Pentecost : the feast of fruitfulness

The Holy Spirit came on the 120 as they waited and prayed. They were there because of Jesus’ command, which we find a little earlier in Luke’s account. As they prayed, the Holy Spirit came and they all began to speak in new languages, so much so, that people around them noticed (there were 120 of them after all!), and Peter (full of the Holy Spirit and power) began to preach to them about Jesus.

So what was this Day of Pentecost? Though many God-fearing foreigners lived in Jerusalem, why were there so many people in town on this day? In Leviticus 23.4-6 we find the first of the three great annual festivals, the Passover. The next of the three, great festivals, which we call Pentecost, is described in verses 15-21.

And from the day after the sabbath, from the day on which you bring the sheaf of the elevation offering, you shall count off seven weeks; they shall be complete. [… that’s 49 days after the Passover Sabbath] You shall count until the day after the seventh sabbath, fifty days; then you shall present an offering of new grain to the LORD. You shall bring from your settlements two loaves of bread as an elevation offering, each made of two-tenths of an ephah; they shall be of choice flour, baked with leaven, as first fruits to the LORD. [18 -19 … the Bread was presented with animal sacrifices for sin and well being.] . . . The priest shall raise them [that is the animal sacrifices] with the bread of the first fruits as an elevation offering before the LORD, together with the two lambs; they shall be holy to the LORD for the priest. On that same day you shall make proclamation; you shall hold a holy convocation; you shall not work at your occupations. This is a statute forever in all your settlements throughout your generations.

(There was also a third feast, the greatest one, the seventh month where the Great Day of Atonement, on which all the sins were done way with, was proclaimed with the blowing of trumpets and followed by a week of dwelling together in peace. (verses 23-43))

So the day of Pentecost (Pentecost of course referring to the fifty days since passover) was the day of the feast of first fruits. … and people from all over Palestine and from everywhere where there were Jews were in Jerusalem to celebrate. This was the day when bread made from the first wheat of the harvest was presented to honor the Lord, and lifted up in his presence in the Temple. The Holy Spirit came on the followers of Jesus on the feast of first fruits. They were baptized with the Spirit and with fire on a day dedicated to thanking God for the new harvest.

In Romans 8.23, salvation is described as the first fruits of the work of the Holy Spirit in us. In I Cor. 15:20, Jesus is described as the first fruit of those who are died and who will rise again. The Holy Spirit has been given to us to enable us to be fruitful. In the passage Acts 2, Peter quotes God’s declaration to Joel, that he would pour out his Spirit upon all flesh, so that our sons and your daughters would prophesy, our young men would see visions, and our old men would dream dreams. The Spirit makes things happen in our lives. The Spirit produces fruit.

Sometimes I think we are reluctant to ask God for His Sprit, thinking that it might be a little selfish. But the Lord wants us to be filled to overflowing so that we can be richly fruitful with good things to bless him and bless others, as well as ourselves (though He intend us to be blessed also).

What are some ways in which being filled with the Holy Spirit of God makes it possible for us to be more fruitful, to produce good things, to be abundant in life, and to enjoy his abundant life?

Here are four suggestions.

  1. Galatians 5:22-3 tells of the fruit of the Spirit, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. In summary, Christlikeness, the Holy Spirit helps us to be more like Christ, and to show love, faith and hope, the greatest of which is love.
  2. The Holy Spirit makes us fruitful thorough building up one another in the faith, especially through ministry of the word and gifts of the Spirit I Cor 14:26 What should be done then, my friends? When you come together, each one has a hymn, a lesson, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation. Let all things be done for building up.
  3. The Holy Spirit makes us fruitful in charity and good works. It’s interesting that after describing the feast of first fruits, the second feast, but before going on to the third one, Lev.23.22 says that, “When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap to the very edges of your field, or gather the gleanings of your harvest; you shall leave them for the poor and for the alien: I am the LORD your God.” The fruitfulness of God, is seen in the harvest which comes through our work. But part of the fruits belong not to us only, but to our brothers and sisters and all those in need around us. If we seek to honor God by being productive, then we obey Him by sharing with those in need.
  4. Remember Jesus command in Acts 1:8 “[y]ou will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” On that first day of Pentecost, after Peter, filled with the Spirit, had finished preaching, 3000 people repented and were baptised, the “first fruits”! The Holy Spirit has been poured out, so that there will be a fruitful harvest of soul many people saved, many people added to the Church, many people brought into God’s kingdom, many people healed, many people delivered from hurt and harm, many people baptized, many people filled with God’s precious and mighty Holy Spirit. So this a most important way in which the Holy Spirit helps us to be fruitful – the spreading of the gospel and the harvesting of souls

Fruitfulness in a bountiful harvest brings joy and the praises of the Lord.

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me”, Jesus said in Luke 4:18-19, “because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.”

Jesus ministered because the Spirit of the Lord was upon Him.

Just as the Church received the Holy Spirit at the beginning, so too Jesus was baptised in the Spirit at the begining of his ministry. In quoting from Isaiah he tells us that the reason the Holy Spirit most especially rests on Him is to bring about the fulfilment of His earthly ministry.

So too we need the Spirit of the Lord upon u to bring good news to those poor in money, poor in heart, and poor in spirit, to proclaim release to those captive in body and soul, and recovery of sight to those blind in mind and spirit, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.

Even Jesus needed and received the Holy Spirit. Jesus commanded the early church to receive the power of the Spirit. Though Jesus had already imparted the Spirit to His followers, Jesus commanded them to wait in Jerusalem until they received a further distinct experience of the power of the Spirit, Jesus himself called it being baptized with the Spirit, immersed in the Spirit, saturated by the Spirit.

All of us want to be more like Christ. All of us want to build up one another in the faith. We all would like to be more useful and generous in doing good

We want to be effective in sharing Jesus … we all want to be more fruitful. Let’s then ask the Lord to fill us with His Holy Spirit. We can ask him privately, or we can ask some others to lay hand on us and pray that we might receive the Holy Spirit. Jesus promised in Luke 11:13 that the heavenly Father will give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him.

Almighty God, to whom all hearts are open, all desires known, and from whom no secrets are hidden; cleanse the thoughts of my heart that I make perfectly love you and worthily magnify your holy name, through Christ my Lord. Amen.