It was fifty days since Jesus had risen from the dead on Easter morning and fifty days after the Jewish celebration of Passover. For the Jewish people, this was another big holiday, called Pentecost. People had come to Jerusalem from many different countries to celebrate the holiday.

Jesus’ disciples were not celebrating. They were sad. They were worried. They were confused.  At Easter Jesus had appeared to show his friends that he was alive again and ten days before Pentecost, Jesus appeared one last time, and then he left to be with God in heaven.  Now Jesus’ disciples were on their own. They knew Jesus had given them a job to do. They were supposed to keep doing Jesus’ work in the world.

But they also knew that when Jesus did all the wonderful things he did in the world, people arrested him and killed him.  The disciples were afraid to go outside. They didn’t want to get arrested. They didn’t want people to hurt them.  The best thing they could think of was to stay together. They had a big room where they could hang out.  Sometimes they prayed, sang songs and sometimes they talked about what they should do.

“I think we should go out!” said Peter.                   “But I’m scared!” said James.

“Let’s just stay in here,” said Mary Magdalene. “We’ll think of something.”

But then, while they waited, things got a little weird, they started speaking in different languages.

“What was that?” Mary asked.

“I said ‘By the way, your hair is on fire!’

And Mary started flapping her hands on her head to put out the flames.

Well that was just the beginning. As they looked around, everybody in the room had flames above their heads.

Their hair was not on fire. The flames they saw were a sign that the Holy Spirit had come to give them strength and courage and new skills to do what Jesus asked them to do.

“Hey, I know!” said Mary Magdalene. “Now that we speak new languages, let’s go out and tell the people about Jesus! 

And so that is what they did. They explained to the people outside that long ago, the prophet Joel had promised that the Holy Spirit would be poured out on all the people. They explained the prophet’s promise that everyone who called on God for help would be saved. And then they explained about Jesus and invited the people to become his disciples.

(Adapted from Gary Neal Hansen Pentecost story)

Used with permission:  Ph.D Website and Blog:  

Book: Kneeling with Giants: Learning to Pray with History’s Best Teachers (Inter Varsity Press, 2012)