by Barry Newton
Thinking they had seen it all before, curious Israelites gathered to investigate an unusual sound. At the center of the commotion a group of men were speaking loudly and boldly. Certain individuals from the crowd suddenly became surprised as they recognized the wonders of God being proclaimed in languages from their own distant homelands. What did all of this mean?
A man called Peter unraveled their bewilderment. In essence, he explained that God had been and was at work.
Peter’s message revealed that what had interrupted their activities celebrating the first fruits of the spring harvest involved God pouring out his Spirit as God had foretold years earlier through his prophet Joel that he would do. But that was not all.
God had also been at work through that man called Jesus who had been killed some fifty days earlier at Passover. Through miracles God had accredited Jesus. It was God’s plan that Jesus would die on the cross. But even more amazing, through king David, God had foretold about a millennium earlier that the day would come when he would raise this one from the dead to enthrone him. God had made Jesus to be Ruler and Messiah.
God had created new possibilities for their lives. If they would reject evil to truly serve God and if they’d be baptized, their sins would be forgiven and they would receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
On that day those who responded to the message were baptized. And the first harvest made possible by Jesus’ death and resurrection was gathered by the Lord into his newly formed community.
In a world filled with cynicism about institutions, entrenched with human opinions regarding cause and effect and racked with fear over what will be, disciples would do well to remember who their Ruler is and to whose community they pertain. The agendas, creative thinking and cultural tastes of humanity did not create the church; God did.
by Barry Newton