John 15:26-27, 16:4b-15
“We Will Testify to Love”
Today we celebrate Pentecost as a festival of the Christian church. The roots of Pentecost however, predate the events of Acts chapter 2, as Pentecost was one of three major pilgrimage festivals in Judaism. In today’s reading from the Book of Acts, there were “devout Jews from every nation under heaven” gathered in Jerusalem because they had all come for the great pilgrimage festival of Pentecost.
The name “Pentecost” is derived from the Greek prefix pente – meaning “five” or “fifty.” According to Deuteronomy 16, this festival (which was sometimes called the “Festival of Weeks”) took place fifty days after Passover. It marked the completion of the grain harvest that came in late spring. In later Judaism, Pentecost also became a time when the people celebrated God’s giving of the Law on Mount Sinai, thus creating a new covenant community.
But on the first Pentecost after Jesus’ death, resurrection, and ascension into heaven, something spectacular happened that transformed the meaning of that festival for followers of Jesus and established an important Christian celebration for centuries to come:
“When the day of Pentecost had come, [Jesus’ disciples] were all together in one place. And suddenly from … Read more »