Today, the church celebrates the solemnity of Pentecost. Today marks exactly 50 days after Easter.
On the solemnity of the Pentecost, the church celebrates the descent of the Holy Spirit on the apostles. Before the ascension of Jesus Christ into heaven, Jesus gives two injunctions to His apostles.
The first injunction was in Acts of the Apostles 1:4. Jesus commands them
“Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John was baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”
Secondly, He tells them in verse 8 of the same chapter Jesus tells them “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
Now the descent of the Spirit of God which we celebrate on the Pentecost is the fulfillment of this promise.
A Little Digest.
Let me digest those statements in a bit. In the first statement, Jesus tells them not to leave Jerusalem yet.
Now we have to understand that in the time of the Passover, Jesus entered the city of Jerusalem on a triumphal entry, which is because many prominent Jewish feasts are celebrated in Jerusalem in which many people from different parts of the country and beyond come to Jerusalem for those feasts.
It was during this feast, that Jesus ate the last supper with his disciples on time, which is like their Passover.
Let us have a little flashback.
In Luke 22:7-23 which is on the day of Unleavened Bread on which the Passover lamb had to be sacrificed, Jesus sent Peter and John to go and make preparations for them to eat the Passover.
Later when the time came, Jesus and his apostles reclined at the table. He said to them, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer” So, He ate the Passover with them earlier.
It was during the feast of this Passover that Jesus was betrayed, arrested, crucified and buried.
It was also during this time that the apostles locked themselves up in fear until Jesus was resurrected. All these things happened in Jerusalem.
During the resurrection, Jesus tells them to go ahead of Him to Galilee where He will meet them. So, it is certain that they later went back to Galilee, because Jesus also later appeared to them by the Sea of Galilee in John 21.
Hence, in Luke 24:51: Jesus leads the eleven remaining disciples to Bethany, a village on the Mount of Olives, and instructs them to remain in Jerusalem until the coming of the Spirit of God: He was later carried up into heaven.
The disciples returned to Jerusalem with great joy. From the account in Acts of the Apostles, the apostles later went straight to the upper room, they were together in prayers, in preparation for the coming of the Spirit of God, the promise of Jesus Christ.
2. When we look at the first and second statements which are;
“Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.“
“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
We shall observe here, that Jesus in a way is revealing that His apostle must be empowered by the Holy Spirit. He is invariably telling them that they need the Holy Spirit. It is like a command. It is like something they must do.
In essence, for them to be able to function properly and effectively, they need the indwelling, anointing and power of the Spirit of God.
In the second statement, Jesus tells them the reason they need the Holy Spirit; which is to receive power, anointing and become living witnesses of the gospel.
Therefore, for them to be able to function properly and effectively, they need the indwelling, anointing and power of the Holy Spirit.
Therefore, the Spirit of God is the power of the Church, for today, the Church of Christ was born. He is also the power of every Christian.
We need the Spirit of God to be able to work effectively as Christians.
The point is that we can never do without the Holy Spirit. We need the Him to be able to function effectively with special anointing and power.
Understanding the Meaning of Pentecost.
Whenever we hear the word “Pentecost”, many people will immediately start thinking of the Holy Spirit. It is good we explain a little bit about the meaning of Pentecost.
The name “Pentecost” comes from two Greek Words “Pente” and “koste’ meaning “the fiftieth day.” It is a Jewish feast known as the Shavuot in Hebrew.
This feast is called the feast of the wheat harvest, which they celebrate 50 days after the feast of the first fruits or the Passover feast.
So, Pentecost comes 50 days or seven weeks after the Passover event. Like the Passover event, people from all the nations and beyond throng to Jerusalem to celebrate the Feast.
It is like a pilgrimage festival, it is another occasion when Jerusalem was filled with pilgrims from many countries.
It was now while the Jews were celebrating this feast that the Spirit of God descended on the apostles.
This is the reason, the first reading says “when the day of Pentecost came”, it was referring to that day, the Jews gathered to celebrate, and lo and behold, the Holy Spirit descended on the apostles.
So, today, the feast of the Pentecost is now linked to the descent of the Spirit of God, since the Holy Spirit chose to come down on the apostles on this day. Today also is seven weeks or 50 days after the Easter celebration.
Understanding An Important Thing About the Holy Spirit
Whenever we hear about Holy Spirit, so many things immediately come to our mind. Sometimes we immediately begin to think of somebody who will be making us speak in tongues.
Some people think that when the Spirit of God comes upon you, you begin to make some sounds and noises, jumping up and down. Though the Holy Spirit manifests in different ways, He is deeper than this. We cannot limit Him only to speaking in tongues.
What truly comes to your mind whenever you think about the Spirit of God? Some Christians also see the Holy Spirit only as power, a kind of spiritual force or somebody that will make them jump from one place to another shouting.
It is time we have to know what the Spirit of God truly needs. We have to know that He is more than an impersonal force or power or a kind of gravity.
The first point we have to understand about the Spirit of God is that He is also a person. As a person, He wants us to know Him and have a communion with Him. The Holy needs more of our relationship.
In 2 Corinthians 13:14, Paul says “May The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit, be with you all”.
Therefore, He needs our communion. Communion means ‘the sharing or exchanging of intimate thoughts and feelings, especially when the exchange is on a mental or spiritual level.”
When we hear about the Holy Spirit, it is not only about where we go and seek power, gifts and speaking in tongues.
We have to understand that as a Person, the Holy Spirit is interested in Us.
He also communicates, He needs our relationship and bond. He needs those that will have a relationship with Him. When we call Him greater things always happen. The Spirit of God is sometimes neglected by many Christians.
They focus only on Jesus and the Father. The Holy Spirit is a very important person of the Trinity. I encourage us to develop a personal relationship with Him, we shall never regret it.
We need the Holy Spirit.
When we critically reflect on the reason Jesus asks the disciples not to leave Jerusalem until they are clothed with the power of the Holy Spirit, we will understand that there is a need for every Christian to be so united with the Holy Spirit.
The disciples of Jesus have stayed with Him for a long time. I believe they have learnt a lot from Jesus yet Jesus did not allow them to just enter into the world and start preaching.
He knew there is something that remains which is the indwelling of the Spirit of God. Before, let us also take time and go through the scriptures to ascertain the need to be possessed by the Spirit of God.
1. In The introductory part of the first creation story in the book of Genesis, the scripture says that in the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.
The earth was formless, empty and darkness filled the earth. Then there comes the Spirit of God hovering over the waters (Genesis 1:1-2).
This statement about the Spirit of God was immediately followed by the creation.
Before the mention of the Spirit of God, it was stipulated that the earth was filled with darkness, but immediately the Spirit was mentioned, and then came a creative act.
The author invariably tells us that the presence of the Spirit of God was very important during creation. God did not create without His Spirit.
2. In the book of Numbers 11:16-25, God told Moses to bring 70 elders to the tent of the meeting so that He can take the Spirit that is Him and put it in them.
The Spirit will anoint them and give them the power to carry the burdens of the people. When the spirit of God rested on them, they prophesied. They needed the indwelling of the Spirit of God to be able to function effectively.
3. Before the anointing of Saul as King, God allowed His Spirit to rest Later, the same Spirit of God came upon Saul and caused him to prophesy (see 1 Samuel 10:10). Saul started to misbehave when the Spirit of God left Him.
4. In the book of Psalms, David prays to God not to take away His Spirit from Him. He knows He needed the power of the Spirit of God for Him to function effectively. He says “Take not thy Holy Spirit from me” (Psalm 51:11).
5. In Luke 1:35 during the annunciation, the Blessed Virgin asks the angel how the message would happen since she is a virgin. The angel tells her immediately that the Holy Spirit is the secret. He makes every impossible thing possible.
6. Even Jesus did not work without the Holy Spirit. The Spirit of God was present during His baptism. Then in Luke 4:18 He stood in the synagogue and told his hearers that the Spirit of the Lord is upon Him. He has anointed Him for the ministry He is going to undertake.
Remember what happened when the He healed a demon-possessed man who was also blind and deaf?
The Pharisees accused Him of using Satan’s power to perform such a miracle. Jesus, who knew their thoughts, declared that He “cast out devils by the Spirit of God” (Matthew 12:28).
7. Then in Luke 24:48-49, Jesus warns His disciples never to leave the city of Jerusalem until they are clothed with the power from High.
There are more references to this. Hence, we choose these few to ascertain the importance and the need for us to have a bond and indwelling of the Spirit of God.
Without the Spirit of God.
Without the Spirit of God, the apostles were afraid, faithless, powerless and restless. But when the Spirit of God came, everything changed. Also, without the Spirit of God, we are powerless and restless. Without the Spirit of God, we shall always find it hard to pray. We need the Holy Spirit.
Today, the Church cannot also work without the Holy Spirit. Without the Spirit of God, the church is nothing.
In every sacrament she celebrates there is always an invocation of the Holy Spirit. This is specifically noted during the Consecration.
The priest invokes the Spirit of God to turn the sacred species into the body and blood of Jesus Christ. In the sacrament of the Holy orders, there is a special invocation and prayer to the Spirit of God accompanied by the imposition of hands, without which there is no ordination.
These stipulate that if God needs His spirit to create, if the Old Testament patriarchs, the prophets and the kings need a special anointing of the Spirit of God to work, if David can beg for it, if Jesus openly affirmed that He is working with Him, if the apostles and the Church need this Powerful Spirit, then what do you think? We need the Holy Spirit.
Without the Spirit of God, there is a lack. Without the Holy Spirit, we are just a noisy gong. Also without the Him, we are like anyhow Christians.
This goes beyond just being a member of the church. What we talk about is deep and true communion and relationship with the Spirit of God.
Until we walk with the Spirit of God we may not find meaning in whatever we do or what we are as Christians. It is the Spirit of God that will give you that burning desire for souls.
It is the Spirit of God that will give you that hunger to always approach the presence of God. When we function under the power and influence of this mighty spirit of God, there is power, anointing, holiness, transformation and change.
The Reason We Need the Holy Spirit.
1. In John 16:7, Jesus promises His disciples that he will not abandon them. He would ask the Father to send them the helper, the Advocate.
What happened today during the Pentecost is the fulfilment of that promise. He says that the Spirit of God would be with them forever.
Therefore, the promise of Jesus Christ never to abandon us is fully achieved through this powerful indwelling. To fully experience the abiding presence of God, we need the Holy Spirit.
We need the Spirit of God to fully experience that powerful presence of God. If you call Him, He will always come. Therefore, as Christians, we are not alone.
2. Before any prayer, the Church always begins with the invocation of the Spirit with “Come Holy Spirit and fill the hearts of the faithful”. So, We need the connection with the Spirit to help us pray effectively.
Before the Pentecost experience, the apostles could not heal a pin but after the empowerment by the Spirit of God, even their shadows became a contact for healing.
The Spirit of God is the power of the Church. He makes our prayers highly effective.
In Romans 8:26-27, the scripture says that we do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit of God intercedes for us through a wordless groan. And He who searches our hearts knows the mind of the spirit because the Spirit of God intercedes for God’s people by the will of God.
3. We need the Spirit of God to fully understand more of the mysteries of God. Though Jesus had taught His disciples a lot of things, He still tells them that the Holy Spirit would help them understand more. He says to them “The Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you” (John 14:26).
Therefore, we need the Holy Spirit to fully understand the ways of God. We need Him to teach us some of the secrets of the kingdom. Also, we need the Holy Spirit to understand very well the word of God.
I once read that the great writer Fulton Sheen always prays for the enlightenment from the Spirit of God.
Fulton Sheen today is a powerful writer whose books have touched thousands of souls. We need the Holy Spirit. We cannot do without the Holy Spirit.
4. We need the Spirit of God to become living witnesses of the gospel. The Holy Spirit gives us the power to be witnesses.
In Acts 1:8, Jesus says to them “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth. If they need the Holy Spirit to do this, that means the secret of being a strong witness of the gospel of Jesus Christ is through a relationship with the Holy Spirit.
5. Before the descent of the Holy Spirit, the apostles of Jesus were living in fear. After the descent of the Holy Spirit, there was a change.
Therefore, the Spirit of God s the secret of transformation. If you truly want your spiritual life to change, you need the Holy Spirit.
We need the Holy Spirit in every aspect of our lives. The presence of the Holy Spirit in every aspect of our lives brings change and total transformation. You will operate in a different realm: “not in the realm of the flesh” but “in the realm of the Spirit” (Romans 8:9).
6. We need the Holy Spirit because the Spirit of God empowers us against the enemy. The devil is not scared of us, but he is always terrified of who is living within us.
In 1 John 4:4, Jesus says “You are of God, little children, and have overcome them because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world”. The Holy Spirit within us is far more powerful than the devil. We need the Holy Spirit. You need the Holy Spirit. The world needs the Holy Spirit.
7. We need the Spirit of God to be holy. The will of God is that we should be holy, charitable, peaceful, faithful and joyful even in the time of suffering.
In times of faith-challenging situations, temptations to sin, and weakness of the flesh, the power of the Holy Spirit will always be there to strengthen us.
The Holy Spirit is the secret of anointing, the secret of holiness, power, gifts and effective leadership. There is no regret in a life deeply rooted in the spirit of God.
1. Before the Spirit of God dwells on the apostles today, He didn’t come by chance nor by accident. There was a preparation for Him. The apostles prayed, expected and hoped for the advent and the Holy Spirit did not disappoint them. Therefore, to encounter this powerful Presence, we have to get ready and prepare for His coming.
This is why the church in her wisdom encourages a nine-day novena to the Holy Spirit before the Pentecost. If you desire to encounter the Holy Spirit, you have to show your hunger for Him and pray for His indwelling. He will not also disappoint. Whoever calls the Holy Spirit, He also answers.
The Holy Spirit is always willing to have a relationship with us. Let us seek Him. We have to desire Him so that we can also have a wonderful experience like the apostles.
We need the Holy Spirit. When the Holy Spirit comes, our lives will change. Instead of seeking Him, many Christians today have neglected the Holy Spirit in many ways. Many people now fake the gifts of the Holy Spirit and use them to dupe people of their hard-earned money.
Many self-acclaimed ministers give fake prophecies to entangle their gullible followers. Instead of allowing the Holy Spirit to do His work, they have taken the position of the Holy Spirit. That is why sometimes, it looks as if what we do is not real.
4. In Ephesians 5:18 Saint Paul says “Do not fill yourself with wine excessively. The drunken path is a reckless path. It leads nowhere. Instead, let God fill you with the Holy Spirit”.
But instead of seeking the anointing and indwelling of the Holy Spirit, we seek the indwelling of sin. We have become so unworthy of His presence.
Sometimes, we do not even appreciate the gifts of the Holy Spirit God blesses us with. We misuse these gifts and sometimes use them for our aggrandizement. There are so many aberrations Christians commit today in the name of the Spirit of God. We now act as the Holy Spirit and perform fake miracles, disguising them as the power of the Spirit of God.
Sometimes, we have profaned the presence of the Holy Spirit in ourselves and others through sinful living and desires, thoughts and actions. This is a time to seek the Spirit of God with our whole hearts.
5. Like the apostles, when the Holy Spirit comes into our lives, He will surely transform us. As the Holy Spirit empowers the apostles, He will surely empower us through His indwelling.
The fire of the Holy Spirit purifies, changes and cleanses every evil. Therefore, we need this flame of love where there is hatred. We need this fire in souls that have lost faith in God, those who have abandoned God and hearts that are darkened in sin and sickness.
6. We need the light of the Holy Spirit to shine in the hearts of those who no longer see human beings as being created in God’s image that they kill as if human beings are chickens.
We need this light to shine in the hearts of those who have refused repentance, those who only go to church for the sake of going and hearts that have hated the gospel, dejected Jesus and neglected God.
When the Holy Spirit takes absolute control of these people, there must be a change.
May we experience the anointing of the Holy Spirit today. Amen.