On this day, at least 2,000 years ago, an important event occurred in Jerusalem, marking a turning point in the early Christian church. In an upper room in the centre of town, the Holy Spirit descended on the disciples of Jesus Christ, a few days after He had ascended to Heaven.
The Day of Pentecost was a Jewish feast celebrated 50 days after Passover – a ceremony that commemorates the day they killed the firstborn of Egypt to deliver the Israelites from bondage.
As you can imagine, with such a celebration, Jerusalem must have been teaming with Jewish pilgrims from all over the world.
Significance of the Holy Spirit’s descent
In the 40 days Jesus spent on earth after his resurrection, he urged his disciples to “tarry to Jerusalem” where they would receive the Holy Spirit to give them strength and wisdom to spread the gospel (Acts 1:8).
The descent of the Holy Spirit was important because for Him to come, Christ had to leave. Where once, Jesus ministered to a few people, now, his disciples had to traverse the world. There was no way they could do that without being empowered by the Holy Spirit because it was a cruel world, where the majority still practiced pagan beliefs.
I believe that the disciples needed spiritual strength to endure resistance; power to cast out demons; and power to heal the sick. Only the Holy Spirit can give such.
Who is the Holy Spirit?
No one knows us as much as we know ourselves. The same applies to God. Since the Holy Spirit is the spirit of God, the Holy Spirit is God. In the Old Testament, He anointed only a few – the prophets. After Christ, however, it became the will of God that all men should know Him.
The Holy Spirit lives in those who are willing to live godly lives.
In a godly life, the Holy Spirit becomes your conscience. He will inform your mind when you are about to, or doing something, wrong. He will help you overcome temptation.
Whether you listen and obey Him is a different matter.
As one studies the Bible or religious texts, the Holy Spirit gives one understanding and wisdom. He will remind you to pray and what or whom to pray for. He will inform you when someone needs a helping hand – a shoulder to cry on, a handout, or encouragement.
Living with the Holy Spirit’s presence
So, how do we know that He lives in us? I believe that whatever we harbour in our hearts always manifests itself in our behaviour and words.
According to the Bible, if you love or hate someone, they see it from the things you say or do for them. That is why Christ says evil comes from the inside and defiles a person (Mark 7:18-23).
If the Holy Spirit lives in you, not only will you notice it, others will, as well. His presence produces fruit, manifesting in Galatians 5:22-23.
As opposed good deeds, those who live out of His influence produce a different kind of fruit (Galatians 5:19-21).
So, to be better people, let us prayerfully ask the Holy Spirit into our lives.
Role of the church in God’s work
When the disciples received the Holy Spirit, they were together, sowing the seeds for the early church. Belonging to a church is important because that is where you find love and encouragement.
Although the Holy Spirit can live in us individually, His presence is also felt in the Church. Have you heard of welcoming, giving and peaceful churches? These have His presence.
Today, we should consider what value we add to our churches. When the priest/ reverend/pastor asks us to contribute to a church project, or visit the sick, what is our reaction? Are we too busy with Sunday afternoon activities to spare two hours, yet we run to the clergy when we get problems?
Inclusive ministry of the Church
After they received the Holy Spirit, the disciples began praising God in different tongues. Many Jews, from faraway lands, heard the disciples speaking in their adopted languages.
The disciples did not remain in the upper room. Instead, they went into the street and Peter began preaching the good news.
When we receive the Holy Spirit, as a church or individually, He is not only for our benefit. Through us, He benefits everyone. You can preach, visit the sick, help the needy, visit the lonely, or share food.