lasting value without the empowerment of the Holy Spirit. But if we allow God to work in us and through us by his Spirit, then we can expect to be amazed by what God can do. God longs to fill us with his Holy Spirit so that he can empower us and bless us.
Think about what you might need God’s empowerment for. Ask God to fill you with his Holy Spirit so that you can understand the Bible; so that you can be a blessing to those around you; so that you can have wisdom in making decisions; so that your life and work may be fruitful.
And on the day of Pentecost (May 24th), celebrate the fact that God does not expect us to go it alone in life – he wants to be with us and in us by his Spirit.