What Does Pentecost Mean Now?
The Start of the Pentecost Story
The story of Pentecost starts in Acts 2. Jesus had already returned to the Father and the multitude witnessed his ascension. This would have been roughly fifty days after Jesus’ resurrection.
Pentecost was a holiday in which people would often pilgrimage to Jerusalem. It was a celebration of the first fruits of the harvest season. The city would have been bustling with joy and visitors from other areas of the world.
During this time, in the morning, the apostles were in the upper room (which some speculate is where the last supper took place). Acts 2:2 says, “Suddenly a sound from like that of a violent rushing wind came from heaven, and it filled the whole house where they were staying” (CSB). The Holy Spirit descends on them and causes them to speak in other languages, or as Scripture describes, “tongues of fire.” It is timely that the Holy Spirit would descend on them during Pentecost because this was the first fruit of what was to come in the church.
Speaking in tongues
Nationalities from all over the world heard their languages being spoken, as many Jews had traveled from other regions. Because apostles were declaring the acts of God in many languages, it drew a crowd. Many speculated that they were drunk, but they were soon corrected.
Peter delivered a sermon telling the Jewish crowd that they were not drunk but rather were fulfilling the prophecy in Joel about the Spirit being poured out. He continued to tell them that Jesus is their Messiah and that they killed him. They were pricked to the heart and asked, “What shall we do?” Peter replied that they must repent and be baptized, and afterward they would receive the Holy Spirit. It says in verse 41 that three thousand accepted that message and believed.
The significance of Pentecost
This was a miraculous event in the life of the early church! But why is this significant to us now?
The Holy Spirit. Jesus told us in John 16:7, “I am telling you the truth. It is for your benefit that I go away because if I don’t go away the Counselor will not come to you. If I go, I will send him to you” (CSB). Think about that! It is better for us to have the Holy Spirit than Jesus on earth with us. The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of God that can dwell with all believers simultaneously, whereas Christ in his mortal body was human and confined to physical space.
This Spirit reminds us of truth, comforts us in times of need, connects us to God, and illuminates Scripture. He also empowers believers for ministry. We are living in days that Old Testament believers looked forward to with longing!
The Preservation of the Church. Although there were others besides the twelve apostles who believed in Christ at this time, Pentecost was a huge boom of believers! This is the beginning of the fulfillment of Jesus’ parables about the kingdom of God. Matthew 13 talks about the kingdom of God being like leaven that a woman mixes into fifty pounds of flour. Slowly, it will grow! God’s church wasn’t crushed by the death of Christ or even persecutions. It grew, and will continue to grow, through the power of God’s Spirit—the Spirit that was given at Pentecost!
For the Christian, the same power that raised Christ from the dead lives inside them (Rom. 8:11). 2 Timothy 1:7 says, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but one of power, love, and sound judgment” (CSB). If you are a believer in Christ, thank God for Pentecost and what it means for you today!
See also The Significance of Easter and Lent in Focus.