If you look just beyond the crowd of tourists in this picture, you’ll see a set of steps and a small door. The door is locked. From a different angle in the room, you can see a small, high window sharing the wall with the door. The shrine in which we were standing was built much later.
No one is allowed to access that locked room, the traditional site on Mt. Zion of both Jesus’ final Passover meal and then, 50 days later, Pentecost. (Interesting note: the site of King David’s tomb is almost directly below this site.)
Those who attend congregations using the church year calendar to structure their times of corporate worship will be celebrating Pentecost tomorrow. Just prior to His ascension, the resurrected Jesus had instructed his disciples to hang around Jerusalem for a few more days to wait for the coming of the Holy Spirit. They’d been counting the days from Passover to Shavuot, and they were going to need to be in Jerusalem to celebrate Shavuot, one of the key feasts ordained by God for His people.
The cataclysmic events of Pentecost fulfill the joy of Shavuot. The holy day marks the day God spoke to His pilgrim people with The Ten at Mt. Sinai 50 days after they’d been delivered from Pharaoh. The tablets transformed them from a tribe who had patriarchs who’d spoken with God to a people with whom the Creator spoke. Each one of them could know His character; each one could know how to honor their Deliverer with their lives.
We know the difference between “could” and “actually did” was why Christ came for us – and it is what makes what happened in that upper room so stunning. The Holy Spirit came just as Jesus promised, and transforms our stone-cold hearts:
“This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that time,” declares the LORD. “I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people.” (Jer. 31:33)
We often focus on the amazing gift – God Himself, breathing in us – on Pentecost. We love the heaven on earth of signs and wonders; we pray to speak with the same tongues of fire that translated God’s glory to Jews gathered for Shavuot in Jerusalem from every nation under heaven.
There was a divine purpose in sending the gift of the Holy Spirit to baptize Christ’s followers in that plain room, in that location, on that specific day. The joy of receiving the law on Sinai is both amplified and fulfilled on Mt. Zion on Shavuot/Pentecost. May the connection between the two intoxicate you just a little bit today with the wonders of God.