Today is the day of Pentecost for the Jewish and Christian churches. In the Jewish church, it commemorates the giving of the Law. In the Christian church, it commemorates the giving of the Spirit. The book of Acts, chapter 2, gives an account of a group of Jesus' disciples sitting together in a house on the day of Pentecost. They were in Jerusalem because Jesus had told them to stay there and wait for the Holy Spirit. As they were sitting there, "suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them." (Acts 2:2-4)
Okay, let's back up a bit. Why would Jesus have told them to wait, and not to go out and start preaching immediately? I mean, they had seen Jesus crucified, and then they saw him come back to life and talk to them, and then they saw him fly up into the sky. You might think that was enough eyewitness evidence to convince people. But Jesus knew this preaching life. He had lived it for three years. He knew how hard it was. How exhausted a person could get. How dangerous it was. He knew that his followers would need more than their own enthusiasm to get through it.
Jesus had promised to send the Holy Spirit, even saying that he had to go away so that the Spirit could come (John 16:7). This was the same Spirit that had empowered Jesus at the beginning of his own ministry (John 1:32). We see the amazing way the Spirit came to them - it came upon Jesus like a dove, but upon these disciples it was tongues of flame! And it had an immediate effect. After Jesus' baptism, he was driven out into the desert by himself for 40 days of testing. But these disciples were driven to speak! And not just to speak, but to speak in languages that they didn't even know!
Why did this happen? Was it just a "sign?" No. As with everything God does, it had a purpose. Remember this was the Jewish holiday of Pentecost, or Shavuoth. During this feast, Jews from near and far made a pilgrimage to the temple in Jerusalem to bring their offering of first fruits. So there were Jewish people from all over the place in the city that day. Many of them had been exiled from the land of Israel generations before, and they had adopted the languages of their new homes. The amazing thing was that every one of them heard the Spirit's message in their own language! And Acts 2:41 tells us that about three thousand people were baptized, and received the Holy Spirit -THAT DAY! Think of the impact of three thousand Spirit-filled believers going back to their towns and villages all over the known world with the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Have you received the power of the Holy Spirit in your life, or are you trying to go on in your own strength? Is your witness power-full or power-less? Let yourself be saturated by the Holy Spirit. And then go forward to be witness-bearers. Not by might or power, but by the Spirit of the Lord.
Do you need someone to talk to? Or someone to pray with? Or maybe you don't know much about Jesus or the Holy Spirit but would like to. Please contact us. At the Second Baptist Church of Dover, we are committed to helping people experience the love of God. If you are nearby, please stop in. We would love to meet you!