What is Pentecost and Why is it Important?
Christmas and Easter focus on Jesus, preparing for Pentecost to complete his work and reveal the Holy Spirit
Though it’s been co-opted by secular society, Christmas remains as the most popular Christian holiday, celebrating the birth of Jesus. Next in notoriety stand the tandem of Good Friday, remembering the execution of Jesus, and Easter, celebrating his emergence from his burial vault. While some faith practices focus on Good Friday and others emphasize Easter, the fact remains that we can’t have Easter without Good Friday and without Easter, Good Friday doesn’t matter.
What most churches gloss over, or even skip, are Ascension Day and Pentecost. Today is Pentecost (see if your church celebrates it) and a week and a half ago was Ascension Day (was that even mentioned?).
Ascension Day occurs forty days after Easter. Jesus rises from the dead, spends forty days with his friends and followers, gives them final instructions, and then ascends into heaven (Acts 1:9-11). Though practices vary, this was on Thursday, May 5. As a matter of convenience many churches acknowledge this miracle on the following Sunday, which they call Ascension Sunday.On Pentecost God sent the Holy Spirit to his church – and to us. Click To Tweet
Pentecost comes fifty days after Jesus resurrected and ten days after he returned to heaven. Before he left he told his followers to wait around for a gift he would send them, something from his Father (Luke 24:49 and Acts 1:4-5). This gift is the Holy Spirit.
On Pentecost, many of Jesus’s followers have gathered together. There is a loud noise and something like flames of fire fill the room and land on the people. The Holy Spirit fills them and they begin to supernaturally speak in other languages (Acts 2:1-12). The same Holy Spirit lives in us today.
Pentecost, by the way, didn’t start with Jesus. Its roots go back to the Old Testament in the Festival of Weeks (Exodus 34:22), now known as Shavuot.
While some followers of Jesus celebrate the Holy Spirit, other traditions diminish him or even dismiss him.
I choose to celebrate him and his power. After all, the Holy Spirit is an equal part of the godhead. Join me in celebrating Pentecost, the culmination of Jesus’s work.
Peter DeHaan writes about biblical spirituality. He seeks a fresh approach to faith and following God through the lens of scripture, without the baggage of manmade traditions and practices. Read more in his blog, books, and personal weekly email updates.
[Read more about the book of Acts in Dear Theophilus, Acts: 40 Devotional Insights for Today’s Church now available in e-book, paperback, and hardcover.]