What Really Happened on the Day of Pentecost?
J. Vernon McGee
There is a great confusion and diversification of opinions when it comes to discussing the events that took place on the Day of Pentecost. What exactly did happen? In order to get the correct answer, let us look very carefully at the only record we are given of what actually occurred on that day. It will be necessary for us to move back and see the preparation that was made for the Day of Pentecost, because in God's plan and program, it was vitally important.
The Word of God is filled with paradoxes, and I believe we can gain a great deal of enlightenment on this particular subject by considering one of these seeming contradictions. Dr. Luke presented it when he was concluding his Gospel. He recorded these words of our Lord:
Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day, and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. And you are witnesses of these things. (Luke 24:46-48)
Then Jesus went on to tell them that they were to go into all the world and preach the gospel. He said they would receive power after the Holy Spirit came upon them, and He even marked out the steps, beginning at Jerusalem.
But then in the Book of Acts, Dr. Luke recorded another command of our Lord, which certainly sounds like a contradiction:
And being assembled together with them, [Jesus] commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father, ''which,'' He said, ''you have heard from Me.'' (Acts 1:4)
In one place He said, ''You should go out, beginning at Jerusalem,'' then shortly after that He said, ''Wait. Don't go!'' What did He mean? Well, may I suggest that these men had the facts, but they were to wait. Why? They were to wait, of course, for power. And the two statements present, not a contradiction, but a paradox.
Perhaps an illustration of what a paradox is would be in order. I was recently involved in a very good example. A pastor was giving me directions on how to reach his church, where I was to speak. He told me, ''You drive out the freeway and turn off at Reid Avenue.'' And then he said, ''You go right to go left.''
I shook my head and said, ''Come again?''
He said, ''You have to go right in order to go left.''
''Well,'' I said, ''if we're going to go left, let's go left. Let's not fool with this right business.''
He explained patiently, ''You can't turn left because there are several lanes of oncoming traffic to your left. But you can pull off to the right at Reid Avenue, and then you'll come up over an overpass to go left, above the freeway. You go right to go left.'' That is not a contradiction on modern freeways - it's a paradox, if you please.
God said go, then He said wait, and then He said go. On every downtown street corner there is a paradox, for street lights represent a paradox. They say ...
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