Larry Sheehy-101611Listen to Larry Sheehy read his Thinking of God column.
The Jews of Jesus’ day celebrated several major feast days — Passover, Pentecost and the Feast of Tabernacles or Booths. Pentecost was the second most important of these celebrations, Passover being the most important. It always came exactly fifty days following the Passover Sabbath, according to Leviticus 23:15-l6, and was always on the first day of the week.
There were many of these celebrations at Pentecost preceding the one which took place in 30 A.D., but none so important as this. On this particular day, a very strange and marvelous series of events took place. Just 50 days earlier, on the day following the Passover Sabbath, Jesus had risen from the grave, having been crucified and buried three days earlier, according to Jewish time. He then appeared to his disciples on several occasions, and, just before going back to heaven, he told his disciples to wait in Jerusalem for the power they would need to carry out his commands.
So, we find them waiting in Jerusalem, all in one place, as recorded in Acts 2. The events that took place there can be read in a few minutes, but the significance of them will last forever. As they were waiting, the Bible says, “suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.” (Verses 2-4)
This amazing event was soon on the lips of thousands throughout the city, and some began to gather to see what was happening. People from many different nations were there, but when the apostles, led by Peter, began to speak, everyone could understand them in his own language. They were accused of being drunk by some, but that wasn’t the case. No, clearly, this was a work of God. Peter, inspired by the Holy Spirit, seized upon the opportunity, and declared the gospel, or the good news of the crucified and risen Saviour, Jesus Christ, whom they had “crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men” (v. 23).
With a number of powerful arguments, he convinced thousands of them of the deity of Jesus, and of their need to do something. They were so amazed and frightened, they immediately cried out, “Men and brothers, what shall we do?” Peter replied, “Repent,” — that is, of your unbelief about Jesus — “and be baptized” — that is, immersed — “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.”
This was a simple command, which about 3,000 obeyed. They gladly receiving the word and were baptized, and were added to the number of the disciples of Jesus. So, in just a few verses we find the first gospel sermon and the beginning of the church, the kingdom of God on earth. Since that time, Christians have undergone tremendous persecution and trials of every sort; but the church of Christ is still present in the world!
You can become a member of Christ’s church by doing exactly what they did on that day of Pentecost, almost 2,000 years ago. On the basis of faith in Jesus, you can repent of your sins and be baptized, washing them away in the blood of Christ. Then you can have assurance that you are no longer separated from God by those sins. Let me encourage you to do it today.