Dr. George B. Jackson: Feeling Pentecostal
This coming Sunday the church universal will celebrate the day of Pentecost. Many Christians view Pentecost Sunday as the anniversary of the birth of the church. In the Jewish tradition it was first known as Shavuot or Festival of Weeks. In Leviticus 23 the Hebrews were instructed to count seven weeks (50 days) after Passover for the second great feast in their liturgical calendar.
For the church there are prerequisite moments to the Day of Pentecost. In Matthew 16, Simon confessed, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the Living God.” This profession of faith prompted the Lord to design the structure of a revolution. He said, “Upon this rock (petros) I will build my church (ecclesia) and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”
Another benchmark came late during the night after our Savior rose from the dead. The disciples hiding in fear of the Jews’ dragnet were held up at the home of Mary, mother of the gospel writer Mark. With the house locked tight, Jesus showed up in the room. He showed them His wounds of crucifixion, commissioned them and breathing on them, infected them with the Holy Spirit (John 20:19-23).
These dramatic events were followed by our Lord’s ascension into heaven from Bethany. Before He left them He gave them an order that had to cause some grumbling and grinding of teeth. He told them to go back to Jerusalem and wait for the promise of the Father.
After He ascended and they came down off the spiritual high of being with Jesus, reality set in. He wanted them to go back to Jerusalem. Go back to the scene of the crime. Go back to the hurt place. Go back to the danger of being one of His followers. He wanted them to go back to a place where they would be laughed to scorn. He wanted them to go back to a place where they would be labeled losers for following a Messiah whom the Romans executed. They wanted to catch the fastest camel headed out of town, but Rabboni said, “go back and wait on the promise” in Jerusalem.
It’s hard to face the critics, naysayers and haters who celebrate your failures. They get a kick out of kicking you when you are down. Running from the scene of your crisis is a way to cope but it does not resolve feelings of defeat and loss that linger for years.
Jesus knew the adversity they would face individually and as the upstart church. They needed to encourage each other. The seed that He planted in each one of them needed an incubator. In that upper room ten days of prayer, fasting, and P.U.S.H. (pray until something happens) birthed the church.
Yes, I’m feeling Pentecostal. I feel like facing my critics with intense prayer. I feel like facing my fears with fasting. I feel like facing the enemy with unity. I’m convinced that if I wait on the Lord until my change comes, I will feel the fire of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit speaks through me, and those who never understood me will finally understand that I just want us to praise God together.
Dr. Jackson is pastor of Citadel of Faith Christian Fellowship in Thomasville.