Summary: The beginning of the church. The new beginnings of the church as looked at through The Story, adapted from Max Lucado and Randy Frazee.
A New Beginning
The Story - 28
May 1, 2011
It’s amazing what could happen in a short period of time, isn’t it? Two weeks ago, Jesus came into Jerusalem with screams of joy and celebration. Within the week, the people who cheered for Him, turned on Him and He was crucified. Then came that terrible Saturday, the day of no hope, a day of total despair, which was replaced with unimaginable joy when the disciples learned Jesus was alive. The feelings and emotions of that week were crazy. Most of us have been there. We’ve had amazing highs, great celebrations; followed by profound sadness and despair.
That’s how it was for the disciples. They weren’t real sure what to do next, Jesus told them, but just like us, they didn’t always listen well. As we look at the final four weeks of the Story, we’re going to race through the inception of the church and see what we can learn from Jesus.
We have now become the church, we are the body of Christ and wherever we go, whatever we do, we represent Jesus and His mission. Jesus now speaks through people like you and I to go into the world and make disciples; to lead others to experience the great hope we have in Jesus. A great summary statement of the early church and their mission, and one which I believe is still the mission for the church, can be found in Acts 1:8. As we look at chapter 28 of The Story, listen to these words from Jesus ~ But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.
After His resurrection, Jesus spent 40 days in His resurrected body on the earth with the disciples. And at the end of these 40 days, Jesus made them ambassadors or missionaries. This is the final command from Christ. He doesn’t send the disciples into the hills to pray or the desert to retreat, but they are sent right into the heart of the city to be His witnesses.
This is so important because at this very moment in time, Jerusalem was filled with people. It was the Jewish holiday of Pentecost. It was a harvest celebration and the city would have been overflowing with visitors. Most historians believe Jerusalem had about 100,000 people, but during Pentecost, they believe the city grew 10 fold. That means there were upwards of 1 million people in town.
Farmers would celebrate the harvest. It was part of the purpose of Pentecost, to celebrate the abundance of the harvest, and it was also to celebrate the giving of the law on Mt. Sinai. It was a very important celebration. People came from all over to celebrate. People with all types of dialects, cultures, and skin colors.
And somewhere in the city are 120 disciples who were told by Jesus ~ 4 Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. 5 For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit. (Acts 1:4-5)
They were simply told in a few days, they would be baptized with the Holy Spirit — 120 followers of Christ, stayed together in the city waiting, not sure what was going to happen or how it was going to happen, just wait for the Spirit. So, for 10 days they hung out together, eating, talking, worshiping, singing and praying to God. Then something astounding happened on the day of Pentecost, when the city was overflowing with people.
We read in Acts 2 ~ 1 When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. 2 Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting.
3 They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. 4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.
5 Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. 6 When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard their own language being spoken.
7 Utterly amazed, they asked: “Aren’t all these who are speaking Galileans? 8 Then how is it that each of us hears them in our native language?
The prayer service becomes a revival. Uncultured Galileans become cross cultural missionaries. They speak languages they’ve never studied. It sounds like the United Nations. Suddenly these uneducated hicks are speaking in languages they could never understand, but now, God has blessed them with this ability to speak in other languages. Andrew for example can now tell about his journey with Christ in Egyptian, and James in Libyan, and Thomas proclaims the resurrection to the Cappadocians.