John 15: 26-27
Emmanuel, God with us. He who resided in Heaven, co-equal and co-eternal with the Father and the Spirit, willingly descended into our world. He breathed our air, felt our pain, knew our sorrows, and died for our sins. He didn’t come to frighten us, but to show us the way to warmth and safety. However, Emmanuel (God with us) doesn’t end, for the Holy Spirit on Pentecost comes and remains with us forever.
The importance of the Holy Spirit is shown not only in events, but also in the frequency of his mention in the Bible: 142 times under 15 different names in the Old Testament, 256 times under 7 different names in the New Testament.
Noting the Holy Spirit’s prominence in the Bible: 398 references.
Of the trinity of God (Father, Son & Holy Spirit) it is the Holy Spirit that is least understood and least appreciated. When Walter Wangerin was pastor of an inter-city church in Evansville, Indiana: Lillian Lander, an old black woman, would shake his hand each Sunday after services, lining up with everyone else and waiting her turn. She was short. Always he had to look down in order to find her. She was soft-spoken. Always he had to bow down in order to hear her. She was inner-city and self-educated, as was most of the parish then; but she chose her words with particular care, and always I weighed those words to find their value. Some Sundays she would say, “You taught us today, pastor.” Other Sundays she said, “Hooo!” and “Mm-hmmmm! How you did preach!” So, I stopped her one Sunday, holding tight to her hand. “Lillian,” I said, “sometimes you say I teach.” ‘Mmmmm-hmm.’ “And sometimes you say I preach.” ‘Mmm-hmmm.’
“Is there a difference?” She gazed at Wangerin a moment as though to say, “Didn’t they tell you in the seminary?” “When you teach, I learn somethin’ for the day. I can take it home, and I can do it.” She paused. “But when you preach, God is here. God is holding us. And sometime he smilin’. And sometime he be frownin’, surely.”
In the 15th Chapter of John, Jesus talks words of comfort with His Disciples who know that they are hated by the world. “When the Counselor comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father, he will testify about me. It is interesting that John records this, for a little later in John 20:22, John will tell us something different. The issue is the difference between the “pre-resurrected Christ” and the “post-resurrected Christ.” Jesus said, As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.
The festival is called the feast of Weeks because it was celebrated seven complete weeks, or fifty days, after the Passover. The Scriptures do not clearly attach any historical significance to this festival but seem to teach that Pentecost owes its origin to the harvest that terminated at this time.
Pentecost would take place 50 days following the Passover. The Resurrection (Easter) came 3 days after the Passover. The Ascension came 40 days after the Resurrection or 43 days after the Passover. Then Pentecost came one week after the Ascension.
God has always been present with His children. When someone understands the truth about Christ, it is always a divine miracle. Remember Peter’s great confession? Jesus asked, “Who do you say that I am?” and Peter answered, “Thou art the Christ, the son of the living God.” How did he know? Jesus said, “Flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.” There is no way to recognize Jesus Christ for who He is except though a miracle of God to open spiritually blind eyes. But when Christ opens the eyes of a soul, suddenly truth becomes recognizable.
“Every time we say, “I believe in the Holy Spirit,” we mean that we believe that there is a living God able and willing to enter human personality and change it. Many people quench the Spirit by being down in the mouth rather than rejoicing, by planning rather than praying, by murmuring rather than giving thanks, and by worrying instead of trusting in him who is faithful. From Acts 12:2 we know that Herod beheaded the apostle James, brother of John, but do you know the rest of this story? James was the first apostle to suffer death after the martyrdom of Stephen. Although Herod was the authority that took his head, James’ fate started when a nameless individual brought charges against him before the tribunal. When the case was over and James had been condemned to death, this man who had instigated the trial was deeply moved by the behavior and countenance of the apostle. James was so filled with the Spirit of God that on the way to the place of execution, the one who had initiated the charges against him made a confession of faith in Christ. When he asked James to forgive him, the apostle said, “Peace be to thee, brother.” James then kissed him and both men were beheaded for their faith in A.D. 36. A Spirit-filled life may lead to physical death, but more importantly, it always leads to eternal life.
Dr. Raymond Edmond of Wheaton College had not been in Uruguay as a missionary very long when he became deathly sick. In fact, the Uruguay nationals had his grave dug, and were waiting close by to take his body away. Suddenly, Dr. Edmund sat up in bed. He called to his wife, “Bring me my clothes. I’m getting up!” He had instantly recovered and nobody knew what had happened or what had caused his recuperation. Many years later he was retelling the story of this remarkable recovery to a church in Boston. After the service, a little old lady with a small dog-eared, beaten-up old Prayer Book came up to him. She said, “What day did you say you were dying in Uruguay? What time would it have been in Boston?” They figured it would have been 2:00 A.M. on a specific date. Her wrinkled face lit up. Pointing to her book, she exclaimed, “There it is, you see? At 2:00 A. M. on that date, God said to me, ‘Get up and pray — the devil’s trying to kill Raymond Edmund in Uruguay!'”
Bob Mumford, in “Take Another Look at Guidance”, compares discovering God’s will with a sea captain’s docking procedure: A certain harbor in Italy can be reached only by sailing up a narrow channel between dangerous rocks and shoals. Over the years, many ships have been wrecked, and navigation is hazardous. To guide the ships safely into port, three lights have been mounted on three huge poles in the harbor. When the three lights are perfectly lined up and seen as one, the ship can safely proceed up the narrow channel. If the pilot sees two or three lights, he knows he’s off course and in danger.
God has also provided three beacons to guide us. The same rules of navigation apply-the three lights must be lined up before it is safe for us to proceed. The three harbor lights of guidance are: The Word of God (objective standard), The Holy Spirit (subjective witness) Circumstances (divine providence). Together they assure us that the directions we’ve received are from God and will lead us safely along His way.