After the resurrection of Jesus and right before his ascension into the heavens, he told his disciples to “wait for the Father’s promise”. In other words, “begin expecting that prophetic word by Joel to occur in the near future. That promise as foretold, the one everyone has waited for a long time now, will arrive! Actually, in just a matter of days.”
After he tells them this, they ask him about restoring the Kingdom of God, if he knows when it’ll happen. You see, the Messiah was supposed to do just that. But he didn’t. So they were wondering. Then Jesus said, “You will…” Jesus begins commissioning them.
Jesus did usher something new through his ministry, death and resurrection, but it would be his disciples who would continue his mission. And to do so they would need to be anointed by God, or in other words, authorized by God. Soon, the Spirit of God would come upon them and empower them to do the work of the ministry – to reveal God and declare his works.
About ten days later, on a day known as Pentecost, the disciples and many others gathered together to pray. Now, this day of Pentecost was the last day of a national holiday time where Jews from all over the world would come to the Judean area and celebrate the Festival of Weeks. Pentecost is the fiftieth day from the day of Passover. Traditionally, it is believed it was on the fiftieth day after the liberation of the Jews from Egypt that God gave them the Ten Commandments. Since many came from different lands and countries, these tourists who came for the Festival of Weeks spoke different languages.
That evening, as the disciples and those with them were praying, something supernatural occurred. There was a violent wind and what looked like flames that were divided, the typical image of a flame where there is a divide or a slight dip down the middle with two peaks on both sides, and which also looked like a tongue, appeared on each person. This was symbolic of tongues being empowered. A sign of prophetic ministry.
What happens next is beyond the natural. Keep in mind, these were simple people from the region of Galilee. They spoke Aramaic. All of a sudden, they were baptized by the Spirit and began speaking in other languages. People who came from other nations heard them in their own native language. Some heard them in Hebrew, others in Greek, others in Latin, and etc. From the mouth of one person, several languages were uttered – an empowered tongue, divided – speaking the magnificent acts of God.
When people questioned what was happening, Peter explained that what they were witnessing was the manifestation of the prophetic word as foretold by the prophet Joel. The time has come where God was beginning to pour his Spirit on all people to act as prophets. Ordinary people were empowered and commissioned to declare God’s word.
That day of Pentecost – a time God empowered people to speak in various languages as a sign that the gospel of salvation would now be preached to the ends of the earth – is the day the church was born.
Happy Birthday, Church!