“Whoa…what did he say?”
My friend, Jacob, nudged my side. “Shhh. Listen up!”
I strained to hear the bearded man speaking. He spoke with an unfamiliar accent but somehow I understood what he was saying, but the significance eluded me. We were in Jerusalem to celebrate the Feast of Pentecost, rejoicing in the first fruits of the harvest. I thought we were joining a raucous party because it was only 9 AM and yet thousands of people were walking around speaking in strange languages. Many were saying they were full of sweet wine. Yes! Pen-te-cost! Pen-te-cost! This was going to be the best Pentecost ever!
“He’s saying that the people are not drunk, but filled with the Holy Spirit, as the Prophet Joel prophesied.”
“Fine, whatever.” I said dismissively. “They seem drunk to me.”
“Shhh!” Jacob was intently listening to this odd bearded man. “Remember that Rabbi, Jesus of Nazareth?”
I nodded. “Yeah. The guy who supposedly fed over five thousand people with a few loaves of bread and fish? I heard he healed a lot of people of their illnesses, even raised a person named Lazarus from the dead. But I heard that Lazarus guy was also his close friend, so it was probably all staged to look like a miracle. What about Him?”
My friend ignored my comments. “This guy is saying that Jesus is the Messiah.”
“What?” I shouted, causing several people close by to shush me. “He was crucified and executed by the Romans. How can He be the Messiah? He’s dead!”
“No, that’s the point! This guy is one of His disciples and he is claiming that God raised Jesus from the dead. He ascended to Heaven and now sits at the right hand of God, the Father.”
“But…if that is true, what does that mean for us?”
As if on cue, the speaker, one of His disciples, uttered these words and answered the question that was on the minds of so many. “Repent and be baptized 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.”
Acts 2:38 (ESV)
I watched as thousands came forward and were baptized by the disciples of Jesus, each convert confessing and repenting of their sins. I was astounded by the spectacle and enraged by their actions.
So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.
Acts 2:41 (ESV)
“Really? A splash of water and my soul is saved? What about the sacrifices? No bulls? No goats? Not even doves? Not worth my time. A man coming back from the dead? This will die out within a few months, just like all other fads and charlatans. Trust me, this won’t last. These disciples will all break down and confess it was a hoax when our leaders imprison and torture them for their blasphemy. Right, Jacob?” I turned to my friend but he had disappeared.
“Great!” I pouted. “He’s following those disciples. Fine. I don’t need him. I follow the ten commandments, at least most of the time. I sacrifice at the temple. I obey the Sabbath. I do all the right things. I’m not like others who just give lip service to God. I’m good enough to earn my place in Heaven. I don’t need to confess and repent of my sins to this Rabbi Jesus. How can it be that easy? This is a lie. All those prophecies of Scripture could never be fulfilled by one man. No way!”
I turned away from the crowd, eager to find any remaining drunk carousers who were ready to party. I wasn’t going to waste a good festival.
I won’t be one of the three thousand.
Love and trust the Lord; seek His will in your life.