- Acts 1:1-5; 2:1-47
Jesus died on the day of the Passover feast. Fifty days after the Passover, another feast called Pentecost, was celebrated in Jerusalem. Originally, Pentecost was called the Feast of Weeks and was given in celebration of the firstfruits of the harvest. All of the Jews would assemble in Jerusalem to celebrate the feast.
Before He ascended to heaven, Jesus told the apostles to remain in Jerusalem until they received power from on high. Jesus was referring to the miraculous coming of the Holy Spirit upon them. Jesus ascended about a week before the feast of Pentecost.
1 When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. 2 Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. 4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.
5 Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. 6 When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard their own language being spoken. 7 Utterly amazed, they asked: “Aren’t all these who are speaking Galileans? 8 Then how is it that each of us hears them in our native language? 9 Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome 11 (both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs—we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!” 12 Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, “What does this mean?”
13 Some, however, made fun of them and said, “They have had too much wine.”
(Acts 2:1-13 NIV)
At this point, Peter stood up and addressed the crowd. He preached the first message about Jesus. Peter showed from Scripture that the things they were witnessing had been long foretold by the prophets and how Jesus of Nazareth was indeed the Son of GOD. Peter said:
36 “Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah.” 37 When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” 38 Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.”
40 With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.” 41 Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day. 42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43 Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. 44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. 46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.
(Acts 2:36-47 NIV)
And so the mass preaching of the gospel of Jesus Christ had begun, and so did the mass growth of the Lord's body, the church. Let's focus on three important lessons from today's reading:
- The Holy Spirit was very much involved in the Christians' lives of the early church. We'll continue to learn more about the Holy Spirit's actions in the days ahead, but let's pay close attention to all the things the Bible records the Holy Spirit doing as we go.
- When the crowd asked Peter what they should do, Peter told them to repent and be baptized (a word which means fully immersed—covered over). Peter did not tell them to just believe in Jesus and be baptized later to join the church, nor did he tell them to pray the sinner's prayer and invite Jesus into your heart and you'll be saved. (Don't miss this; it's a most important truth for our own salvation!)
- Early Christian life was simple and pure. When people obeyed the gospel and were saved, they were excited about their new life. They spent time with one another. They genuinely loved one another, and they showed it by giving up worldly possessions and sharing the profit with those who had needs.