Memorial Day. A day set aside by our country to remember all the brave men and women who freely gave of their lives in order that we as a nation might be free. Yesterday, the church had a significant event to remember—The Day of Pentecost. In the past, I have not given it much thought. However, this year I did not just want to stay at Jesus’ death and resurrection only to wait until Christmas to celebrate and remember His birth again. My question and reading has been focused on What happened after the Resurrection? As we have explored together the past three weeks the period of 50 days after Jesus’ resurrection, we have seen Him appear to many people and share with them His parting words. Last week we looked at His last words before His ascension which spoke to the work we are to carry on as believers and followers of Christ. After He ascended He told the disciples to wait in Jerusalem until they received the promise of the Holy Spirit. Remember He did not even tell them how long, what time, or how it would be received. It is now ten days later and the time we now label the Day of Pentecost. As we remember today the lives sacrificed for our freedoms here in this nation, may we not forget the sacrifice we as believers must be willing to make in order to save souls from eternity spent absent of the presence of God.
“When the day of Pentecost had arrived, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like that of a violent rushing wind came from heaven, and it filled the whole house where they were staying. And tongues, like flames of fire that were divided, appeared to them and rested on each one of them. Then they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in different languages, as the Spirit gave them ability for speech. There were Jews living in Jerusalem, devout men from every nation under heaven. When this sound occurred, a crowd came together and was confused because each one heard them speaking in his own language. And they were astounded and amazed, saying, `Look, aren’t all these who are speaking Galileans? How is it that each of us can hear in our own native language? Parthians, Medes, Elamites; those who live in Mesopotamia, in Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabs—we hear them speaking the magnificent acts of God in our own languages.’ They were all astounded and perplexed, saying to one another, `What could this be?’ But some sneered and said, `They’re full of new wine! ‘” (Acts 2:1-13)
As I meditated on this passage for the past few days one thing stood out to me that I have never noticed before. Do you remember what Jesus said to His followers before He ascended into heaven? Go into all creation, all nations, to the ends of the earth and preach the gospel (Matthew 28:19; Mark 16:15; Acts 1:8). What would the disciples and followers have been thinking at that time? Could they speak more than one language? Even if they could, I would not think they could speak every known language at that time. They must have felt extremely inadequate and questioned what exactly Jesus wanted them to do. Spending their time in praise and prayer while they waited, their answer came 50 days later through the receiving of the Holy Spirit. On the Day of Pentecost, the Spirit gave them ability for speech. It was as I read this over, I was reminded, when God calls us to a task, He also equips us. We may not have all the answers or the knowledge and exact plans as to how to carry out the task God assigns to us, but we can rest in our trust and faith in Christ, He will send through the Holy Spirit the exact tools we will need for the job. What great comfort that is to me.
Upon receiving of the Holy Spirit, we immediately see the obedience of Peter to carry out the spreading of the gospel.
“But Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice, and proclaimed to them: `Men of Judah and all you residents of Jerusalem, let me explain this to you and pay attention to my words. For these people are not drunk, as you suppose, since it’s only nine in the morning. On the contrary, this is what was spoken through the prophet Joel:
And it will be in the last days, says God, that I will pour out My Spirit on all humanity; then your sons and your daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, and your old men will dream dreams. I will even pour out My Spirit on My male and female slaves in those days, and they will prophesy. I will display wonders in the heaven above and signs on the earth below: blood and fire and a cloud of smoke. The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the great and remarkable Day of the Lord comes. Then everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.
`Men of Israel, listen to these words: This Jesus the Nazarene was a man pointed out to you by God with miracles, wonders, and signs that God did among you through Him, just as you yourselves know. Though He was delivered up according to God’s determined plan and foreknowledge, you used lawless people to nail Him to a cross and kill Him. God raised Him up, ending the pains of death, because it was not possible for Him to be held by it. For David says of Him:
I saw the Lord ever before me; because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Therefore my heart was glad, and my tongue rejoiced. Moreover, my flesh will rest in hope, because You will not leave me in Hades or allow Your Holy One to see decay. You have revealed the paths of life to me; You will fill me with gladness in Your presence.
`Brothers, I can confidently speak to you about the patriarch David: He is both dead and buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. Since he was a prophet, he knew that God had sworn an oath to him to seat one of his descendants on his throne. Seeing this in advance, he spoke concerning the resurrection of the Messiah:
He was not left in Hades, and His flesh did not experience decay.
`God has resurrected this Jesus. We are all witnesses of this. Therefore, since He has been exalted to the right hand of God and has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit, He has poured out what you both see and hear. For it was not David who ascended into the heavens, but he himself says:
The Lord declared to my Lord, ‘Sit at My right hand until I make Your enemies Your footstool.
`Therefore let all the house of Israel know with certainty that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah!’
When they heard this, they came under deep conviction and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles: `Brothers, what must we do?’ `Repent,’ Peter said to them, `and be baptized, each of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and for your children, and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call.’ And with many other words he testified and strongly urged them, saying, `Be saved from this corrupt generation!’
So those who accepted his message were baptized, and that day about 3,000 people were added to them. And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread, and to the prayers.” (Acts 2:14-42)
Again, I am captivated by Peter’s testimony—The undiluted message of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Through Peter’s obedience to share the message, many came under deep conviction and had a desire to know what they must do. As a result 3,000 came to know the Lord as their personal Savior!!! Then as so often happens when we place our trust in Christ, or step out in faith to obey what He has asked us to do, fear overcomes us.
“Then fear came over everyone, and many wonders and signs were being performed through the apostles. Now all the believers were together and held all things in common. They sold their possessions and property and distributed the proceeds to all, as anyone had a need. Every day they devoted themselves to meeting together in the temple complex, and broke bread from house to house. They ate their food with a joyful and humble attitude, praising God and having favor with all the people. And every day the Lord added to theme those who were being saved.” (Acts 2:43-47)
It has happened before and it will happen again. Satan does not like it when another lost sinner finds his way. Knowing he can do nothing to separate from the love of God, he will try his best to dampen our relationship with our Savior. The believers were overcome with fear. However, through the continued testimony of the apostles, the believers were strengthened in their faith and became disciples themselves.
So many lessons have been learned along this journey from Jesus’ death and resurrection to the receiving of the Holy Spirit, yet it all points towards one thing: The Glory of God through the spreading of His love story for His people.
“But how can they call on Him they have not believed in? And how can they believe without hearing about Him? And how can they hear without a preacher? And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: How beautiful are the feet of those who announce the gospel of good things! But all did not obey the gospel. For Isaiah says, Lord, who has believed our message? So faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes through the message about Christ.” Romans 10:14-17
My Heart’s Prayer: Lord, forgive me for my fear. Help me in my weakness to step out in faith to share the message of Christ to those who are waiting to hear. Instead of fearfulness, I ask for Your Spirit of power, love and sound judgment. Use my mouth to proclaim Your Glory and may many more come to know You as their personal Lord and Savior. In Jesus Name, Amen.