The Crowning of Christ’s Passover at Pentecost.
By Samuele Bacchiocchi
The Jewish pilgrimage feast of Pentecost gained new significance for Christians because it coincided with the birthday of the Church as an institution. On that day, the Holy Spirit baptized 120 disciples of Jesus as they awaited His coming in an upper room (Luke 24:53). This event was the crowning of Christ’s Paschal sacrifice, for by sending forth the Holy Spirit after His ascension, Christ fulfilled the “promise” of the Spirit (Acts 1:4) which had been predicted by John the Baptist (Acts 1:5).
John the Baptist said to those who came to receive the baptism of repentance, “I have baptized you with water; but he [who is coming after me] will baptize you with the Holy Spirit” (Mark 1:8). Before His ascension, Jesus promised that John’s words would soon be fulfilled: “John baptized with water, but before many days you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 1:5). This promise was fulfilled on the day of Pentecost. Peter proclaimed that God’s promise had been fulfilled because the Holy Spirit had been given, in accordance with the prediction of the prophets (Joel 3:1-5; cf. Ezek 36:27).
When Jesus ascended to heaven following His resurrection, He presented Himself to the Father as the first fruits of a coming harvest. On that occasion He took into the Holy Place “not the blood of goats and calves but his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption” (Heb 9:12). In this sense, Pentecost represents the climax of Christ’s Paschal sacrifice that was celebrated in heaven. When the Father accepted His sacrifice “for the sins of the whole world” (1 John 2:2) and exalted Him (Acts 2:33), the Father and the Son sent forth the Spirit. Pentecost is then the crowning of Christ’s Passover in heaven, which was manifested on earth with the outpouring of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:32-33).
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