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What Happened at Pentecost and Why It’s Important




The book of Acts shows how God fulfilled His ancient promises to restore His blessing to all the nations through the offspring of Abraham: Jesus of Nazareth. In this video, we’ll explore how Jesus and the Spirit renew the people of Israel and prepare them to announce good news to the nations.

Pentecost was an ancient Israelite festival where, every summer, thousands of Jewish pilgrims from all over the world would return to Jerusalem.

Imagine a scene where masses of people from different cultures, speaking different languages, all converged in one place to celebrate a one-day harvest occurring seven weeks after Passover (as they were instructed to do in Leviticus 23:15-21.) Can you picture the controlled chaos? Can you hear the consistent roar of the people? Can you smell the dirt and dust kicked up by the well-worn feet of the farmers who had made the journey to present their offerings?

This is the climate of the city as the disciples of Jesus found themselves gathering in a house, having added Matthias to their number through the casting of lots (Acts 1:26.) *Interestingly, this is the final time we will see the people of God make decisions through the casting of lots, an ancient method used to determine outcomes or make choices. While the scriptures do not give us a prescription for the practice, scholars studying etymology suggest that Israelites would have placed marked stones into a container, which was shaken to “cast” out a deciding stone, thereby determining with a sense of divination God’s divine will. This was all about to change forever.* 

As the disciples gathered, scripture tells us that:

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 2:1-4

As our friends at Bible Project point out, this theme of God’s presence as fire is repeated throughout the Old Testament, but here in Acts, it is a distinct representation, one with everlasting consequences for us as believers today. God’s presence has come to take up new residence, not in a temple constructed to house it by man but inside of us, Jesus’ people.

We, the body of Christ, the Church, were imparted with His presence on Pentecost, and the Holy Spirit continues to dwell inside each and every one of us to this day. The Holy Spirit, sometimes called the Paraclete or the Helper, transforms us to look more and more like Jesus in thoughts and actions and empowers us to (as the Apostle Paul wrote to the church in Philippi) conduct ourselves in a manner worthy of the Gospel.

This is why Pentecost is a day worth celebrating. In fact, it is one of the greatest days in not just the Church’s history but human history as the Holy Spirit, the third person of the Trinity, the prophesied gift of God (Joel 2:28-32), was poured out on His people.

So how does this apply to you? Well, if you are a believer in Jesus, the Holy Spirit is also now poured out upon and living within you! Jesus himself had told the disciples in the previous chapter of Acts:

“Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 1:4-5)

And shortly thereafter:

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8) Learn more about this verse in our How To Study Scripture Track.*

While Jesus’ instructions were specific to His disciples then (you probably aren’t called to witness to Samaria) we can glean from these verses that as followers of Jesus today, each one of us is still called to proclaim to the people in our neighborhoods, cities, schools, and jobs God’s goodness, faithfulness, and sacrifice to save through Jesus. How? Through the same gift that was given to the Disciples in Acts, God’s Holy Spirit. He is who brings about your sanctification (bringing about conviction and helping to make you more and more like Jesus) and who will empower you with everything you need to live in freedom from sin and fulfill God’s desired plans for your life. (Galatians 5)

So be encouraged by the story of Pentecost! Thank God today for the gift of the Holy Spirit, and the way He is working in your life even as you read this, and if you want to dive even deeper into the everlasting results of this amazing day, check out this teaching from Louie Giglio: The Greatest Day on Earth.*

Thanks to Bible Project for the use of their video What Happened at Pentecost and Why It’s Important which is part of their series on Luke and Acts.

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Scripture References

  • Acts 1:1-7
  • Acts 2
  • Leviticus 23:15-21
  • Galatians 5
Bible Project Bible Project a nonprofit, crowdfunded organization that makes free resources like videos, podcasts, articles, and classes to help people experience the Bible in a way that is approachable and transformative; showcasing the literary art of the Scriptures and tracing key biblical themes from Genesis to Revelation.