Could you imagine being one of the disciples that actually hung out with Jesus while he was on earth? Talk about being mentored. And not only was he their teacher, he was their very close friend. He loved them, and they loved him. He was their King. Their Savior. They depended on him. They needed him. And when he was snatched away from them and brutally executed, their whole world changed. Then imagine him returning to them in the middle of their mourning. Raised again, just as he said he’d be. There he was, in their midst once again. And he had a whole new mission for his friends. Go and tell everyone!
Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20 NLT)
His disciples felt empowered by all they had witnessed and they were sure of Jesus’ redeeming power – but could these “normal” people go out into the world on their own and talk bodly about Jesus, even in the face of persecution and death? Fortunately, Jesus was aware of their fears and shortcomings and he didn’t intend to leave them on their own. When he left this earth for the last time to take his rightful spot in Heaven, he promised to send them a “helper”. He promised to send them the Holy Spirit.
It was also written that this message would be proclaimed in the authority of his name to all the nations, beginning in Jerusalem: ‘There is forgiveness of sins for all who repent.’ You are witnesses of all these things. “And now I will send the Holy Spirit, just as my Father promised. But stay here in the city until the Holy Spirit comes and fills you with power from heaven.” (Luke 24:47-49 NLT)
So after they watched Jesus ascend into Heaven they waited, just as Jesus had told them to. Do you think they wondered how they would know when the Holy Spirit arrived? They had seen all of the amazing things Jesus had done, so I’m sure they figured his arrival would be amazing. But I wonder if they really knew how amazing it was going to be. Well, when the Holy Spirit showed up, he left no question as to whether it was him or hot. He arrived with a bang (so to speak).
On the day of Pentecost all the believers were meeting together in one place. Suddenly, there was a sound from heaven like the roaring of a mighty windstorm, and it filled the house where they were sitting. Then, what looked like flames or tongues of fire appeared and settled on each of them. And everyone present was filled with the Holy Spirit and began speaking in other languages, as the Holy Spirit gave them this ability. At that time there were devout Jews from every nation living in Jerusalem. When they heard the loud noise, everyone came running, and they were bewildered to hear their own languages being spoken by the believers. They were completely amazed. “How can this be?” they exclaimed. “These people are all from Galilee, and yet we hear them speaking in our own native languages!…They stood there amazed and perplexed. “What can this mean?” they asked each other. (Acts of the Apostles 2:1-8, 12 NLT)
Some of the people that saw what was happening figured that the believers were crazy, or drunk. But Peter quickly reminded them that they what they were witnessing was fulfillment of a prophecy from long ago.
No, what you see was predicted long ago by the prophet Joel: ‘In the last days,’ God says, ‘I will pour out my Spirit upon all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy. Your young men will see visions, and your old men will dream dreams. In those days I will pour out my Spirit even on my servants—men and women alike— and they will prophesy. (Acts of the Apostles 2:16-18 NLT)
And then little old Peter, who had failed miserably when he publicly denied Jesus … and who was often known for speaking out of turn … began to boldly proclaim the message of salvation. Sure, he was empowered by all that Jesus had done for him and he knew first hand that his message was true. But he was also filled with the power of the Holy Spirit, and nothing could stop him now.
“No, what you see was predicted long ago by the prophet Joel: ‘In the last days,’ God says, ‘I will pour out my Spirit upon all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy. Your young men will see visions, and your old men will dream dreams. In those days I will pour out my Spirit even on my servants—men and women alike— and they will prophesy…People of Israel, listen! God publicly endorsed Jesus the Nazarene by doing powerful miracles, wonders, and signs through him, as you well know. But God knew what would happen, and his prearranged plan was carried out when Jesus was betrayed. With the help of lawless Gentiles, you nailed him to a cross and killed him. But God released him from the horrors of death and raised him back to life, for death could not keep him in its grip…Now he is exalted to the place of highest honor in heaven, at God’s right hand. And the Father, as he had promised, gave him the Holy Spirit to pour out upon us, just as you see and hear today…So let everyone in Israel know for certain that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, to be both Lord and Messiah!” (Acts of the Apostles 2:16-18, 22-24, 33, 36 NLT)
And what happened next laid the foundation for all future believers.
Peter’s words pierced their hearts, and they said to him and to the other apostles, “Brothers, what should we do?” Peter replied, “Each of you must repent of your sins and turn to God, and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. Then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. This promise is to you, to your children, and to those far away —all who have been called by the Lord our God.” Then Peter continued preaching for a long time, strongly urging all his listeners, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation!” Those who believed what Peter said were baptized and added to the church that day—about 3,000 in all. (Acts of the Apostles 2:37-41 NLT)
The same Spirit-filled results are possible today. We have the same Jesus, the same salvation promise, the same baptism and the same Holy Spirit. So what are we going to do with our God given power source?
It is God who enables us, along with you, to stand firm for Christ. He has commissioned us, and he has identified us as his own by placing the Holy Spirit in our hearts as the first installment that guarantees everything he has promised us. (2 Corinthians 1:21-22 NLT)
Since you have heard about Jesus and have learned the truth that comes from him, throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy…And do not bring sorrow to God’s Holy Spirit by the way you live. Remember, he has identified you as his own, guaranteeing that you will be saved on the day of redemption. (Ephesians 4:21-24, 30 NLT)