Ten days after the ascension of Jesus Christ.
Fifty days after Jesus’ resurrection.
The Holy Spirit descended on the disciples on the day of Pentecost.
Pentecost is yet another commonly forgotten day in the church year that holds significant historical roots and practical implications for the life of today’s church.
The day of Pentecost significantly transformed what was already an established Jewish festival known as Shavuot (חג השבועות) or The Festival of Weeks. Levitcus 23:15-21 outlines the mandated celebration, which was to occur 50 days following the passover. This week marked the end of the harvesting season. Because of the ceremonial customs associated with the week, this feast drew people from many nations back to Jerusalem.
The account of Pentecost is given by the apostle Luke in Acts 2.
The Calvin Institute of Christian Worship in describes Pentecost as symbolizing a new beginning:
“It celebrates the unleashing of the Holy Spirit on the world and the empowering of the church to reach the world with the gospel. In celebrating Pentecost, the church expresses its gratitude for the faithfulness of Christ in fulfilling his promise to send “another counselor” (John 14:16); celebrates the work of the Spirit in renewing all of creation; professes its confidence and security in knowing the Spirit’s power is available for its mission; and grows in awareness of the immensity of its calling to reach the world with the gospel.”
Pentecost is a reminder that even though Christ’s physical presence is now at the right hand of God the Father, the same power that rose Christ from the grave is available to us through the outpouring of the Spirit. It is by the Spirit we are enabled to know and love God, and it is by the Spirit that we are empowered as the Church to participate it God’s story of creation.