It’s Pentecost, a significant day in the Christian Church.
Jesus told his followers to wait in Jerusalem for something amazing to happen. What that something was must have been a mystery as Jesus spoke of being baptized in the Holy Spirit. (Acts 1: 4-5)
Jesus spoke often about His sending the Spirit to take over His work. In John chapters 14 and 15 Jesus makes reference to the Spirit’s presence in our lives providing guidance, instruction, understanding of the truth and ultimately of pointing us to Himself.
We see Pentecost as the beginning of the church age. Not that the Holy Spirit wasn’t active in the lives of God’s people until then, but it was different.
In the Old Testament we have God being present with the nation of Israel in a specific place. First was the Tabernacle which was a tent like abode which suited their wilderness experience as the tent could be moved. Eventually Solomon built the Temple and God’s presence was understood to abide in the Holy of Holies, within the center of the Temple.
The Holy of Holies was behind curtains and only the high priest would enter once a year, sprinkle the mercy seat with blood to secure forgiveness for the nation as a collective act.
The Temple was everything. When the Babylonians conquered the nation of Judah in 588 BCE, they tore down Solomon’s magnificent Temple. Not that they didn’t appreciate beautiful architecture, but it was to show that Babylon’s god’s were superior to the God of the Israelites.
When Jesus comes along, the Temple has been rebuilt and we read of Jesus spending time there, teaching and healing. That’s where God did things. But Jesus got into trouble by telling the religious leaders that the Temple would be torn down and he would restore it again in three days. Of course, the temple he spoke of was Himself, but it was seen as blasphemous talk and an attack on the very centre of Judaist worship.
There’s more to this than meets the eye. Jesus was saying that the importance of the Temple was about to change. God’s Spirit was going to abide in God’s people and not in a building, as beautiful as that building might be.
When Jesus was crucified, we read in Matthew 27:51 that the veil of the Temple was torn in two from the top to the bottom. The significance of this was that experiencing the presence of God wasn’t going to be restricted to the High Priest once a year.
Therefore, the instruction to go to Jerusalem and wait, something that is usually hard for most of us to do.
Wait for God to do a new thing. And Pentecost was a new thing.
That’s the heritage we enjoy as God’s people. An intimacy with God through His Spirit that can lead, comfort, guide, secure and teach and so much more.
I overheard someone say the other day that the Government had shut down all the churches.
The Government has shut down all the buildings, but really to be fair, Covid-19 has shut down all the buildings. But the church remains active because we are the church, the people who believe that Jesus died and was resurrected so that there would be a group of people who attest to the love and grace of God.
That’s the amazing thing I mentioned earlier.
Wait for the Holy Spirit to come and make your life different.
People who live, not for their own benefit and gain, but for the good of others.
That’s the calling that we need to endeavour to live up to.