April 9, Thursday
These prayer gatherings continued day after day. On Sunday morning, the day of Pentecost, they had met at the Temple for prayer when suddenly the place was filled with the sound of a mighty rushing wind from heaven. Then, right before their eyes, a burning tongue-shaped flame of fire settled above the head of each person. They were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and He caused them to speak in different languages.
It just so happened that devout Jews from around the world were gathered there for the Feast. Many hurried to the area where this phenomenon was occurring. As they listened, each heard the Message in their own mother tongue. They were shocked and filled with awe. There were folks from Mesopotamia, Judea, Cappadocia, Pontus, Asia, Phrygia, Pamphylia, Egypt and other parts of Africa. In the crowd were Parthians, Medes, and Elamites as well as visitors from Rome, Crete, and Arabia. “Aren’t those guys from Galilee? How is it possible that we are all hearing the same Message about God’s mighty deeds yet in dozens of very different languages?” they asked in astonishment. “What on earth is going on here?”
Some onlookers suggested that the group had gotten drunk and were just blabbering; but Peter stood and spoke so all could hear, “Men of Judea, residents of Jerusalem, hear what I have to say! These men are not drunk. Why, it’s only nine o’clock in the morning. What you are experiencing is nothing less than the fulfillment of Joel’s prophecy.
“Hear the Word of the Lord: ‘And it shall be in the last days that I will pour out My Spirit upon all mankind. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, and your old men will dream dreams. I will even pour My Spirit on slaves and servants, men and women alike, who also will prophesy.
“‘Heaven and earth will erupt in signs and wonders: blood, fire, and smoke, the sun darkened and the moon turned blood-red. Then the magnificent Day of the Lord will come, and whoever calls on the name of the Lord will be rescued.’
“Now, people of Israel, hear me out! As you well know, Jesus of Nazareth lived among us and, with power given Him by God, performed miracles, signs, and wonders. But you, using the arm of godless Rome, nailed Him to a cross and murdered Him. God knew you would do that; He had it all worked out in advance.
“God raised Him to life, defeating death in the process. David testifies in Psalm 16 that it was impossible for the Lord to be held in the grave: ‘The Lord is always present with Me, even at My right hand, that I may not be shaken; that is why My heart rejoiced, My tongue sang for joy; and My flesh can rest in hope, because You will not leave My soul in Hades, nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption. You lead Me into life; You make Me truly happy in Your presence.’
“Now brethren, we all know that David was not speaking about his own body in these verses. We know where his grave is right here in Jerusalem. So to Whom was he referring?
“The fact is that David was a prophet. He knew that God had promised a descendant of his Who would reign forever, and in this psalm David spoke of the resurrection of that Messiah. It was none other than this Messiah, Jesus, Who was not abandoned in death and Whose body could not decay. Yes, God raised Him up. Every one you see standing here is an eye-witness of that fact!
“Not only is He alive and well, but just as He promised, He has taken the place of honor at the right hand of the Father and poured out His Spirit on us this very day, which is what you are witnessing.
“Hear again the words of David, ‘The Lord said to my Lord, “Sit at My right hand until I make Your enemies Your footstool.”’ Now David, as we know, never ascended to Heaven. He was, again, writing prophetically concerning the Messiah.
“What does all this mean? Listen, nation of Israel! Know beyond the shadow of a doubt that this same Jesus, whom you crucified, is our Messiah and has been declared by God to be Lord of all.”
Peter’s scathing exposé pierced their hearts and they cried out, “Brothers, now what do we do?”
Peter answered, “You must confess what you have done, turn away from your sin, and every one of you must be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then your sins will be forgiven and you, too, will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. This incredible promise is available to you and your children — yes, and for all who are far away, for as many as the Lord our God shall call to Himself!” Peter spoke at length and explained further, urging them to escape from their perverted generation.
The crowd received the Message with open arms. Some three thousand were baptized and added to the number of Christ-followers that first day. They returned to the temple daily to learn more from the apostles and bonded deeply as they opened their homes to each other, sharing meals and praying together.
Everyone felt a deep sense of awe at what God was doing. In addition to the miracles being performed by the apostles, a new sense of community began to form as those with property or possessions sold them to meet the needs of others. Praising God for their newfound joy, they shared everything in common. These developments caught the attention of many others, and every day the Lord added more people to the ranks of the “saved.”