Reflections at Pentecost

[4] And while staying with them he ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, “you heard from me; [5] for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”
(Acts 1:4-5 ESV)

[1] When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. [2] And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. [3] And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. [4] And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.
(Acts 2:1-4 ESV)

Pentecost is often referred to as the Feast of Weeks (Ex.34:22; Deut.16:10) and occurs fifty days after the first Sunday after Passover (Pentecost comes from the Greek word for fiftieth).

At the beginning of the Book of Acts we are presented with the disciples of Christ meeting together, most likely talking over and discussing the final instructions from their Lord, “Go and make disciples” (Matt.28).

Why were they there?  What were they waiting on?

Jesus knew the task before these men and women in this room.  They walked with him throughout his ministry and saw him do amazing things.  They wondered at the things he did and taught. Then, Jesus says they would do even greater things (Jn.14:13-14).

What was before them?

A revolutionary movement.  The church.  Making disciples.  Baptizing believers.

These disciples of Christ had a daunting task… one they were unqualified for and most likely felt ill-prepared for.  Jesus tells them to wait in Jerusalem until they are baptized with the Holy Spirit (Acts.1:5).  Why?

Because they were unqualified men and women, they did not have within their capacity to accomplish the task that Jesus set before them.  He knew, if left to themselves, they would fail.  So he said, “wait.”  “Wait for my strength, my timing, my power.”

This is a difficult passage for me.  I don’t wait.  When something needs to get done, I’m usually the first to say, “I’ll do it!”  Not because I have an unusually strong work ethic but because I’m prideful.  First, I often identify myself by the things that I am able to do and accomplish.  Second, I often think I’m more qualified and capable than I really am.  Third, I’m impatient and don’t like to wait.

What these men and women were instructed to do was wait on Christ to fill them with what they were lacking.  For the Type A personality in the room, it was probably killing him.  For the go getter of the group… she was probably tapping her feet up and down wondering why they’re all in the room rather than in the streets preaching the gospel of Christ.

How many of us find ourselves moving when God says, “wait?”  How many of us assume we’re qualified and capable when in reality we know we’re not?

Throughout Jesus’ ministry he was constantly reminding the disciples, “this isn’t about you and what you can do, it’s about me and what I’m going to do”.  

For many of us, our personality wants to take things into our own hands.  We see something that needs to be done… we get a vision from God… and then we move before hearing any other instruction.  We’re presumptuous in our understanding of our own strength and often we forget that we may be lacking in ways that only the Spirit of God can fill.

I’m not saying that in every situation we should sit and wait.  Sometimes God is calling us to act immediately, but he usually makes those moments clear.  What I am saying is we should assess each aspect of our lives and examine the things we may have been doing in our own strength, out of haste and pride.

In our families, we are tempted to raise our kids on our own… God gave them to us and makes promises to us if we would just surrender our children to him.  But rather we work and exhaust ourselves raising children in our own strength and wonder why our marriage is falling apart.

In our work we exhaust ourselves to no end only to leave our spouse and children at home wondering if our first love is our job.  As if everything would fall apart without us.

God gave his people a command to work six days a week and on the seventh day, rest.  Why?  Because there’s a rhythm to life and relationship with God.  We work and then we rest.  He restores us and we work again.  There’s a time each week that God made clear… “you need to rest in me.  Be dependent on me.  Don’t make this about you, make this about me.”

We live in a world and culture that makes everything about “me”.  It’s a consumer world that’s really no different than what Adam and Eve experienced when they ate from the tree that would make them like God.

That’s really our struggle.  We want to be our own god.  We want to be like God.  So we throw the responsibility of God on our shoulders and we work as if our world would stop spinning if we sat down for a moment.  All the while, Christ is saying, “cast your cares and burdens on me, I’m capable.”

What a freedom Christ offers us!  What a freedom he offered the men and women that would change the world through the church with the gospel.  It wasn’t on their shoulders, it’s on Christ’s.  It’s not on your shoulders, it’s on Christ’s.

1. What aspects of your life have you taken the responsibility and weight from Christ and put it on our own shoulders?

2. What relationships need mending because you were operating in your own strength only to leave it more broken than when it started?

3. What task has God set before you that you feel unqualified for?  Ask him for the power of the Spirit to fill your life.  You know, that’s the same power that raised Christ from the dead, and now Christ offers it to you.

For more info on Pentecost (Festival of Weeks) click here.