Happy Birthday Church

A few years ago my wife turned 30.  As every husband should know, a wife’s birthday is a big deal.  And a big one like 30 is one of those where you have to make it a big deal.  Well, let me give you a little background on who my wife is.  She is one of the best planners and gift givers I have ever seen.  Gifts is her love language.  My first day here, some Tiff’s treats were delivered to the office.  Some of you might remember when I shared that warm yummy goodness with you.  Well, you can thank my wife and her incredible ability to surprise me.  I, on the other hand, do not possess that gift.  It seems like every time I have a good idea, I get all giddy and ruin the surprise.

Well, on her 30th, there was no way I was gonna mess this one up.  I had made some big plans.  I had made a reservation at Perry’s steakhouse in downtown Austin, I had also reserved a hotel downtown for us to spend the evening.

In the end, while she spoiled a lot of her birthday, she was grateful for what I had done.

Did you know that the church has a birthday?  That’s right!  We call it the day of Pentecost.  While many people might think that name is reserved for what happened that day, the word Pentecost is actually a greek translation of the Hebrew celebration that took place annually in Israel’s calendar.


Pentecost was a Hebrew festival celebrated 7 weeks after Passover.  It usually fell in the middle of May or early June.  It went by a couple of other names: the feast of weeks, the feast of first fruits.  It marked the first part of the annual harvest when the grain harvest was collected and brought to the temple according to the Mosaic Law as a thanksgiving to God.  It was the first fruits of the annual harvest.  It was one of three annual feasts that required Jewish men to return to Jerusalem.

During the celebration, Jews also commemorated the giving of the Torah at Mt. Sinai believing that during this time God gave Moses the 10 commandments.

As Jesus gave his farewell tour to his disciples and many others of his followers, He gave them some strange instructions.  Of course, we know that He had instructed them in Matthew 28 to make disciples so you would think that as soon as He ascended, the disciples would burst on to the scene sharing the Good News.  Here’s where Christ’s strange instruction happened.  Acts 1:4 says, “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about.”  So, here’s the timeline.  Jesus stuck around after his resurrection for 40 days showing Himself to people and encouraging them, giving final instructions.  Then before He ascends He gives the Great Commission to make disciples of every nation.  However, He also says wait.  

I think there’s three reasons Jesus had them wait.

  1. They were still focused on the wrong priorities.  They were focused on their kingdom, not Jesus’.  Acts 1:6 says that the disciples gathered around Him and asked if now was when He was going to restore the kingdom to Israel.  Seriously!  Three years, the death and resurrection and they still didn’t get that Jesus’ kingdom was not just about them.  In John 14, as Jesus prepares for his death, He explains to the disciples the the role of the Holy Spirit to remind them of everything He has commanded.  
  1. There is no power to fulfill the mission of discipleship without being empowered by the Holy Spirit.  These men have walked and witnessed Jesus power for the last 3 years, yet Jesus was adamant they wait for the Holy Spirit.  If anyone could have walked out and began sharing about Jesus, it was these men.  Yet Jesus is adamant that they wait for the Holy Spirit.
  1. The Holy Spirit gifts us uniquely to fulfill the mission of discipleship.  When the Holy Spirit came upon the disciples, they were given an ability they had never had before.  They spoke in languages they had never spoken before so that all those Jews coming in for the feast of weeks understood in their own language the Gospel message.  It was surprising to them.  It was probably not how they would have done if it was left up to them.

Pentecost was the first fruits of the harvest God was bringing in.  Scripture tells us that 3,000 were added that day to the church and the global church, not just the Jerusalem church, was born.

Just like the Hebrew calendar, God is continually bringing in people to the harvest.  Just like the day of Pentecost, He is using his people to do it.  Three questions to ask yourself: 1. In what areas of my life am I still focused on my own priorities, agendas, or kingdoms?  2. In whose power are you depending, your own or the Holy Spirit’s? 3. What is something you recognize that is unique God is doing around you?