First Fruits of the Early Church
When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly, a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.
Acts 2: 1-4 NIV
I never realized just how closely connected the Christian and Jewish calendars are. The first connection is clear: Jesus and his apostles were in Jerusalem the week of his death for the Passover festival. All able-bodied Jewish men were required to travel to Jerusalem for Passover.
But did you know that Passover was one of three such festivals? The other two were the Feast of Weeks and the Feast of Tabernacles.
The Feast of Weeks took place 50 days after the Passover, requiring that Jews presented a first fruit offering from their wheat harvest. Each of the three major Jewish festivals had a first fruit offering attached to it.
Wait, how does the Festival of Weeks connect to the Christian calendar? The answer lies in another name for the Feast of Weeks: Pentecost. From a Christian-focused lens, Pentecost is the day the Holy Spirit descended upon the apostles. The truth is Pentecost, which means “fifty,” had been celebrated since Moses described it to Israel in Leviticus 23.
So, when the Holy Spirit came upon the apostles, just as Jesus had promised, nearly every Jewish male was present in Jerusalem.
Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard their own language being spoken. Utterly amazed, they asked: “Aren’t all these who are speaking Galileans? Then how is it that each of us hears them in our native language? Parthians, Medes, and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome (both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs-we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!” Amazed and Perplexed, they asked one another, “What does this mean?”
Acts 2: 5-12 NIV
The surrounding crowd was confused. How could a bunch of Galileans be speaking all of their native languages? Were they drunk? Peter then stood up and, for the first time in Church history, presented the Gospel to the masses in a beautiful message well beyond the abilities of a poor fisherman (Acts 2:14-40).
And so as the Jewish men came with the first fruits of their wheat harvest, they also witnessed the first fruits of the Church through the Holy Spirit.
Following Peter’s presentation of the Gospel, three thousand people accepted his message and were baptized. And so the Church grew from a remnant of Jesus’s followers (approximately 120 at the time) to over three thousand in a single day.
Three thousand people. The first fruits of the Holy Spirit and the birth of the Church.
How have you seen the fruits of the Spirit in your life? What first fruits can you give back to Him today?
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
Galatians 5:22-23 NIV