Thursday, February 10, 2011

The Purpose of Pentecost

By Brenda Black

“Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd: 'Fellow Jews and all of you who are in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say.” (Acts 2:14)

He had no microphone, but the roar rising from the masses called for Peter to match its intensity so that he might be heard. On this day of Pentecost, 50 days after the Resurrection of Christ, a multiethnic crowd reacted vociferously to the strange commotion they witnessed and heard. “Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.” (Acts 2:2-4) Peter then stepped up to seize the moment and impart explanation to the ever-restless and riled that were drawn together in bewilderment, for each of these visitors to the Holy City heard their own native dialect and they were “utterly amazed” (vs. 7).

Some heeded the miraculous event and curiously pressed for answers while others made fun and accused the disciples of drunkenness. The power of God had seized their attention, but it was up to Peter to capitalize on the moment and point their hearts in the right direction. He quoted the prophet Joel who generations earlier spoke of a fiery day like this. Then Peter began to tell them about Jesus – his life, his ministry, his death and resurrection!

They were perplexed. They were opinionated. Mostly, this eclectic crowd was pierced to their very core as Peter began to call for repentance. Remember, most of these people were in Jerusalem two months prior. Many then were among that crowd that called for Jesus' crucifixion! Conviction and fear gripped the ones who realized they had scorned and rejected and killed the Messiah for whom they had been watching and waiting.

The mobs had met the person of Jesus. They saw him die and watched the sky turn black. They felt the earth shake and heard of the temple curtain ripped in two. They knew!

If ever they needed proof of God's great power and authority, they saw it that day when Jesus died. They were still talking about the empty grave 50 days later and still no body had been recovered. They saw God-power again when Holy Spirit flames licked the roof top on this Pentecost day and unlearned men spoke in dozens of different languages penetrating ears and minds and hearts.

They knew the person, they saw the proof. And some responded. Those are the ones who discovered the purpose of Pentecost.

The rest of the story in the Book of Acts tells of a great response to the Truth message that Peter declared. “'Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.'

“When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, 'Brothers, what shall we do?'

“Peter replied: 'Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ so that your sins may be forgiven. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off – for all whom the Lord our God will call.” (Acts. 2:36-39)

The good news is that about 3000 accepted his message and were baptized!

But what of the nay-sayers? They had to be spiritually blinded and ignorant. Think about it: If a drunk slurs his own name, how could the Pentecost cynics reason that drunkenness would make unlearned men articulate linguists! Their hearts were cold and hard so they believed that the Twelve were filled with wine instead of the Holy Spirit.

The sad news is not everyone that day repented. Some resisted the plea, rejected the person and refused to believe the powerful proofs right in front of them. Those who received salvation devoted themselves to teaching and fellowship and to communion and prayer. The rest – well, their decision took them a far darker way. Instead of being filled with purpose, they perished.

Pentecost had a purpose. It birthed the church. Today, the greatest story ever told has not changed. And people still get the chance to hear the truth and turn from their dark paths and walk in light and love when they repent and are baptized into Christ.

If you would like to learn more about this Jesus, I'll gladly be your Peter and tell you everything I know about him. Decide for yourself. Will you believe and be saved by God and filled by the Spirit? Anything less is as foolish as drunkenness and only leads to death.

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