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“The Road to Pentecost”
Last week I made a statement where I said that we have to stop seeking the experience of Pentecost, that is, the experience of the Holy Spirit, and instead we need to seek Pentecost’s or the Holy Spirit’s life changing reality.
As I was looking and thinking about that statement. The Lord laid on my heart that in order to experience Pentecost’s life changing reality and the fullness of the Holy Spirit, we must first experience Gethsemane, Calvary, and the Empty Tomb, and this is what I’d like to talk about today.
And when we think about it, and look at the disciples and their Pentecost experience, they likewise first experienced Gethsemane, Calvary, and the Empty Tomb. So, there is definitely precedence in this whole concept for believers and the church today.
And so, while we all long for Pentecost in our lives and in the church, what we all need to understand and experience is that there is no Pentecost, that is an outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon us and the church, without there first being a Gethsemane, Calvary, and an Empty Tomb.
Further, as I was wondering what to call today’s teaching, at two in the morning, the name came, “The Road to Pentecost.” But as I was praying about it, another name came, and that was, “The Journey to Pentecost.” And I wondered, what’s the difference. And I felt as if the Lord was saying that it isn’t a journey that one takes towards Pentecost, rather it is a road.
You see, a journey looks at the destination, and not so much about how one gets there. That is, there are a multitude of options when it comes to a journey. We can hop on a plane and fly to our destination, or we can drive there, take a bus, a train, a boat, or even walk. But it’s the destination that is the most important.
A road on the other hand has defined parameters and has a definite starting point, and as a person travels on this road there are several stops that are necessary where the traveler gains further perspective and appreciation for the trip and the ending.
And so, there is a definite starting point on this road to Pentecost, and that is Gethsemane, and then afterwards there needs to be stops at Calvary and the Empty Tomb.
But first, let’s take a look at our destination, Pentecost.
What is Pentecost?
It is the fourth feast in what is often referred to as the Feasts of Israel. There are seven feasts found within the Bible: Passover, Unleavened Bread, First Fruits, Pentecost, Trumpets, Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur), and Tabernacles.
Now, while many dismiss these as applicable only to Israel and the Jews, and not to the church, they are actually feasts of the Lord, and they are for His people.
To Moses the Lord said, “Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them: ‘The feasts of the Lord, which you shall proclaim to be holy convocations, these are My feasts.’” (Leviticus 23:2 NKJV)
And then after Moses listed them out, the text ends with these words, “So Moses declared to the children of Israel the feasts of the Lord.” (Leviticus 23:44 NKJV)
Now, why is this important? Well, it’s because these feasts were a foreshadowing of God’s ultimate plan of salvation through His Son, Jesus.
It begins with the Feast of Passover, and this is when Jesus died upon the cross, becoming then the Passover Lamb, the Lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world.
He was then buried the next day, which is the start of the Feast of Unleavened Bread. Within the Passover celebration is the Matzah Tosh, where the middle matzah is removed, broken, and half is wrapped and hidden. It represents the 2nd person of the Godhead, Jesus, and His death and burial. Further, matzah is baked without leaven, which is descriptive of being without sin, which is another picture of Jesus’s death.
Next is the feast of First Fruits, which is the first day of the week following Passover, and this is representative of Jesus’s resurrection, where of Jesus it is said, “But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep.” (1 Corinthians 15:20 NKJV)
Now we come to Pentecost, which in God’s timetable of redemption through Jesus would be the formation of the church, which we’ll look at in a moment, and of whom Jesus is the head of the church (Ephesians 5:22).
The last three are the Feasts of Trumpets, the Day of Atonement, and Tabernacles, and these point to Jesus’s return, as the first thing that will happen is when the trumpet of God sounds and the dead in Christ are raised, and we that are alive will be caught up in the air to meet Him, or that which is known as the rapture. Then there is when all of Israel is redeemed on the Day of Atonement, which is at the end of the Tribulation time, and then Tabernacles will be the 1,000-year reign of Christ.
Now, as Pentecost being when the church is formed, we need to look at the feast itself and how it was to be celebrated.
Fifty days after the Feast of First Fruits, (fifty, being the meaning of Pentecost), or on the first day of the eighth week, it was to be celebrated with an offering (Leviticus 23:16).
“You shall bring from your dwellings two wave loaves of two-tenths of an ephah. They shall be of fine flour; they shall be baked with leaven. They are the firstfruits to the Lord.” (Leviticus 23:17 NKJV)
What is important to understand is that in every grain offering commanded by God, they were all to be without leaven, or yeast. But here is the one exception, and two loaves were to be offered. This is not without significance.
First, leaven in the Bible is representative of sin, and what these two leavened loaves represent are the makeup of the church, Jew and Gentile, bond and free, male and female, who are all one in Christ Jesus (Galatians 3:28), and who are all sinners, as the Bible makes clear, all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23).
And it is upon this feast of Pentecost that the Holy Spirit came down upon the disciples whom Jesus told to wait in Jerusalem for the impartation of the Holy Spirit.
We’ll look more at this at the end of our time together.
Now, let’s start down this road of Pentecost which begins at Gethsemane.
Gethsemane was recorded in the gospels as the place where Jesus went with His disciples after the Passover meal. The place was located somewhere on the side of the Mount of Olives across the Kidron Valley from Jerusalem. Now, no one today knows exactly where on the Mount of Olives. But the location was in a garden like setting with Olive trees and it contained an olive press.
In fact, that is the meaning of the name, Gethsemane. Gethsemane is a compound word from two Hebrew words, “Gat,” meaning a press, and “Shmanin,” meaning oil. And so, Gethsemane means “A place where olive oil is pressed.”
It was here that Jesus went and left nine of the disciples around the entrance, taking only three, Peter, James, and John further into the garden, and then left them to watch and pray as He went in further still (Matthew 26:36-46; Luke 22:39-46; Mark 14:32-42).
The Bible says that Jesus was troubled and overwhelmed with sorrow, to the point of sweating drops of blood (Luke 22:44). Three times Jesus prayed that if it were possible the cup of suffering would be taken from Him.
We live in a world that wants the easy way.
Even Jesus wanted out of the cross and what it called upon Him to do, in that it called upon Him not only to die, but for the first time before time even began, to be separated from the Father as our sins would be laid upon Him. Yet, instead of seeking the way of the flesh, the easy way, He sought the way of the Father as He ended his prayer,
“Not My will be done, but Your will be done.” (Luke 22:42 NKJV)
Chapter 12 of the book of Hebrews tells us to look unto Jesus, “The author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:2 NKJV)
That Jesus “endured the cross, despising its shame” and that He did this “for the joy that was set before Him,” reveals that even while under such immense pressure, in torment knowing what the cross represented, which was more than just His death, but that for the first time since time began He would be separated from the Father, pressed on, not only because it was the will of the Father, but that He knew the joy that awaited Him once His sacrifice for our sins was accomplished.
Now, for us, Gethsemane has great significance and meaning.
There at Gethsemane was then an olive press. How it worked is that the olives were gathered and put in porous sacks, and these would be stacked one upon another where a heavy beam was lowered with increasing weight to press down upon these sacks, and the oil would pour out.
And here’s the point, the more pressure that is applied, the more oil is produced. Consider now the rest of Hebrews 12, verses 3-4, where is says, “For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls. You have not yet resisted to bloodshed, striving against sin.”
In our stop at Gethsemane on our way to Pentecost, I guess my point is have we prayed this earnestly for the oil of the Holy Spirit to be poured out upon us, where like Jesus we sweat drops of blood, figuratively speaking.
But take a further look and think about how it was at Gethsemane that Jesus decided to be crushed for the sins of humanity. It is at Gethsemane that Jesus prepared Himself to do the will of the Father and go to the cross. Maybe we can look at it like this, Jesus won the struggle at the cross, not while He was being crucified, but rather it was at Gethsemane while He was in prayer.
And so, we must begin on the road to Pentecost at Gethsemane, a place of pressing, knowing what Jesus said that in this world we will have tribulation, but we are not to allow it to overcome us, and that’s because Jesus overcame the world, that is, He overcame the world starting at Gethsemane. And so will we do the same as we press in like Jesus with our prayers and pray, “Not my will be done, but Your will O Lord.”
Now, our first stop on this road to Pentecost is the place called Calvary.
The word, “Calvary,” is Latin, meaning “skull,” and its counterpart in the Greek is the word, “Golgotha,” or “Place of a skull.” It was a skull-shaped hill in ancient Jerusalem that is believed to be just north of the Damascus Gate, and it was the site of Jesus’s crucifixion, and is mentioned in all four Gospels (Matthew 27:33; Mark 15:22, Luke 23:33, and John 19:17)
In speaking about this, Jesus wanted to make sure that we understand what it means for our lives.
He said, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.” (Luke 9:23 NKJV)
Taking up our crosses isn’t being inconvenienced nor is it carrying around some burden. It doesn’t mean to stay in some thankless dead-end job, or to have a sickness or disease, where we say, “This is the cross I have to bear.”
What it means to pick up one’s cross is to die to our own selfish desires so that we can live for God and the destiny He has for our lives. It’s what I refer to as living a sacrificial life, or the cross life.
Back when Rome ruled the world, whenever you’d see someone carrying a cross, you never wondered what kind of burden they may be bearing, rather you knew they were going to their death.
To pick up one’s cross means to be willing to die for the cause of Christ. It’s being willing to surrender all to God.
But there is something beautiful and encouraging when we consider taking up the cross of Christ, and that is, when Jesus said, “Take up your cross and follow me,” what we need to understand is that as we take up our cross, Jesus already picked it up and carried it for us, and eventually died upon it for us.
And when I think about that, the picture I get is how we are like Simon of Cyrene.
“And as they led Him away, they seized one Simon of Cyrene, who was coming in from the country, and laid on him the cross, to carry it behind Jesus.” (Luke 23:26 NKJV)
But this picture that I get comes from a show called Jesus of Nazareth. In it, they don’t have Simon of Cyrene carrying it behind Jesus, as it says in the Scripture, but they, that is, Simon and Jesus, carried it together.
And from that scene what came to mind is the Scripture where Jesus tells us to take His yoke upon us and learn from Him. When fields needed to be plowed, it was customary to put a young inexperienced ox with an older more experienced one who could help the younger one and show him the way.
And this brought me to what Jesus said, in how he walks right beside us, and helps us carry that cross and those burdens of life.
“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30 NKJV)
Therefore, we need to daily purpose to pick up our crosses and follow Him, as He joins with us on this road, showing us what it looks like to live for Him. Because, for me to follow Jesus is to be like Him or to be “Christ-like.”
And so now we get to our last stop on this road of Pentecost, and that is the empty tomb.
The Empty Tomb
The empty tomb is all about the resurrection of Jesus Christ. But here’s the point of this stop, it’s not that we stay at the empty tomb, but allow the empty tomb to move us forward to Pentecost.
On the Feast of First Fruits, when Jesus rose from the dead, He revealed Himself to the disciples there in the upper room. And it was then that He said to them, “‘Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.’ And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit.’” (Jon 20:21-22 NKJV)
And what happened to them there, is what happened to David in the Old Testament when he was anointed by Samuel to be King. It says that the Lord told to Samuel, “Arise, anoint him; for he is the one.”
“Then Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the midst of his brothers; and the Spirit of the Lord came upon David from that day forward.” (1 Samuel 16:13 NKJV)
David was the only person in the Old Testament that was anointed with the Holy Spirit where it remained with him for the rest of his life. And this is what happened to the disciples there in the room as Jesus breathed on them and anointed them with the Holy Spirit.
But Jesus knew that more was needed. He knew that the Holy Spirit was needed in a greater way, in the anointing of the church, which is not about a building or a religion, but the anointing of the people of God to be those vessels of honor for God in this world.
And so, after the resurrection and prior to His accession Jesus made the final preparations for the fulfillment of the Feast of Pentecost.
“I send the Promise of My Father upon you; but tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high.” (Luke 24:49 NKJV)
That word, “endued,” means to be enveloped in. And so they were to be enveloped in power from on high, or in the divine power of God, which we see from what Jesus said was to be in no one less than the Holy Spirit, the 3rd person of the Godhead.
And this is what Jesus said later when He commanded them to wait in Jerusalem for this promise saying, “For John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” (Acts 1:5 NKJV)
And so it was, on the feast of Pentecost that the Holy Spirit came in power and enveloped them and immersed them in His power where the church, with Jesus as its head, was formed.
“When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting.
Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.” (Acts 2:1-4 NKJV)
And so, I go back to what I said last week that led to today’s study, and that is we as believers, and as the church, we need to stop seeking the experience of the Holy Spirit, but rather we are to seek the Holy Spirit’s life changing reality in our lives and in the life of the church.
And while this is what we are aiming for, what we need to understand is that this is a road that we must take, a road to Pentecost.
And that road begins at Gethsemane where we, like Jesus, need to prepare our hearts, souls, and spirits to follow the Lord, to pray earnestly for the oil of the Holy Spirit to be poured out upon us so that we can follow God’s will and no longer our own.
We then need to stop at Calvary and the cross of Christ, where we carry our crosses for Jesus in this world we live in. But also, we need to realize that we don’t carry these crosses on our own, but we join in with Jesus, who already carried it, and died upon it for us. Therefore, our stop at Calvary is all about our living that sacrificial life, that cross life.
And our final stop is at the empty tomb where we receive the anointing of the Holy Spirit from Jesus, who breathes on us as He did the disciples when we come to faith in Him. And then we get ready for the fulfillment of Pentecost in our lives and in the church, as we are then endued with and immersed in Holy Spirit power that will help us live for God and make a difference in our world.
Wednesday Evening Bible Study