When Jesus died the world that the disciples had constructed in their minds imploded. They had hoped and prayed for a Messiah who would conquer the Romans and restore Israel to political greatness. Instead their Messiah was subjected to the most cruel form of torture and death the Romans could conceive.
They had prayed for a political revolution little dreaming that what they would be offered was a spiritual one.
Mercifully their disappointment was short lived. Jesus rose from the dead three days after they witnessed him dying on a Roman cross. It seemed impossible that anyone should overcome such an appalling death yet Jesus did. Not only did he conquer the grave himself but he conquered the grave on behalf of every human being who would choose to accept him as their Lord and Saviour.
The Messiah the disciples had hoped for never materialised but in his place they found Someone better. A Messiah who offered them hope beyond the grave and a place in eternity.
After spending forty days interacting with his disciples Jesus led them to the Mount of Olives and gave them a parting charge. Jesus’ final commission was twofold; first, in Matthew 28:18-20 he outlined the focal point of his disciples’ mission on earth. “And Jesus came and said to them "all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold I am with you always, to the end of the age”
The great commission laid out the missional direction of the church. The disciples were to form the core of one of the most powerful movements in history. They were to establish God's spiritual kingdom on this earth in preparation for Christ's second coming.
But before they went out to accomplish their mission Jesus instructed them to wait for the special endowment of his spirit. “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8)
The power of the Holy Spirit would be the galvanizing force behind the new movement. In order for the spiritual revolution of God’s kingdom to take root in people's hearts, the disciples would need to be empowered by the spirit. As Jesus himself had said to them during one of his sermons “it is the spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all.” (John 6:63)
In obedience to Jesus’ command the disciples waited and prayed for ten days. Then, ten days after Jesus ascension on the day of Pentecost, the promised outpouring took place. Luke describes it in these words; “When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place and suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind and it filled the entire house where they were sitting and divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them 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)
The Holy Spirit empowered the disciples to speak in different languages and to preach the gospel of Jesus with such power that three thousand people were converted in a day. It was the beginning of the church. The establishment of the first Christian congregation. A small seed that would grow to encompass the entire globe and change the course of history.
Perhaps the most important lesson the story of Pentecost teaches us is the necessity of the Holy Spirit in successful Christian ministry. It is the Holy Spirit that drives the message of the gospel deep into the heart. It is the Holy Spirit that transforms a sinner into a growing disciple of Jesus. It is the Holy Spirit that changes lives and expedites the growth of the church.
If your spiritual life has been feeling less than stellar lately why not ask God to fill you with His spirit? It is the Spirit through the agency of God’s word that revives and transforms. Maybe that is just the boost you need to revive your own flagging spirituality today.