Terry R. Baughman
“Behold, I send the Promise of My Father upon you; but tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high” (Luke 24:49).
Exciting events and momentous occasions are often marked on the calendar and passing time is checked off day by day. If anyone asks, there is a quick response of how many days remain before the big day, “Only twenty-three days until …!” Whether it is Christmas, a wedding, or graduation, big events are anticipated and celebrated with anxious expectation.
The Day of Pentecost was such a celebrated feast day in Jerusalem. Annually, crowds would come from miles around to participate in the religious observance of offering thanks to God for the first fruits of harvest and the celebration of bounty as meals were shared with family and friends who gathered. On the calendar it was to be observed fifty days after Passover. It was commanded in the Scripture, “Count fifty days to the day after the seventh Sabbath; then you shall offer a new grain offering to the Lord” (Leviticus 23:16).
Passover became a memorial of the deliverance from the visit of the angel of death that came to the Egyptian households. Every other house where the doorway was marked with the blood of the lamb was spared the curse of death to the firstborn. This annual observance became a celebration of victory over death.
The festival of weeks (seven weeks plus one day) was a celebration of provision and a symbol of continuing sustenance. Its arrival was marked by the Day of Pentecost (meaning fifty in the Greek) and the annual celebration of renewal. From death to life, Jesus brought new meaning to these symbols. Much in the same way that at the Last Supper Jesus gave meaning to the bread and drink representing His body and blood; He now gave new meaning to these ancient celebrations of life. Jesus, our Passover lamb was sacrificed for us that we might have everlasting life. He has also promised us the gift of His Holy Spirit abiding with us in our own personal Pentecost. Because of His gift, we too are given victory over death, hell, and the grave.
It was more than an observance, more than an annual ritual, Christ promised a powerful experience when He commanded His followers to, “Tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high” (Luke 24:49). They counted the days. Jesus observed the Passover meal with His disciples, was crucified and buried before another sunset, but three days later He appeared as the resurrected Savior. He continued meeting with His followers for the next forty days before His spectacular ascension in the presence of a crowd of over 500 people. (Acts 1:2–3, 9; 1 Corinthians 15:6.)
In obedience to Christ’s instruction, they returned to the city and assembled in an upper room waiting for, “the Promise of the Father,” that Jesus promised when He said they would be, “baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now” (Acts 1:4–5). As they waited they were counting the days. They realized that something great was about to happen, no doubt sensing the alignment of this new spiritual experience with their ancient celebration of harvest. After prayerfully waiting for another seven days, the fiftieth day arrived, “When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, … they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance” (Acts 2:1, 4).
Today, we rejoice in the experience of Pentecost and we live with the promise of His second coming, “This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven” (Acts 1:11). We don’t know how many days until His return, but until He comes we will count the days!
“When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, … they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance” (Acts 2:1, 4).