This Sunday Is Pentecost Sunday

This coming Sunday is Pentecost Sunday, which commemorates the very beginning of the church. On this day 2000 years ago, as recorded in Acts 2, the Holy Spirit descended on the disciples gathered in an upper room in Jerusalem, and they were filled with boldness and power. Spilling into the streets, they declared the praises of God in different languages so that Jews gathered there from many different nations could all understand in their native tongues what the disciples were saying. Peter addressed the crowd to explain both the extraordinary event that was happening and the meaning of Jesus’ recent death and resurrection that had taken place 50 days before. His talk was so compelling the crowd was “cut to the heart” and cried out: “What must we do?” (Acts 2:37)

“Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins,” was Peter’s reply. Acts 2:41 says 3,000 were added to their number that day. Thus, the Church of Jesus Christ was born.

The reason the disciples had gathered on that day was to celebrate the traditional feast of Pentecost, which dated back some 1200 years before to the time of Moses. To Jews then and now, Pentecost celebrates the giving of the Ten Commandments at Mt. Sinai, when according to Jewish tradition the nation of Israel was established because all the Jews who were gathered at the foot of the mountain agreed to do what God told them. (See Exodus 19:8 and Exodus 24:3.) The name “Pentecost” means “fiftieth” and refers to the fact that this feast day  comes 50 days after the first Passover, when Israel fled Egypt as the Angel of Death passed over them.

The parallels between what happened on the first Pentecost at Mt. Sinai and the second Pentecost in Jerusalem are very striking and reveal the perfection of God’s plan for the world’s redemption. On the first Pentecost God showed up with loud thunder, smoke and lighting. On the second Pentecost God’s Spirit showed up with a loud sound of rushing wind and tongues of fire. At the first Pentecost, God came over the Mountain to reveal His Covenant with Israel. He gave the Commandments as His “marriage contract” outlining Israel’s obligation for fulfilling their covenantal relationship with God. At the second Pentecost, Peter revealed that Jesus was Israel’s long-awaited Messiah and gave instructions for how people were to fulfill God’s New Covenant based on God’s love and grace. The Bride of Christ arose for the first time in Acts 2, a process that continues to this day as new believers are added to God’s church every day.
Remarkably, 3000 people were added to the first church following Peter’s exhortation on the second Pentecost, which perfectly parallels the 3000 people who were slain on the first Pentecost after they had worshiped the Golden Calf.
Did you know that today in our time some 174,000 new believers are added to the church every single day? (Click here for details.) In addition, 3500 new churches are begun every week! The power of Pentecost continues unabated in our time ever since the church began in 30 AD.
Jesus said He didn’t come to abolish the Law of Moses but to fulfill it. (Matthew 5:17) Not only was He the  perfect Lamb of God who was slain to redeem us from our sins, but He released the Spirit of God at Pentecost to sweep the nations of the world off their feet and impart the ability to enter the Kingdom of God. That’s something well worth celebrating! 
Pentecost Header Image Credit: Rebecca Brogan, John the Baptist Artworks