Acts 1:8 But ye shall receive (dynamis) power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.
Acts 2:1-4 And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.
Acts 2:38-39 Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, [even] as many as the Lord our God shall call.
Jesus, here in Acts 1:8 is found instructing the 11 just before his ascension into heaven. In His last instruction to the disciples we have a prophecy given to them. The prophecy is that they will receive power after the Holy Ghost is come upon them and that this power would allow them to be witnesses of Him.
But ye shall receive power.
Who is the “ye” in this verse? It is the 11 disciples. So this receiving of power after the Holy Spirit comes upon you is just for the 11? In this verse the 11 are the only ones included in “ye”. We’ll get to the rest of us in just a little while.
Just some 43 days before Jesus was being lead to the hill called Golgotha and these same 11 were running for the tall grass. Only one remained until the end and was there while Jesus was being crucified. John was there to receive Mary as he would his own mother. Peter had been asked by a young girl if he was a friend of Jesus and Peter, scared for his own skin, denied that he know the Lord. Asked by two more people Peter denied so forcefully as to swear an oath in God’s name that he did not know Jesus. He carried this denial so far as to curse Jesus and again to swear an oath that he did not know Him. Now this cursing was not cursing as we think of a four letter word. No, this cursing is worse than that. He actually cursed as in calling down evils on someone, and this someone was His Lord. How pitiful that this man who vowed to never leave Jesus and vowed to go to prison for Him and even to die for Him, now was cursing his Lord and swearing oaths in God’s name that he doesn’t know Jesus. Imagine swearing by God’s name that you don’t know God! And don’t be so hard on Peter, the other disciples also ran and possibly denied they knew Jesus to save their own skin.
To these 11 Jesus says the words,
But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.
These same 11 who mostly deserted you while you were dying for them? These men are going to now be your witnesses unto the uttermost part of the earth? One of these men couldn’t bring himself to say that he knew Jesus to a little girl just weeks ago. Yet this is the prophecy Jesus gives to these 11 rag tag disciples of His. And these men did spread the Gospel to the whole known world of their time.
What changed about these men to make them fearless preachers of the Gospel when just a short time before they were running for their lives? Most apologists give the reason for this change as that these men had seen the risen Lord. I do not disagree with this opinion and even whole heartedly agree with it. These men were dejected when Jesus was brought to trial, beaten, spit upon, and killed by crucifixion. How could they not be? Think of the confusion that had to be going through the minds of these men. They had seen Jesus work miracle upon miracle including raising the dead to life. They had heard the Master Teacher utter words like no one had ever heard before, outside the angels who listened to Him in heaven and who would cry Holy, Holy, Holy. Suddenly this miracle working Jesus is bound and brought before the courts and He seems powerless to do or say anything to free Himself. Then He is lead to a place where He is beaten, criticized and ostracized. Next He is forced to carry His own cross and still no miracle to free Himself and no silver tongued oratory to confound His captors and being set free. Then, so much like one of us He stumbles under the weight of the cross and has to be helped along by a man named Simon who carries the cross the rest of the way. The 11 must have thought at this time, “This is it! He cannot even carry His own cross much less be freed of those who are deriding and abusing Him. And then the pounding of nails could be heard mixed with the wailings of the One who with His words the stormy sea had calmed to glass. And then He died on that cross. What sorrow and confusion gripped the souls of these men. The one they knew to be the Christ, the Son of the living God, was dead. All hope was lost, as was the one they loved and had followed for three years. No wonder they scattered and no wonder Peter in his confusion and in lostness denied His Lord three times. Peter is often derided for his failings and especially his denial of our Lord. Don’t be so quick to criticize him though and don’t be so sure that I and you wouldn’t have done the same thing that Peter did.
Soon however these fearful, distraught, and weak men were transformed into men of such courage that they would all risk their lives for and eventually give their lives for the preaching of the Gospel. Upon hearing that He was raised from the dead, the eleven did not believe, but the women’s words seemed as idle tales and foolishness, Luke 24:11. Upon seeing the risen Savior, they were afraid. If the Savior “showed” up in most churches today, our parishioners would be afraid. True moves of God are so foreign to us because we are so used to and have grown so accustomed to contrived moves of the Spirit. They supposed Him to be a ghost, but He told them that ghosts and spirits have not bones and flesh as they could see that He possessed. When He showed them His nail pierced hands and his pierced side, they believed. Only Thomas didn’t believe right away and said that he would need to feel the piercings in order to believe. He did believe upon seeing Jesus. This had such an impact on these men, seeing the risen Lord, that any attempt to convey the effect will fail miserably. This gave these eleven men such boldness that they would preach the Gospel of Christ without fear or favor even to the death.
With all of this new found boldness these men must have been champing at the bit to spread this Gospel. Think of it, they couldn’t wait to spread the Gospel that they had experienced firsthand. They couldn’t wait to speak at the top of their lungs words that would convict the souls of men of sin and words of repentance. But Jesus told them to wait. Why not send these men out while they are full of vim and vigor. Adrenaline must have been flowing through these men’s veins to an extent not known by the finest athlete as he goes into competition. But Jesus tells them not to strike while the iron is hot. This would have been my advice, get out there while you are as bold as you’ll ever be. Get out there and preach while the excitement is at its fullest. Go out and speak about what you’ve seen while it is fresh on your mind. But Jesus tells them to wait. Why should they wait?
Jesus had to return to the Father before the Holy Spirit could come. The disciples were told to wait for the Holy Spirit. They lack the clarity of thought and the fullness of the picture of salvation that the Holy Spirit would bring. Salvation cannot be understood apart from the Holy Spirit. Men cannot even be drawn to God, but by the Holy Spirit. These men would have been totally ineffective without the Holy Spirit convicting men of sin as they spoke concerning who Jesus was and is. John 16:7-11 tells us,
Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you. And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: Of sin, because they believe not on me; Of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more; Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged.
So we see here that if these men had not waited on the Promise, if they had not waited upon the Holy Spirit, there would have no conviction of sin, righteousness, and judgment. In other words had these men gone out and preached under their own power and strength, there would have been no mention of,
Men and brethren, what shall we do to be saved?
There would have been no repentance on the part of the first audience who heard Peter deliver the first Gospel message.
Was this prophecy fulfilled? Was it ever fulfilled! The fulfillment of this prophecy is such a concrete form of evidence as to the divinity of Jesus that the issue is totally and completely settled. Only God could know the future in such detail. Only God would dare give a prophecy of such magnitude against such odds. These scared, downtrodden men are going to be Christ’s witnesses in Jerusalem and let’s stop there for a moment. It was in Jerusalem that their leader had been arrested and taken through a kangaroo court case. It was in Jerusalem that the boldest and most outspoken of the men told a little girl that he never knew the Lord. It was here that the Pharisees and Sadducees ruled the religion and to a great deal the society with ravenous strength and tactics. In this toxic environment Jesus told these men that they would be witnesses of Him after the Holy Spirit had come upon them. Had these men not waited for the Holy Spirit the people gathered in Jerusalem would not have heard the message each in his own language. Had they not waited for the Spirit of God, Peter’s words would not have cut to the heart and caused the hearers to ask, “Men and brethren, what shall we do”.
The Holy Spirit had come as prophesied by Jesus. He had come with power and had rested on each of the disciples as tongues of fire. Also a mighty rushing wind was heard and the noise of this wind had drawn the crowd. The Holy Spirit is the One Who draws people to Christ. The Holy Spirit speaks not of Himself, but speaks of Christ. The Holy Spirit points not to Himself but always to Christ.
The Feast of Pentecost was a celebration of God visiting His people. How fitting that God would choose this day to visit His people again in the person of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is still visiting with men,
For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, [even] as many as the Lord our God shall call.
Every day for the believer in Christ is a celebration of the Feast of Pentecost, a celebration that Christ is in us in the person of His Holy Spirit. May His Spirit ever draw us closer to Jesus as we strive to be more like Christ, not out of a sense of duty or works, but out of simply being changed by the regenerating power of Christ Himself.
If you are not a Christian and have never obeyed the Gospel, listen to the Holy Spirit as He draws you even now to Christ. Come along with those of us who have placed our faith in the Divine One who shows us that He is divine through this great prophecy. Come and join us in the Feast of Pentecost as we feast upon the words of Jesus because His words are Truth and Life.