The End and a Birthday Beginning

When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. And 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. — Ac 2:1-4

Today is Pentecost, which means we have celebrated Easter for 50 days! If you've been hanging on with me since Lent, that also means that we've been together for 90 (really over 100, when you count Sundays). Sincerely, I am humbled and grateful to God to get to share His Word with you, and I pray that God is in the midst of this all.

Pentecost! If you aren't familiar with it, here's an informative (albeit cheesy) 2 minute video. Jesus has ascended into heaven, and left the Apostles to do what He commanded of them: 

Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.- Mt. 28:19-20

I would imagine that even as Jesus told them that, before He left, they were still a bit confused. They had been disciples-- they didn't know how to make them, that was Jesus' job. And yet, if we think back on the many weeks we have been studying the life of Peter and his relationship with Jesus, it was always Jesus who met Peter in his need: Jesus spoke first, He called him to "come", He healed his family (and many others in Peter's sight), He loved Peter so very deeply. And He said, "surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age". So how would He be with them? By leaving the Holy Spirit to fill them and empower them to do all the works He commanded. 

Jesus never gave a command without equipping Peter to be able to fulfill it. He said He would make him a "fisher of men"-- a disciple maker. Sure, Peter didn't know what that meant on the outset, but He then spent 3 years walking beside Jesus, seeing how He made disciples. When Jesus said "Come", to join Him out of the boat, He equipped Peter to walk on the water through His power (even though Peter's own fear interfered). And so when Jesus left Peter and the other disciples, He promised to send the Holy Spirit, who would continue the work of equipping them to do what they could not do on their own. 

So the first thing the Holy Spirit does is equip Peter and the other disciples to speak in languages they don't know. These are country bumpkins, these Galillean fisherman, there's no way they would know all these worldly languages. Don't you love that, the first thing that Jesus sends the Holy Spirit to do is give them the ability to speak other languages? I can see that being a protest that, at least in their minds, the disciples might have had to the Great Commission to "make disciples of all nations"-- um, excuse me Jesus, we only speak Aramaic... How are we supposed to do that? On your own, you aren't. But with the Holy Spirit-- anything is possible for those who love Him, who are called according to His purpose. 

I want to challenge you to read all of Acts 2 today. Pentecost is an important but often overlooked day, when we first see the Apostles filled with the Holy Spirit and sharing the Good News of the Gospel-- of what Jesus has done for all people. But we can't end a study on Peter without looking at Peter's part in Pentecost.

But Peter, standing with the eleven, lifted up his voice and addressed them: "Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and give ear to my words. For these people are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day. But this is what was uttered through the prophet Joel: " 'And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams; even on my male servants and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit, and they shall prophesy. And I will show wonders in the heavens above and signs on the earth below, blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke; the sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon to blood, before the day of the Lord comes, the great and magnificent day. And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.' — Ac 2:14-21

Peter had always been a spokesperson of sorts for the other 11 disciples-- but he'd always spoken up to Jesus. In fact, the last time someone publicly asked Peter about Jesus, he denied even knowing Him 3 times, remember?! But here we find our friend Peter, the bumbling fisherman from Galilee, standing up to crowds of people and preaching the first sermon. The people thought that perhaps the disciples were drunk-- speaking in all these different languages so early in the morning! But here is Peter, preaching to the people, quoting from Scripture, just like Jesus did, showing the people how the Word of God is fulfilled, just like Jesus did. It gave me chills as I read that. Peter, who has messed up so many times, who has misspoken and rebuked Jesus and had shaky faith and impulsive actions and doubtful thoughts-- this Peter is preaching boldly to the people about Jesus. (Please, please, please, read Acts 2 --or, all of Acts!-- for yourself!). 

The faithfulness that Jesus cultivated in Peter from day one of their meeting on the shore of the Sea of Galilee is just starting to come into fruition here on the day of Pentecost, the birthday of the Church. The faithfulness Jesus cultivated in Peter, even when he was so unfaithful, is being empowered by the Holy Spirit to do what Jesus commanded of him and the others. And the beautiful thing of it is-- that same Holy Spirit empower us still today, to walk to faith and to go and make disciples. Disciples make disciples. I believe so firmly in this. Peter went out, and spent the rest of his life preaching the Gospel, telling others about his dear friend Jesus who was God incarnate, who died to save people from themselves. He still had mess ups-- he wasn't magically perfect. But he was equipped by the Holy Spirit, and that's what he needed to do the work Jesus called him to do-- the work that Jesus also calls us to do. We have been called to make disciples: it's not a nice-to-have, or a bonus, or an "if I get to it" thing. No, it's a call, a command, and He promises to be with us in it. Peter answered that call for the rest of his life-- will you? 

Dear God, We thank you for Pentecost, for the way that you sent Your Spirit to be with the disciples, so they would know they weren't alone, and so that they could fulfill the call you placed on their lives. You have placed that same call on our lives, and yet Lord, I am full of excuses and fear and doubt and busyness that makes me want to push it off. God, forgive me of my denial of your call. Let me answer it and trust that your Spirit will be with me through it all. In Jesus' name, Amen. 

Dig Deeper: Jesus has called us to go and make disciples. Are you willing to answer the call? 

Do you want to know more about how to make disciples? I do. If you'd like to join me in learning what that means and how to go about it,  enter your info below and we will journey together!