In my first blog I wrote about the first Pentecost and how it was received by people. Let’s continue exploring this topic in more detail.
Christ ‘reappeared’ on the main stage through His Spirit as He said He would. He spoke openly to the disciples about this event, which He knew was coming. He had foreknowledge of the event that would take place 10 days after He had returned to the Father. Jesus made it very clear that the promise of the Holy Spirit was not something weird or to be feared. No, it was part of the original plan all along. Yet, to understand this, we need to understand general context of the bible very well to even grasp what Pentecost is really about.
To make this very simple I will show in the following events that are just as big as Pentecost that the Holy Spirit play s a very, very important role. Let me tell you in 6 scenes the bigger story of mankind. Pentecost is only one part of that and we need to understand the bigger picture to also understand and even appreciate Pentecost correctly.
SCENE 1 – CREATION
When God created the world, it was good. When God created man (=Adam) He even said it was very good. Out of the dust of the earth God breathed life into Adam and became a Spirited being. People are in this sense a spirited body. Our essence is that we are spiritual because we are spirits with a body. These spirits were given by God and form the very nature of being alive. We live to have a living relationship with God and we can because God has given us His Spirit. That’s why we can even connect with Him in the first place when we are born again (more later about this). Adam and Eve lived in perfect harmony with their Creator and there was no shame, even though they were naked. They were God-conscious and son/daughter-conscious as they lived in perfect relationship without sin. It’s imagery of communion and oneness in Him. It’s intimate, perfect and holy.
SCENE 2 – FALL
The Bible speaks of the Garden of Eden. It was this idyllic place of peace and bliss where Adam and Eve could enjoy creation to the fullest. Yet, the Bible also speaks of a major event that changed the game big time. It’s called the Fall of men when they disobeyed God by eating from the very tree that God had forbidden them to eat from. The commandment was given to Adam, yet Eve was seduced by Satan through the serpent to do what was not lawful. The enticing picture of divine knowledge presented in a very seductive way, led first Eve and later Adam to believe in the lie that they were missing out on something. The endgame was horrible. When they chose knowledge (of good and evil) over relationship with God, part of what the serpent told them became a reality. Their eyes were really opened and they really knew the difference between good and evil. Before that event, they lived in total innocence.
God said that the day they’d eat from that tree they would surely die. When they ate, they didn’t drop dead instantly, so that tells me something. It tells me that what actually died was not the physical aspect. At least not immediately, although also physical death would become a new reality to Adam and Eve years later. No, what died in the garden was the spiritual connection with God as they, willingly, cut themselves off from the very source of love and life. In that sense people became self-conscious (shame and self-preservation) and sin-conscious (hiding from God).
SCENE 3 – PROMISE
Yet God is still God! He is still on the throne and this whole incident did not catch Him off guard. Immediately He promises both Adam and Eve on the one hand and Satan on the other hand a very important thing. From the seed of Adam would come forth someone – we now know as Jesus – who would reverse this curse of sin, although it would come with a very high price.
Genesis 3:15 says it like this:
And I will put enmity between you and the woman and between your seed and her Seed. He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel.
Basically, God was already making an astounding promise that one day evil would be overcome by someone who would crush it once and for all, but it would come also at a very high price. This person would need to suffer severely, yet in the process Satan would be defeated and sin would be crushed.
This promise of an heir that would one day crush the enemy is the most important theme of the book of Genesis. That’s why you see how Satan tries to prevent this seed from ever coming to life. Sarai was infertile and could not have children for a long time. Yet, God promised to Abram and Sarai that through them one day someone would come that would break the curse that destroyed the intimate relationship with God ever since Adam and Eve sinned.
SCENE 4 – PRESENCE
When the promise was finally fulfilled in the arrival of Jesus, something amazing happened. As time progressed, it became clear that God never lost sight of the original plan He had when He created Adam. Intimacy and relationship were displayed in Jesus’ life and ministry as He modelled to His disciples what it meant to live in fellowship with the Father. Three times Jesus was tempted by the devil while He was fasting for 40 days. It was a picture of the New Man, Jesus, representing the New Life in God, doing it right this time. While reading Matthew 4:1-11 and comparing it to the Wilderness experience of Israel in their ‘spiritual desert’, we cannot help but to compare both experiences. Jesus was tempted with bread (provision), security and power as the Israelites were also tempted with the same things. Yet, Jesus conquered, while the Israelites hopelessly failed.
Yet, Jesus was a man, like you and me, representing us before God. He was God in the flesh doing the perfect will of God. Yet, He was able to do that because He, as a man, was empowered to do that. That’s why Jesus said that from Himself (being only a man) He could not do anything.
So, even before the scene in Matthew 4 of the temptation in the wilderness Jesus was first immersed into the Spirit through baptism. Yes, of course He was God, but He was God in the flesh. Philippians 2:7 says this: ‘but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men.’
It wasn’t that He ceased to be God. Rather, He voluntarily ‘limited’ Himself by becoming a man like you and me, so that He could truly live like you and me. This way He could really represent us. He was one of us.
Why do I say this? Well, it will set the scene to understand Pentecost better. After all, this study is about that big event that changed the course of history forever.
In the next blog I will deal with how Jesus’ Ministry and the ministry of the apostles changed world history as we know it.