Pentecost, The Need, The Reward
“Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: forif I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you.” John 16:7
“And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high. And he led them out as far as to Bethany, and he lifted up his hands, and blessed them. And it came to pass, while he blessed them, he was parted from them, and carried up into heaven. And they worshipped him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy: And were continually in the temple, praising and blessing God. Amen." Luke 24:49-53
The disciples had walked with Jesus for three years. They had seen Him do miracles, heal the sick, restore sight to the blind, make the lame to walk and the to deaf hear [Luke 7:22-23]. They saw Him cast out demons [Mark 1:39; 8:16-17; 9:14-29]; raise people of all ages from the dead [Mark 5:34-43; John 5:21; John 11:14-44]; and provide food for thousands with much left over [Matthew 14:16-20]. They had seen Him turn water into wine [John 2:1-11], walk on the seas [Matthew 14:25-32], and multiply the catch of fish so greatly that Peter and his fellow fishermen could not gather them all in [Luke 5:2-8; John 21:3-9]. They saw and heard Him rebuke the wind and calm the seas [Mark 4:36-41]. Peter, James and John in particular saw Him transfigured before their eyes in the presence of Moses and Elijah [Mark 17:1-5] and they heard the voice of God say. “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him.” Matthew 17:5
Now, He was gone from them; taken up into Heaven and they were left with a promise and a commandment to go to Jerusalem and tarry there until they received power from on high, (from God) to be His witnesses throughout the world.
For the Jews, Pentecost, (also called Shavuot and the “Feast of Weeks,”) was the festival day that occurred fifty days after Passover. Traditionally, it is a celebration of the time the Law (Ten Commandments) was given to Moses on Mt. Sinai. It is also a time of thanksgiving for the wheat harvest and was a memorial to God’s promise to never again destroy the world with a flood. It was a Commandment that every Jew should observe every year according to Leviticus 23.
For this reason on that Day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit fell upon the hundred and twenty gathered in the Upper room, there were Jews from every nation under heaven and non-Jews, merchants and people gathered in Jerusalem from all over the region.
“And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven. Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language. And they were all amazed and marvelled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galilaeans? And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born? Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judaea, and Cappadocia, in Pontus, and Asia, Phrygia, and Pamphylia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes, Cretes and Arabians, we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God.” Acts 2:5-11
From that Pentecost day, for the disciples and the Church throughout the years, Pentecost is celebrated as the day the Church received power to be witnesses of Jesus to the whole world.
This power was promised to everyone who would ask for it and was and is given to everyone who will believe.
“If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?” Luke 11:13
The Holy Spirit with empowerment is a gift, but there is a cost, not in material or monetary terms, but in the surrender of the will and all that resists the work of God in us. It is a gift you have to ask to receive.
The cost of Pentecost is two-fold. You must ask and you must believe. Simple. No strange posturing, no smoke and incantations, just a simple surrender of the will to embrace the promise of God. Of the hundred and twenty gathered in the Upper Room it is written that they were all gathered there together in one accord.
Remarkable! By their own choice each one in that company of one hundred and twenty people of different personalities and of different mental, emotional and manners of expression and style were all in one accord in one place on that day with a singular, expectant hope and confidence in the promise of God to them. They all believed and were fully persuaded that at any moment there would come from Heaven a power to them to fulfill the calling Jesus had charged them to fulfill.
“But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.” Acts 1:8
The power to witness ofand forJesus is tied to receiving the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit came to us with a mighty wind and fire from Heaven. The wind is the breath of life, not just a gentle breeze, but a mighty rushing wind, a force with the power to create and to destroy, to create life and to destroy the works of darkness. The fire, likewise, is the Word of God that purges and purifies.
“Is not my word like as a fire? saith the Lord; and like a hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces?” Jeremiah 23:29
It purifies our hearts and purges our minds and thoughts from the dead works of our old life to passionately pursue the works of righteousness of the new life in Jesus Christ, [2 Corinthians 5:17] to live our lives in the presence of and clothed in the glory of God.
Isaiah saw a glimpse of this in the year that King Uzziah died. In that year while he was in the temple worshiping God he received a vision of the glory of God seated on the throne of Heaven. Falling to his knees and crying out he said,
“...Woe is me! for I am undone; because I ama man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts. Then flew one of the seraphims unto me, having a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with the tongs from off the altar: And he laid it upon my mouth, and said, Lo, this hath touched thy lips; and thine iniquity is taken away, and thy sin purged. Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me.” Isaiah 6:5-8
If we would be effective, powerful witnesses ofand forJesus Christ we all need the Holy Spirit, the power to speak, pray and sing in other tongues (in the Spirit), the power to testify and declare the wonderful works of God to every tribe and tongue and people and nation.
The cost of Pentecost is everything we have, the surrender of pride and self-preservation, the yielding of our fears to trust His care for us, the humbling of our will to be obedient to His Word. In other words the dying of our fleshly motivated desires so that we can gain everything of the life, the glory and the righteousness of Jesus in sprit and in truth.
Now, this is not a grievous, burdensome, or gut wrenching task. In fact, contrary to what the devil would have us think, it is easy and light. Hear and receive these words.
“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-29
“For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.” Philippians 2:13
“Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” Luke 12:32