Summary: What made the infant church powerful and successful is no less available to us now.
When my cat was about a year old he developed a urinary infection. A friend of mine who was a veterinary assistant brought home some sample medicines that I administered to the cat for several days, and the problem seemed to be cured.
A week or two later however, the symptoms came back. He wouldn’t eat, he was lethargic, he lay around moaning a lot, and in the litter box he cried out in pain, and produced hardly any urine.
It was a Saturday when the symptoms returned, and when I talked with my friend on the phone she said I should take the cat to the vet on Monday. She knew I was broke financially and would hesitate to spend the money, so she pointedly reminded me that this was an inflammation, an infection, and would not go away on its own, without antibiotics.
That evening, as I was preparing dinner, my three year old daughter was laying on the kitchen floor, petting the cat who was curled up under one of the kitchen chairs.
As he moaned, she asked, “Daddy, what’s wrong with the kitty?” I told her that he was sick and needed medicine because his tummy was hurting. As I went back to cooking, I heard Briana say, “Jesus, please make my kitty all better”, and she continued to softly stroke his fur.
The next morning, the cat was running around, stalking imaginary prey, jumping on the furniture, clawing the curtains and Briana’s forearms... everything seemed back to normal.
Today that cat is 18 years old. He is blind, arthritic, unable to jump and no longer interested in clawing Briana or the curtains... but he has never, in 17 years, had a urinary infection.
Briana had never been told that miracles don’t happen any more. She didn’t know anything about the doctrines of the Christian faith... knew nothing about the great debates of the church... nothing about denominational distinctives... and had no qualms about praying for a cat.
She only knew that Jesus was the One to pray to when you need help, so in childlike simplicity she did, and as promised, Jesus answered.
Today I’d like for us to look at the brand new church of Acts chapter 2 in this light, and see what they, in their wide-eyed, innocent, infant state, have to teach us sophisticated, enlightened, information-saturated 21st century believers.
Let’s read Acts 2:43-47
The day of Pentecost had come. Pentecost is one of the Jewish high holy days, and is celebrated on the 50th day following the feast of First Fruits. It is one of the few holy days that required the faithful to actually be in Jerusalem for the festival if possible; because of that, many who came to the city for Passover simply stayed around for the next 50 or so days, to celebrate Pentecost.
So it is not a stretch of reason to say that most of those thousands in Jerusalem on this Pentecost morning, had been present and had first-hand knowledge of the events of Jesus’ crucifixion. In addition, their ears had to still be buzzing ~ their minds spinning, over the continually spreading news that He was no longer in the tomb.
In fact, droves of people must have come to the garden daily to witness the emptiness of that tomb.
Now I won’t take time today to go into a teaching on these holy days, but please note that Jesus rose from the dead on the day of the feast of First Fruits, as the first fruits of the resurrection.
And whereas the feast of Pentecost, 50 days later, is a day of bringing sheaves of the harvest into the temple to honor God for His abundance, so on this 50th day after our Lord’s resurrection, God brought 3000 souls into His house as the first sheaves of harvest, if you will; the beginnings of the harvest of souls that would continue until He comes again.
The eleven Apostles and Matthias (the new guy), and approximately 108 others had been gathered in an upper room praying, when the promise of the Holy Spirit was fulfilled, accompanied by the noise of a great rushing wind and tongues of fire that lit on each of them there.
They had stepped out to the street to meet the crowd that was gathering there, having heard the sound themselves and come looking for its source, and Peter preached them the first sermon of the Church.
He quotes the prophet Joel, telling them that these passages from the prophet that are so familiar to their ears have now come to pass, in the pouring out of God’s Holy Spirit on men. Of course that message of necessity begins and ends with the gospel of Jesus Christ, and as a result, those many are saved and the new Church is off to a fiery start.