“When you strip it of everything else, Pentecost stands for power and life. That’s what came into the church when the Holy Spirit came down on the day of Pentecost.” – David Wilkerson, The Cross and the Switchblade
Two events gave a fresh and powerful impetus to the disciples of Jesus after their Master had died on the cross. The first one was the fact that God had raised Jesus from the dead (Luke 24:1-12) and made Him Lord (Acts 2:36). The second was the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the crowd of disciples at Pentecost, as described in Acts 2. The sending of the Holy Spirit and His indwelling in those who follow and belong to Christ became instantaneously the central and distinctive feature of the first Christian communities.
Christmas and Easter are two well-celebrated events in the Holy Land. Although Pentecost doesn’t have the same resonance, it is still an event of great significance to the Christian community as a whole, as well as to the individuals. We might consider, where would we be without the Holy Spirit?! Still in the Upper Room, possibly!
Pentecost is the day we remember the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles and the other followers of Jesus in the Upper Room (also known as the cenacle), where 120 people gathered, including women! They were all in the upper room, afraid, quiet, frightened, suspicious, and unsure of what will happen in days to come…but…something happened that changed everything! In the very room that is considered the site where many events in the New Testament took place, something even more special took place! It is the place where Jesus washed the feet of His disciples, where Jesus appeared to His disciples, where the disciples gathered after the ascension of Jesus, where the election of Matthias as an apostle was initiated. And now – the descent of the Holy Spirit on the disciples.
Jesus performed His miracles by the Holy Spirit as a sign of the coming of the Kingdom of God and now the disciples were empowered in a unique way – just like Jesus promised them. It was a life- transforming event, as they subsequently “turned the world upside down” (Acts 17: 6)
Just imagine if we as Palestinian Christians gave the Holy Spirit room to work in our lives and hearts as was the case in the life of the first Christians. Has the Holy Spirit become merely nostalgic? Have we actually forgotten about the Holy Spirit altogether? Have we allowed fear to paralyse us? Why does it seem sometimes that we are ashamed to even mention the name of Jesus on our tongues? Aren’t we too supposed to “turn the world upside down” just like the men of Judea?
Who but the Holy Spirit promises, guides, leads, comforts, blesses people and relationships and enables us to bear fruit in a dry and barren land? This is something that I experienced in my own life, childhood, teenage years, ministry years, and recently in my engagement to Michael (pictured)! Having an engagement ring on my right hand is a promise that I will be soon be wedded to my special man: it is a seal. As committed believers, we are also marked in Christ with the seal of the Holy Spirit.
“And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit.”(Ephesians 1: 13)
“He set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.” (2 Corinthians 1:22)
My prayer is that both the resurrection and Pentecost continue to be a fresh reality in our lives, in our small and big decisions so that we might be a shining testimony to Him who not only gave us the Holy Spirit, but everything else in this life and beyond. As I and fellow believers remember Pentecost in the land where the church was first established, may we ask God to ignite His fire and Spirit in our lives, hearts and churches and burn every dross and chaff from our lives, so that all what we think, say or do is holy and pleasing to the Lord. There is so much that we can do empowered by the Holy Spirit as individuals, couples and families! Let us keep our eyes on what is above.