God and man interacted in a direct relationship. However, sin did not dare to face God! And therefore, the Israelites begged Moses to be the go-between them and God. Moses set up the Levites as the mediators, and the Church followed this tradition with the clergy as the “go-between” God and man. On Pentecost, the Holy Spirit took over the role of the mediator. The Holy Spirit became directly available to every person.
Now, Pentecost was not the first time that the Holy Spirit manifested Himself to the world, via one man and even one woman. The Holy Spirit did manifest Himself when He created the world and when He made a man and a woman (Genesis 1:2; 2:7; 2:21-22). The Spirit of God manifested Himself in all those who had special assignments from God like Abraham, Joseph, Moses, Samuel, and many others. We shall discuss this in another chapter. However, the manifestation on Pentecost was for the common man, the beginner, and the disciple. And therefore, the individual could again have direct access to God without any intermediaries. Every human being, who desired and who shall desire the Spirit of Christ, Christ will manifest Himself to that individual. Jesus made it very clear, what the Holy Spirit would do, what He did, and what the Father had sent Him to do. This required, that those who had been with Jesus, had to teach and help the newcomers to observe what the Holy Spirit was reminding the Apostles of what Jesus had taught. After the Holy Spirit prompted able people to put “Christ’s Person” and “Christ’s Teachings” into writing. And henceforth, the Scriptures became the teacher. Therefore, there would be, no doubt, who the “True Spirit” was.
It is very important to note that there was affinity, through the Holy Spirit, in the working together between John Zebedee, Saul, who became Paul, their scribe and Doctor Luke, a Greek. For instance, for Nicodemus, to be born again, it was the “wind and the breath of God” that had to blow into a man (John 3:8). The Holy Spirit was so powerful that He turned humans into children of God (John 1:12). The world was ready to receive the “Message of God” because the Greeks had provided the language, and the Romans provided the lands and the laws, which enabled Paul to proclaim Christ all over the Roman Empire (Galatians 4:4-7). The link between these men, I believe, was John Mark. It was in John Mark mother’s home, where Jesus had His last meal. It also became a home for the dispersed disciples, and for the one hundred-twenty believers from all over the world, in whom the Holy Spirit manifested Himself. The noise and the crashing wind had brought over three thousand curiosity seekers. That very day, these three thousand seekers, after they heard Peter’s sermon in Aramaic, became disciples. All the other recipients of the Holy Spirit did glorify Christ because they knew Greek and they could translate the message into their native language (Acts 2). Both, John and Luke were meticulous in their reporting what Jesus said:
I have yet many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of Truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you (John 16:12-15).
In the first book, O Theophilus, I have dealt with all that Jesus began to do and teach, until the day when he was taken up after he had given commandment through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom he had chosen. To them he presented himself alive after his passion by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days, and speaking of the kingdom of God. And while staying with them he charged them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, “you heard from me, for John baptized with water, but before many days you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 1:1-5).
Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are of God; for many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit (preacher or prophet) which confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, and every spirit which does not confess Jesus is not of God. This is the spirit of antichrist (false Christ-imposter), of which you heard that it was coming, and now it is in the world already. Little children, you are of God, and have overcome them; for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. They are of the world, therefore what they say is of the world, and the world listened to them. We are of God. Whoever knows God listens to us, and he who is not of God does not listen to us. By this we know the Spirit of Truth and the spirit of error (I John 4:1-6).
When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly a sound came from heaven like the rush of a mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them tongues as of fire, distributed and resting on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance (Acts 2:1-4).
On Pentecost, the Holy Spirit Chose One Hundred Twenty New Disciples to take Jesus Home with Them
The Holy Spirit falling and indwelling so many people at once and at the same time was unheard of and it was beyond man’s apprehension. At that time in history, the Hebrew people feared God and they chose to let Moses be their intermediary (Deuteronomy 18:14-22). Then, the high priest became the “go-between” man and God. In Jesus’ day, even Caiaphas, the high priest, believed it (John 11:49-50). Christians believe that Jesus replaced that “go-between” position. And, Jesus has become our Eternal High Priest (Hebrews 8). Now, when Jesus was among men and women, He too mediated between man and God. And therefore, when Jesus returned from the dead, in His “heaven-bound appearance”, the Holy Spirit filled and refilled one hundred and twenty men to meditate on earth. That was one reason why God’s Son had to come to earth to delegate the authority to the men who were willing to let His Spirit fill them; so, that they too could mediate the Good News to their fellowmen. Jesus appointed Peter and the other disciples. And then, Jesus appointed seventy-two more people (Matthew 10; Luke 10). Jesus, Himself, allowed the Holy Spirit to indwell Him before He began to communicate the Good News in words and in deeds and with His Life (Matthew 3:13-17; Luke 4:14-30). So, Jesus did not only have eleven disciples when He left the world, but Jesus had one hundred and twenty disciples, who were ready to be filled with His Spirit and carry “His Redemptive Message” into the world. Thus, every human being, who is ready to allow the Holy Spirit to become a partner, can receive Him and become a disciple of Jesus, who learns to be a witness and teach others. According to the Apostle Paul, who was not present, five hundred should have been there on Pentecost to be filled with power from on high (I Corinthians 15:3-8).
Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven. And at this sound, the multitude came together, and they were bewildered because each one heard them speaking in his own language. And they were amazed and wondered, saying, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each of us in his own native language? Parthians, and Medes and Elamites and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabians, we hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God.” And all were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” But others mocking said, “They are filled with new wine” (Acts 2:5-13).
What did the Holy Spirit do on the First Day of Pentecost?
For a long time, I was misled — believing that heaven was pouring new insight into these one hundred and twenty human beings. No! These people had previous contact with Jesus, while He was in their midst, before and after He arose from the dead. All the Spirit was doing, was refreshing their minds what Jesus had taught, as He had promised (John 16:12-15). Another promise Jesus made was that the disciples would receive power (dunamin–energy) to witness (Acts 1:8). That was precisely what Peter, James, John, Stephen, Philip, and Barnabas received and they immediately began to witness and work fearlessly for Christ. Stephen and James Zebedee were the first to lay down their lives for their faith in Jesus, the Son of God and Christ (Acts 7:54-60; 12:1-5). And thirdly, three thousand people opened their hearts and they were all touched by the Holy Spirit and drawn into the Heavenly Kingdom, just as Jesus had promised. The Father and the Holy Spirit are “One” and the “Same,” and so is the Son and the Father.
Jesus answered the Jews, “Do not murmur among yourselves. No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day. It is written in the prophets, ‘And they shall all be taught by God.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me. Not that anyone has seen the Father except him who is from God; he has seen the Father. Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes has eternal life.
I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. I am the living bread which came down from heaven; if anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread which I shall give for the life of the world is my flesh.”
The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” (John 6:43-52).
Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and we shall be satisfied.” Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and yet you don’t know me, Philip? He who has seen me has seen the Father; how can you say, ‘Show us the Father? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority, but the Father who dwells in me does his works. Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father in me; or else believe me for the sake of the works themselves.
Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do because I go to the Father. Whatever you ask in my name, I will do it, that the Father may be glorified in the Son; if you ask anything in my name, I will do it.
If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will pray the Father, and he will give you another Counselor, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him; you know him, for he dwells with you, and will be in you” (John 14:8-17).
The Public’s Reaction to the Arrival of the Holy Spirit Was and Will Always Remain a Mystery
To the devout Jews, who read the prophets, and particularly Joel 2:28-32, it was a long overdue day in coming. At that time, godliness was at a very low ebb in Israel. It was similar to the days of Samuel and the Judges. God (Spirit) had not revealed Himself until the boy Samuel was ready to receive the message from heaven (I Samuel 3). God has equipped all men and women with a receiver to receive God’s Spirit. However, too many people refuse to believe that such an experience and union, with the divine, is possible. And therefore they regarded those, who had allowed the Holy Spirit into their lives, as being drunkards. Later on, Paul had that problem with the Corinthians and so do we today:
God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. For what person knows a man’s thoughts except the spirit of the man which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is from God, that we might understand the gifts bestowed on us by God. And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who possess the Spirit.
The unspiritual man does not receive the gifts of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. The spiritual man judges all things but is himself to be judged by no one. “For who has known the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.
But I, brethren, could not address you as spiritual men, but as men of the flesh, as babes in Christ. I fed you milk, not solid food; for you were not ready for it; and even yet you are not ready, for you are still of the flesh. For while there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not of the flesh, and behaving like ordinary men? For when one says, “I belong to Paul,” and another, “I belong to Apollos,” are you not merely men (I Corinthians 2:10-3:4)?
On Pentecost, the Holy Spirit, through Peter, proclaimed to the crowd that Jesus was the intended Messiah and the Christ:
But Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice and addressed them, “Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and give ear to my words. For these men are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day; but this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel:
‘And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams; yea, and on my menservants and maidservants in those days I will pour out my Spirit, and they shall prophesy. And I will show wonders in the heaven above and signs on the earth beneath, blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke; the sun shall be turned into darkness and the moon into blood before the day of the Lord comes, the great and manifest day. And it shall be that whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.’
Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs which God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know — this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. But God raised him up, having loosed the pangs of death because it was not possible for him to be held by it. For David says concerning him, ‘I saw the Lord always before me, for he is at my right hand that may not be shaken; therefore my heart was glad, and my tongue rejoiced, moreover, my flesh will dwell in hope. For thou wilt not abandon my soul to Hades, nor let thy Holy One see corruption. Thou hast made known to me the ways of life; thou wilt make me full of gladness with thy presence.’
Brethren, I may say to you confidently of the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. Being, therefore, a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that he would set one of his descendants upon his throne, he foresaw and spoke of the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh see corruption. This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses. Being, therefore, exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this which you see and hear. For David did not ascend into the heavens; but he himself says, ‘The Lord said to my Lord, Sit at my right hand, till I make thy enemies a stool for thy feet.’
Let all the house of Israel, therefore, know assuredly that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified” (Acts 2:14-36).