Summary: Jesus did not let His disciples stop at Passover. He urged them on to Pentecost. The original Passover in Exodus 12 delivered the Jews in Egypt from death by the application of the blood of sacrificed lambs. Jesus has done the same (and more!) by His own blood, the blood of “Christ our Passover,” the Lamb of God who gave His life for the forgiveness of our sins.
The Jews’ Feast of Pentecost occurred 50 days after Passover (Leviticus 23:15f). The crucified and resurrected Savior Jesus, after He had breathed the Holy Spirit into them (John 20:21), nevertheless told His well-trained disciples not to go forth in ministry until they had received power from on high. This came on the Day of Pentecost in the mighty baptism with the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:5-8 with 2:1-4).
Jesus’ command to His disciples then is just as valid for His disciples today. Don’t stop at Passover! As blood-washed, born-again Christians, continue on to Pentecost, exactly as Jesus’ disciples did. There, in your personal experience of New Testament Pentecost, you will become filled-with-power-for-ministry Christians by the baptism with the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:4f, 8). Jesus’ followers had both their Passover — their salvation experience by Christ’s shed blood — and their Pentecost — their baptism with the Holy Spirit and power. That is still Christ’s desire and plan for us today.
Shortly before His death on the cross, Jesus spoke at length to His disciples, preparing them for His soon-coming crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension. He especially promised them that the Holy Spirit would live in them. But Jesus put that indwelling presence of the Spirit into a specific future time frame. At the time He spoke this to them, prior to His crucifixion, He said the Holy Spirit “lives with you now and later will be in you.” The King James Version says, “He dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.”
Jesus’ death and resurrection occurred at the time of the Jewish Feast of Passover. That helps us understand the apostle Paul’s words: “Christ, our Passover Lamb, was sacrificed for us” (1 Corinthians 5:7). Jesus’ voluntary self-sacrifice at Passover fulfilled the great prophecy John the Baptist had spoken several years earlier: “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29). Hebrews 10:10 speaks of this as our having “been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.”
The very evening of His resurrection day (vs. 19), Jesus appeared to His close disciples. And in that meeting He fulfilled His pre-cross statement to them that the Holy Spirit at that time lived “
Now alive and in their joy-filled presence (vs. 20), Jesus breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” This was the moment when the Holy Spirit came to live in them, as Jesus had promised. This was the point in time when those disciples were born again by the Spirit, reminiscent of Jesus having earlier taught Nicodemus of his need for the spiritual new birth: “…the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’” (John 3:6-7)
At the time of the Jews’ Passover feast Jesus died and rose again for our salvation, providing for us the ability to be born again by the Spirit into the family of God. Multiple Scriptures speak of this. John wrote of the Savior Jesus: “To all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God … [to be] born of God” (John 1:12-13). The apostle Paul wrote: “He saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He washed away our sins, giving us a new birth and new life through the Holy Spirit” (Titus 3:5, NLT). To born-again Christians Paul wrote of the “Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God” (1 Corinthians 6:19).
Every person needs his or her personal salvation experience (Acts 20:21) of repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ, our Passover Lamb. Then, having experienced your personal Passover, your salvation from sin, your new birth in the Lord Jesus Christ, don’t stop there! Continue on to Pentecost! That’s what Jesus commanded His disciples to do, as we’ll see below.
Just before the resurrected Savior ascended back to heaven (vs. 51), He commissioned His disciples to preach in His name to all nations. But Jesus knew that they needed one more thing to do that effectively. So He commanded them (not an option!) to “stay in the city until [they] had been clothed with power from on high.” What! The Eleven (Judas by then was dead) had been personally trained by Jesus for 3-1/2 years, far surpassing what today’s most eminent seminaries could possibly do. Further, they had been recently born again, experiencing the full blessing of New Testament Passover, when Jesus breathed into them the Holy Spirit, reminiscent of God’s initial life-giving breath to Adam: “Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being” (Genesis 2:7). God’s breath into Adam’s lifeless nostrils gave him natural life. Jesus’ breath of the Holy Spirit into His obedient followers gives eternal life. But again, having received all that, His disciples were still ordered by the Lord to remain in Jerusalem until they received power from heaven for their ministries.
These were many of the same disciples and apostles into whom after Passover the risen Savior had breathed the Holy Spirit. They were born again; they were well trained in ministry. But Jesus still said “Wait.” For what? For the baptism with the Holy Spirit which He would soon send them from heaven. As Luke had recorded, they were to “stay in the city until” they received the power from on high. That power didn’t come to them in their salvation experience, their new birth (their personal Passover). Jesus was speaking of heaven-sent power that they had not yet received, even though they were born again. This expectant, faith-filled waiting for the power to be imparted in their soon-coming baptism with the Spirit was not a suggestion by Jesus. It was a command! (vs. 4). The baptism with the Spirit was Jesus’ clear intent for first-century Christians, and surely it is still Jesus’ intended blessing for 21st-century Christians. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever (Hebrews 13:8). I should clarify here: we no longer have to wait, we do not need to “tarry.” On that first New Testament Pentecost (Acts 2:1-4), the Holy Spirit baptism was poured out and remains immediately available for all the Lord’s faithful. But the main point remains: we must be saved by Christ our Passover. Then for ongoing, effective ministry we need our own Pentecost, the baptism with the Holy Spirit, just as Christ’s early Church needed it. Jesus told them so, and He tells us so today.
What was Christ’s command? Continue on to Pentecost. Christ our Passover has given us the new birth unto eternal life by His death on the cross for our sins and His resurrection to life. Once saved/born again, each New Testament believer is exhorted to experience Pentecost also. Jesus did not let His early Church stop at Passover. He will not let his latter-day Church stop at Passover either. He has always desired that His people experience the salvation provided by Him, the Passover Lamb, and also the power for ministry provided by Him in the baptism with the Holy Spirit.
There is a baptism in water that all Christians should receive as soon as possible after being saved. The great prophet John the Baptist said that in addition to baptism in water, there is a baptism with the Holy Spirit. Jesus likewise made this clear distinction as we read above in Acts 1:5 — “John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” The great prophet John, as well as the Lord Himself, made clear distinction between water baptism and Holy Spirit baptism.
All four Gospels reveal Jesus as the one who baptizes His people with the Holy Spirit. Matthew here quotes John the Baptist as declaring that “He [Jesus] will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” Jesus is the Baptizer with the Spirit!
And it’s a power-imparting baptism, as Christ said in Acts 1:5,8 — “You will be baptized with the Holy Spirit… You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you…” And notice that Matthew (Luke 3:16 also) says that Jesus will baptize with “the Holy Spirit and fire.” The eminent Greek scholar, Professor D.A. Carson, in his commentary on Matthew in the Expositor’s Bible Commentary, p. 105, says this about the Greek construction of “with the Holy Spirit and fire” — “the one preposition governs both ‘Holy Spirit’ and ‘fire,’ and this normally suggests a unified concept, Spirit-fire or the like.”
In Acts 1:8 Jesus tells us that the purpose of the power imparted in the Holy Spirit baptism is to empower us to be His witnesses to the world. A stellar example of this was the late, Spirit-filled German evangelist Reinhard Bonnke. Ministering mostly in Africa, brother Bonnke in his lifetime of crusades had over 78 million Decision cards returned by those accepting the Lord’s salvation. 78 million! He summarized his ministry in these simple words: “I preach Jesus Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit.” That’s exactly what Jesus said! He told His disciples in the entire Church Age that by the baptism with the Holy Spirit we will receive the needed power to effectively be His witnesses to a world of lost souls. Now let’s see how the early Church got this Holy Ghost power, because that’s the same way we’ll receive it today.
Recall again Jesus promise in Acts 1:4-8 that we read above. He said, “In a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit…  You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
In Acts 1 Jesus called this experience being baptized with the Holy Spirit. In Acts 2 they received what Jesus promised, and the words used to describe this Spirit baptism were: “All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit.” The expressions baptized with and filled with the Spirit are identical. They are just two ways of describing that one Pentecostal experience. And from Acts 2 on to this day, the Church has used the term Pentecost(al) to describe that mighty outpouring of the Spirit that first occurred in Acts 2 on “the day of Pentecost.”
Notice carefully that the immediate evidence that they had been baptized with/filled with the Holy Spirit was that they spoke in tongues by the enablement of the Holy Spirit. This same evidence of tongues from the Spirit baptism occurred also in Acts 10:44-46 — “…the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on Gentiles. For they heard them speaking in tongues and praising God. Likewise in Acts 19:1-6 — “the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied” (vs. 6).
The tongues were the evidence of the Holy Spirit baptism, and this should not be deemphasized. But the central purpose of that Pentecostal baptism of the Spirit was and still is to impart to believers the power to be Christ’s witnesses to the lost of this world.
It goes without saying that Jesus knew exactly what He was doing when He commanded his born-again, faithful followers not to go out yet, but to wait in Jerusalem for the heaven-sent power needed to be His witnesses. He then ascended back to heaven and shortly after, on the Day of Pentecost, He poured out the mighty baptism of the Spirit on His waiting believers. He was already their Passover — “Christ our Passover Lamb” — and He is that to us today too. But along with holding onto all that Passover means in a believer’s life, they were commanded by Jesus to move ahead also to embrace their own personal Pentecost, the baptism with the Holy Spirit.
Yes, the disciples bore some fruit in their ministries under Jesus’ watchful eyes before the cross. We do not in any way discount that. But we recall that Jesus’ entire astounding and powerful public ministry was done after His anointing by the Holy Spirit — “…how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil…” (Acts 10:38). This Holy Spirit anointing upon Jesus is mentioned in John 1:32f when Jesus was about age 30. Shortly after that Holy Spirit anointing, in John 2:1-11 we see Jesus doing His first recorded miracle at the wedding feast in Cana — “This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee, and manifested forth his glory…” (John 2:11, KJV).
After Jesus’ disciples received the mighty anointing of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost in Acts 2:1-4, we see dynamic ministry and great fruit borne by them unto the Lord. In their ministries in Acts we see the sick healed, the dead raised, demons cast out, and multitudes brought to salvation in Jesus Christ, sometimes thousands at a time, and occasionally even entire cities (for example, Acts 2:41; Acts 4:4; Acts 9:33-35).
In sum, don’t stop at Passover. Obey Jesus and continue on to Pentecost. Come to Jesus the Passover Lamb for salvation. Then come to Jesus the Baptizer with the Holy Spirit for the heaven-sent power to be His witnesses to a lost, hopeless world. Jesus Himself said that He had come down from heaven “to seek and to save the lost” (Luke 19:10). We who are saved (Passover) can press on into our personal Pentecost and receive His promised baptism with the Spirit and go forth divinely empowered as Christ’s ambassadors to a lost world needing His saving grace.
If God is touching your heart and you want to receive His power-imparting, ministry-enabling baptism with the Spirit right now, you can! My friend Dr. Berin Gilfillan, the founder and CEO of ISOM, the world’s largest video Bible school, has an excellent video — Being Filled with the Holy Spirit — that will encourage you and lead you into receiving this life-changing experience from the Lord. May it be so today for you, in Jesus’ name!
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©2021, James H. Feeney.
Pentecostal Sermons &
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