What you need to know:
- Since its date depends on the date of Easter, Pentecost is a moveable feast, that is, the date is not fixed. It commemorates the descent of the Holy Spirit on the Apostles and other followers of Jesus while they were in Jerusalem celebrating the Feast of Weeks, writes Sylvia Mwesigye.
Last Sunday was a day of celebration for all Christendom in remembrance of the day of Pentecost. In Acts 1:18 Jesus tells His disciples, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere - in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” This came to pass during the Jewish festival of first fruits which was celebrated in Jerusalem and attracted devout Jews from all over the world. Undoubtedly the day of Pentecost was divinely set because it helped bring more clarity to the person of the Christ. Remember, by this time Jesus had already been crucified.
At the time, crucifixion was the commonest form of punishment for criminals in Roman occupied Palestine. Although Jesus had risen from the dead and ascended to heaven thus distinguishing Himself from the others that had been crucified like Him, debate still raged whether He was truly the long awaited messiah. So, the coming of the Holy Spirit which was witnessed by thousands of people went a long way in confirming to the doubters of Jesus’ true identity and reaffirming the faith of the believers. It was also a great thing because when the disciples started speaking in tongues unintelligible to them there were visitors who understood those langauges and were able to interpret the good news of Jesus’ death which absolves man’s sin and reconciles him with the father.
Fishers of men
We see Peter who in John 21:1-3 had already made a decision to go back to the familiar life of fishing, taking to the pulpit for the first time and he never looks back until he is martyred in Rome. So, it is safe to assume that without the coming of the Holy Spirit there would be no church today. As Jesus had promised, the Holy Spirit gave the disciples the courage to come out of hiding and start preaching the good news in Jerusalem, Judea ad to the ends of the earth. It also gave them insight into the things Jesus had told them before. So when the persecution started, they were more than ready to remain steadfast and continue spreading the gospel. They gained special knowledge to understand and interpret scripture and explain the role of Jesus in God’s salvation plan.
Later on, when the disciples understood again through the Holy Spirit that Jesus would not be returning during their lifetimes, they started recording everything they had heard and learnt from their master thus giving us the New Testament. The Holy Spirit also helped the disciples and later the apostles such as Paul to formulate a new constitution separate from Judaism and the law for Christians, as seen in the Apostle’s creed and also the Nicene Creed.
Who is the Holy Spirit
The Holy Spirit was also a source of comfort in the very difficult period of the early church when being a Christian meant breaking the law which was punishable by death. Until the conversion of Emperor Constantine who legalised Christianity. Constantine I (Flavius Valerius Constantinus) was Roman emperor from 306-337 CE and is known to history as Constantine the Great for his conversion to Christianity in 312 CE and his subsequent Christianization of the Roman Empire. His conversion was motivated in part by a vision he experienced at the Battle of the Milvian Bridge in Rome in 312 CE. During his reign Christianity blossomed and spread far and wide because of the protection accorded the church by this mighty ruler.
As Christians today, we celebrate the Holy Spirit for even today he is dwells within us and we are his temple. Let us embrace the marvelous fruits that he bears within us, the greatest being love. The love of God and of our neighbour particularly those in need especially now when the country is going through economic hardship. Please support the small businesses in your neighbourhood. When you take the taxi and are able to, help that passenger who is getting accosted by the conductor. Do not forget to tip your waiter and when you visit a friend or attend a party do not go empty-handed.
Don’t give up easily
The day of Pentecost also reminds us not to give up so easily when things in our lives do not go as expected. Just like Peter would have missed his calling had he continued with his plan of returning to the sea, when we waver because of challenges we risk missing the greatness God has put in our destiny.
As Jesus urges us to ask the father for what we do not have, let us ask for our lives to be filled with gifts of the Holy Spirit which include wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and fear of God.