The beginning of Pentecost

Easter Sunday is the beginning of Pentecost so I thought I’d share a few thoughts on the significance of Pentecost.

The word ‘Pentecost’ means ‘50 days’. In the Old Testament the festival of Pentecost marked the completion of the barley harvest. It took place 50 days after the first barley sheaf was offered at the Passover festival. The Holy Spirit came on the first apostles on the Jewish day of Pentecost so Pentecost for Christians marks the giving of the Holy Spirit to God’s people.

A new hope for glory
The Jewish festival of Pentecost was a celebration of the harvest. The Holy Spirit is described as ‘the first fruits’ of God’s new creation. So Pentecost is a reminder that we have a wonderful inheritance.

For [God’s] Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s children. And since we are his children, we are his heirs. In fact, together with Christ we are heirs of God’s glory … And we believers … groan, even though we have the Holy Spirit within us as the first fruits of future glory, for we long for our bodies to be released from sin and suffering. (Romans 8:16-17, 23)

A new desire for holiness
The Jewish festival of Passover marked the exodus from Egypt and Pentecost marked the coming of the people of Israel, 50 days later, to Mount Sinai to receive God’s law. So Pentecost is a reminder that the Holy Spirit writes God’s law on our hearts, giving us the desire to please him.

But now we have been released from the law, for we died to it and are no longer captive to its power. Now we can serve God, not in the old way of obeying the letter of the law, but in the new way of living in the Spirit. (Romans 7:6)

A new power for mission
Before he ascended to heaven, Jesus promised his followers power through the Holy Spirit so they might be his witnesses to the ends of the earth. So Pentecost is a reminder that the Holy Spirit gives us power for mission.

You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere – in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. (Acts 1:8)