Sunday, May 19, we celebrated Pentecost in our Western churches.
Why do we call it Pentecost?
Well, it seems that with the Greek culture and language the Jewish Feast of the Weeks was named Pentecost, that is, the fiftieth day after the Feast of the Firstfruits, that is, Easter. It really comes at 7 weeks plus one day from Easter.
After Christmas and Easter, Pentecost may be the most significant event of the church calendar: the pouring of the Holy Spirit, or, as some like to say, the birthday of the church. It is nevertheless the most important fulfillment of God’s promise to put his Spirit within us, to have our young and old people see visions and prophecy.
Leviticus 23 is a wonderful chapter that lays out the seven Jewish feasts, and in a way it lays out the life of Christ, who fulfills them. Looking at only three of them, let’s look how Christ fulfills them.
1. The Passover. It was a day during the week, when the Jewish families took the passover lamb and celebrated the libration of their ancestors from Egyptian captivity. Before his arrest Jesus celebrates the passover with his disciples, and tells them that he’s going to be arrested and crucified. He becomes indeed the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. His death on the cross is the ultimate fulfillment of the Passover.
2. The Feast of the Firstfruits. On the first day of the week after the Passover this feast marked the beginning of the harvest season. It included a wave offering of a sheaf of wheat or barley. The first day of the week is the day of Christ’s resurrection. He is the firstborn from the dead, Colossians 1:18, and the firstfruit of the new creation.
3. The Feast of the Weeks came again on Sunday, the first day of the week, seven weeks plus one day after the Feast of the Firstfruits. At this time the Jews offered a wave offering of two loaves of leaven bread, as a symbol of the end of the harvest. The Jews also thanked God for the giving of the law and there was a renewal of the covenant linked with the same feast. In Christ we have the pouring of the Spirit, which is the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies that God will pour out his Spirit, and place his Spirit within us.
What can be more uplifting than to know that the Third Person of the Godhead, the Holy Spirit, lives and fills us?
God in us the hope of glory! And this is the gift of the Pentecost.