In Luke’s first book, commonly called The Gospel of Luke, he tells of Jesus’ second meeting with all the disciples. This account is recorded in Luke 24:44-49, Jesus speaking — “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” 45 Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, 46 and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, 47 and that repentance for the forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things. 49 And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.”
John fills in a detail the other writers seem to have missed. That detail is that Thomas was not with them at his first appearance. So, eight days later, with Thomas present, Jesus appeared a second time to them for the primary purpose of convincing Thomas he was alive!
During the 40 days following his resurrection the Gospels have different perspectives on what was done and said. Later in fact, Paul summarizes Jesus’ use of that time in 1 Corinthians 15:3-7, let’s look at Paul’s summary. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. 6 Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles.
I would assume Paul is repeating what Luke had gathered. This is the only record that combines all these events. Nonetheless, I believe all of these things occurred. The old saying God said it, I believe it, and that settles it. The question that I have raised to that old saying is if God said it that settles it. It will be good for me if I believe it. We are not intended to weave them together into a complementary story.
We do know that during the last few weeks of his life on earth Jesus promised, several times, that he would send the Holy Spirit. The promise of the Father would come on them and they would be able to proclaim the gospel to all nations. They were to begin in Jerusalem go on to Judea and Samaria and then around the world.
I believe the apostles and other disciples moved about for 40 days and returned to Jerusalem where they met in the upper room for 10 days. That fills in the gap in time between Passover and Pentecost.
I have always wanted to have a written copy of the sermon that Peter preached on the day of Pentecost. I have said in the past that I could ask him about it when I join him in paradise. However, it is not likely that will be important to me then. What were the consequences of the coming of the Holy Spirit? There are so many consequences that the world itself could not hold the record of them. The immediate consequences are recorded for our instruction and are found in Acts 2:42-47.
“And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. 43 And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. 44 And all who believed were together and had all things in common. 45 And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. 46 And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.’
They devoted themselves to God. At least that’s how I understand this passage. What does “devoted” mean? Vocabulary.com describes “devoted” this way, Being devoted to something means being focused on that particular thing almost exclusively. When you are devoted to a cause, you work to achieve its goals. When you are devoted to a person, you place their needs above your own. We can apply that use of “devoted” to the following actions taken by the new believers.
First, awe came upon every soul. The word “awe” could be translated “fear”. Of course not a cringing fear. It is a reverential respect. Imagine these new converts needing to understand what was going on in their own world and in their own lives. There was no place for them to meet. There was just too many of them! The answer is contained in our text. They must have almost immediately formed a fellowship of small groups. During this time something especially good was happening.
Wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. Notice, Luke does not tell us that the apostles were doing signs and wonders. That’s a man centered approach just as much of the Christian world today operates on a man centered understanding. The fact was, God was performing signs and wonders through the apostles. They were willing channels for God to work through. This is certainly a consequence of the presence of the Holy Spirit in the lives of his church. Not by the apostles but through the apostles! The Apostles were willing channels for the Father to work through. Once some of the people asked Jesus, “What must we do, to be doing the works of God?” 29 Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.” (John 6:28-29). God’s work does not depend on our ability. The work of God depends on the Holy Spirit working through his people. We are nothing but channels of usefulness to God.
Too often the church looks for people to fill leadership roles because of their talents and abilities. God does not need our talents or our abilities. The only ability God wants in his people is “avail-ability”. If we will maintain a devotion to our God he will use us! The apostles taught what the Holy Spirit taught them. Jesus had told his disciples But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. (John 14:26). The Holy Spirit is our teacher also allowing us to teach others. This happens because believers allow God to teach through us. If you are born again the Spirit of God lives in you. While he was yet with them Jesus had told them they would be brought to trial, “And when they bring you before the synagogues and the rulers and the authorities, do not be anxious about how you should defend yourself or what you should say, 12 for the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say.” (Luke 12:11-12). We can’t share what we do not know. So we need to join with these first century believers and devote ourselves to the word of God. When we store God’s word in our minds he will bring it to our remembrance as we need it. You don’t even have to understand what it means until you need it. The Holy Spirit who inspired the Word of God lives in us and works through us for his glory and our good. Oh, by the way, for the good of many others also!
Another consequence of the coming of the Holy Spirit into the life of the church was that the church was “together”! The writer of Hebrews encourages us even today with these words: And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.
(Hebrews 10:24-25). These words were left to us to encourage us to join our lives together. They were not just together 45 minutes or an hour on Sunday, or being really dedicated, another half hour on Wednesday night. They attended the temple together in special ways that resulted in lives being changed and needs being met. Jesus had told them, A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. 35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:34-35). Taking these words of Jesus seriously will change our lives. He calls us to the highest level of love — HIS LOVE! Jesus commands us to love each other. When we look at verse 35, and think about it for a few minutes, we will understand why the world is less than impressed with us! Our love for our fellow believers will let the world know that we are disciples of Christ. It is no wonder that Christianity is held in such low esteem. There is nowhere near enough evidence that we are his disciples based on our love for each other. The fruit of the Spirit is first of all, love that produces joy and gives peace and develops patience that is seen in kindness reflecting goodness resulting in faithfulness with 23 gentleness that is seen in self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). The love these new believers possessed caused them to be very generous. They had all things in common. This was reflected in their taking their “stuff” out of the attic, or the garage, and having yard sales. Then they took the money they received to the apostles or directly to the person that had a need. This was not a communal society. The evidence for that is found in Acts chapters 4 & 5. There we are told about a very generous man named Joseph and nicknamed “Barnabas”. That name “Barnabas” means “son of encouragement”! Barnabas was the owner of a field. He had no particular need of it so he put on the market and when he sold it he brought the proceeds to the apostles. There was in the church a man and his wife named Ananias and Sapphira. They saw the generosity of Barnabas and decided they would sell their empty lot. When they did, it could be, that it sold for more than they expected. For whatever reason they counted the money and put aside part for themselves.
If they lived in a communal society this couple would have had no choice. But the fifth chapter tells us that as long as the property was theirs they could do as they wished with it. And, after they sold it the money was theirs. They could do whatever they wanted with it. Their sin was not keeping back part of the money. Their sin was lying to God! Both of them died! While they owned it, it was theirs. After they sold it the money was theirs. I do not know what their motive was but I do know that it’s not a good thing to lie to God.
Those new believers in Jerusalem followed a pattern. Day by day they attended the temple and broke bread in their homes. They were filled with joy and rejoiced over what God gave them. They rejoiced because God supplied all their needs in order that they might supply the needs of others. By the way, anytime God gives a Christian a pay raise he or she should ask God what need should be met. After all, it’s his money not ours. Sometimes God wants us to have an increase in our lifestyle. But I would say usually God has a plan for the money He gives us.
Most people, and probably most Christians, see their earnings as a result of their hard labor and wise decisions. Everything we have is a gift of God. It is only ours to manage according to his will!
The consequence of their generous attitude was that they were praising God! Praise was known among them. The rejoiced in their God. If they had had a radio or a CD/DVD player it would have been tuned in to the voice of praise.
The final consequence of the Holy Spirit coming into their lives is that they had a good reputation throughout the region. It concerns me when Christians are not held in high esteem. It pleases me very much to hear a particular Christian or a particular church is having a good reputation. That’s especially true when it’s our church! All of these consequences added together opened the door of salvation for many people. They did not have additions to their number at the annual revival meeting. They did not have to wait for an evangelist to come. They simply allowed the Holy Spirit to do his work in their midst and the consequences combined together.
God added to their number day by day those who were being saved. We would rejoice if God added to our number month by month! Probably we are too content with the status quo.
It is my prayer that I will live to see a similar outpouring in our community and in our lives. If the people of God will humble themselves, confessing their sins, God will forgive their sins and heal their land. This is exactly what is needed in our lives, our community and our nation this day. Let’s agree to seek God’s face rather than his hand. If we seek first his kingdom, and his righteousness all our needs will be given to us.
All scriptures quotes are from: The Holy Bible: English standard version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.