the disciples returned from Olivet to Jerusalem, the people looked on
them, expecting to see on their faces expressions of sorrow, confusion,
and defeat; but they saw there gladness and triumph. The disciples did not
now mourn over disappointed hopes. They had seen the risen Saviour, and
the words of His parting promise echoed constantly in their ears.
to Christ's command, they waited in Jerusalem for the promise of the
Father--the outpouring of the Spirit. They did not wait in idleness. The
record says that they were "continually in the temple, praising and
blessing God." Luke 24:53. They also met together to present their
requests to the Father in the name of Jesus. They knew that they had a
Representative in heaven, an Advocate at the throne of God. In solemn awe
they bowed in prayer, repeating the assurance, "Whatsoever ye shall
ask the Father in My name, He will give it you. Hitherto have ye asked
nothing in My name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be
full." John 16:23, 24. Higher and still higher they extended the hand
of faith, with the mighty argument, "It is Christ that died, yea
rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who
also maketh intercession for us." Romans 8:34.
disciples waited for the fulfillment of the promise, they humbled their
hearts in true repentance and confessed their unbelief. As they called to
remembrance the words that Christ had spoken to them before His death they
understood more fully their meaning. Truths which had passed from their
memory were again brought to their minds, and these they repeated to one
another. They reproached themselves for their misapprehension of the
Saviour. Like a procession, scene after scene of His wonderful life passed
before them. As they meditated upon His pure, holy life they felt that no
toil would be too hard, no sacrifice too great, if only they could bear
witness in their lives to the loveliness of Christ's character. Oh, if
they could but have the past three years to live over, they thought, how
differently they would act! If they could only see the Master again, how
earnestly they would strive to show Him how deeply they loved Him, and how
sincerely they sorrowed for having ever grieved Him by a word or an act of
unbelief! But they were comforted by the thought that they were forgiven.
And they determined that, so far as possible, they would atone for their
unbelief by bravely confessing Him before the world.
prayed with intense earnestness for a fitness to meet men and in their
daily intercourse to speak words that would lead sinners to Christ.
Putting away all differences, all desire for the supremacy, they came
close together in Christian fellowship. They drew nearer and nearer to
God, and as they did this they realized what a privilege had been theirs
in being permitted to associate so closely with Christ. Sadness filled
their hearts as they thought of how many times they had grieved Him by
their slowness of comprehension, their failure to understand the lessons
that, for their good, He was trying to teach them.
These days of
preparation were days of deep heart searching. The disciples felt their
spiritual need and cried to the Lord for the holy unction that was to fit
them for the work of soul saving. They did not ask for a blessing for
themselves merely. They were weighted with the burden of the salvation of
souls. They realized that the gospel was to be carried to the world, and
they claimed the power that Christ had promised.
patriarchal age the influence of the Holy Spirit had often been revealed
in a marked manner, but never in its fullness. Now, in obedience to the
word of the Saviour, the disciples offered their supplications for this
gift, and in heaven Christ added His intercession. He claimed the gift of
the Spirit, that He might pour it upon His people.
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."
came upon the waiting, praying disciples with a fullness that reached
every heart. The Infinite One revealed Himself in power to His church. It
was as if for ages this influence had been held in restraint, and now
Heaven rejoiced in being able to pour out upon the church the riches of
the Spirit's grace. And under the influence of the Spirit, words of
penitence and confession mingled with songs of praise for sins forgiven.
Words of thanksgiving and of prophecy were heard. All heaven bent low to
behold and to adore the wisdom of matchless, incomprehensible love. Lost
in wonder, the apostles exclaimed, "Herein is love." They
grasped the imparted gift. And what followed? The sword of the Spirit,
newly edged with power and bathed in the lightnings of heaven, cut its way
through unbelief. Thousands were converted in a day.
expedient for you that I go away," Christ had said to His disciples;
"for If I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I
depart, I will send Him unto you." "When He, the Spirit of
truth, is come, He will guide you into all truth: for He shall not speak
of Himself; but whatsoever He shall hear, that shall He speak: and He will
show you things to come." John 16:7, 13.
ascension to heaven was the signal that His followers were to receive the
promised blessing. For this they were to wait before they entered upon
their work. When Christ passed within the heavenly gates, He was enthroned
amidst the adoration of the angels. As soon as this ceremony was
completed, the Holy Spirit descended upon the disciples in rich currents,
and Christ was indeed glorified, even
with the glory which He had with the
Father from all eternity. The Pentecostal outpouring was Heaven's
communication that the Redeemer's inauguration was accomplished. According
to His promise He had sent the Holy Spirit from heaven to His followers as
a token that He had, as priest and king, received all authority in heaven
and on earth, and was the Anointed One over His people.
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." The
Holy Spirit, assuming the form of tongues of fire, rested upon those
assembled. This was an emblem of the gift then bestowed on the disciples,
which enabled them to speak with fluency languages with which they had
heretofore been unacquainted. The appearance of fire signified the fervent
zeal with which the apostles would labor and the power that would attend
were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under
heaven." During the dispersion the Jews had been scattered to almost
every part of the inhabited world, and in their exile they had learned to
speak various languages. Many of these Jews were on this occasion in
Jerusalem, attending the religious festivals then in progress. Every known
tongue was represented by those assembled. This diversity of languages
would have been a great hindrance to the proclamation of the gospel; God
therefore in a miraculous manner supplied the deficiency of the apostles.
The Holy Spirit did for them that which
they could not have accomplished
for themselves in a lifetime. They could now proclaim the truths of the
gospel abroad, speaking with accuracy the languages of those for whom they
were laboring. This miraculous gift was a strong evidence to the world
that their commission bore the signet of Heaven. From this time forth the
language of the disciples was pure, simple, and accurate, whether they
spoke in their native tongue or in a foreign language.
when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were
confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language.
And they were all amazed and marveled, saying one to another, Behold, are
not all these which speak Galileans? and how hear we every man in our own
tongue, wherein we were born?"
and rulers were greatly enraged at this wonderful manifestation, but they
dared not give way to their malice, for fear of exposing themselves to the
violence of the people. They had put the Nazarene to death; but here were
His servants, unlettered men of Galilee, telling in all the languages then
spoken, the story of His life and ministry. The priests, determined to
account for the miraculous power of the disciples in some natural way,
declared that they were drunken from partaking largely of the new wine
prepared for the feast. Some of the most ignorant of the people present
seized upon this suggestion as the truth, but the more intelligent knew it
to be false; and those who understood the different languages testified to
the accuracy with which these languages were used by the disciples.
In answer to
the accusation of the priests Peter showed that this demonstration was in
direct fulfillment of the prophecy of Joel, wherein he foretold that such
power would come upon men to fit them for a special work. "Ye men of
Judea, and all ye that dwell at Jerusalem," he said, "be this
known unto you, and hearken to my words: for these are not drunken, as ye
suppose, seeing it is but the third hour of the day. But this is that
which was spoken by the prophet Joel: And it shall come to pass in the
last days, saith God, I will pour out of My Spirit upon all flesh: and
your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see
visions, and your old men shall dream dreams: and on My servants and on My
handmaidens I will pour out in those days of My Spirit; and they shall
clearness and power Peter bore witness of the death and resurrection of
Christ: "Ye men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man
approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did
by Him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know: Him . . . ye have
taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain: whom God hath raised
up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that He
should be holden of it."
Peter did not
refer to the teachings of Christ to prove his position, because he knew
that the prejudice of his hearers was so great that his words on this
subject would be of no effect. Instead, he spoke to them of David, who was
regarded by the Jews as one of the patriarchs of their nation. "David
speaketh concerning Him," he declared: "I foresaw the
always before My face, for He is on My right hand, that I should not be
moved: therefore did My heart rejoice, and My tongue was glad; moreover
also My flesh shall rest in hope: because Thou wilt not leave My soul in
hell, neither wilt Thou suffer Thine Holy One to see corruption. . . .
brethren, let me freely speak unto you of the patriarch David, that he is
both dead and buried, and his sepulcher is with us unto this day."
"He . . . spake of the resurrection of Christ, that His soul was not
left in hell, neither His flesh did see corruption. This Jesus hath God
raised up, whereof we all are witnesses."
The scene is
one full of interest. Behold the people coming from all directions to hear
the disciples witness to the truth as it is in Jesus. They press in,
crowding the temple. Priests and rulers are there, the dark scowl of
malignity still on their faces, their hearts still filled with abiding
hatred against Christ, their hands uncleansed from the blood shed when
they crucified the world's Redeemer. They had thought to find the apostles
cowed with fear under the strong hand of oppression and murder, but they
find them lifted above all fear and filled with the Spirit, proclaiming
with power the divinity of Jesus of Nazareth. They hear them declaring
with boldness that the One so recently humiliated, derided, smitten by
cruel hands, and crucified, is the Prince of life, now exalted to the
right hand of God.
Some of those
who listened to the apostles had taken an active part in the condemnation
and death of Christ. Their voices had mingled with the rabble in calling
crucifixion. When Jesus and Barabbas stood before them in the
judgment hall and Pilate asked, "Whom will ye that I release unto
you?" they had shouted, "Not this Man, but Barabbas!"
Matthew 27:17; John 18:40. When Pilate delivered Christ to them, saying,
"Take ye Him, and crucify Him: for I find no fault in Him;"
"I am innocent of the blood of this just Person," they had
cried, "His blood be on us, and on our children." John 19:6;
Matthew 27:24, 25.
heard the disciples declaring that it was the Son of God who had been
crucified. Priests and rulers trembled. Conviction and anguish seized the
people. "They were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to
the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?" Among
those who listened to the disciples were devout Jews, who were sincere in
their belief. The power that accompanied the words of the speaker
convinced them that Jesus was indeed the Messiah.
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
home upon the convicted people the fact that they had rejected Christ
because they had been deceived by priests and rulers; and that if they
continued to look to these men for counsel, and waited for them to
acknowledge Christ before they dared to do so, they would never accept
Him. These powerful men, though making a profession
of godliness, were
ambitious for earthly riches and glory. They were not willing to come to
Christ to receive light.
influence of this heavenly illumination the scriptures that Christ had
explained to the disciples stood out before them with the luster of
perfect truth. The veil that had prevented them from seeing to the end of
that which had been abolished, was now removed, and they comprehended with
perfect clearness the object of Christ's mission and the nature of His
kingdom. They could speak with power of the Saviour; and as they unfolded
to their hearers the plan of salvation, many were convicted and convinced.
The traditions and superstitions inculcated by the priests were swept away
from their minds, and the teachings of the Saviour were accepted.
they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there
were added unto them about three thousand souls."
leaders had supposed that the work of Christ would end with His death;
but, instead of this, they witnessed the marvelous scenes of the Day of
Pentecost. They heard the disciples, endowed with a power and energy
hitherto unknown, preaching Christ, their words confirmed by signs and
wonders. In Jerusalem, the stronghold of Judaism, thousands openly
declared their faith in Jesus of Nazareth as the Messiah.
were astonished and overjoyed at the greatness of the harvest of souls.
They did not regard this wonderful ingathering as the result of their own
efforts; they realized that they were entering into other men's labors.
the fall of Adam, Christ had been committing to chosen servants the seed
of His word, to be sown in human hearts. During His life on this earth He
had sown the seed of truth and had watered it with His blood. The
conversions that took place on the Day of Pentecost were the result of
this sowing, the harvest of Christ's work, revealing the power of His
of the apostles alone, though clear and convincing, would not have removed
the prejudice that had withstood so much evidence. But the Holy Spirit
sent the arguments home to hearts with divine power. The words of the
apostles were as sharp arrows of the Almighty, convicting men of their
terrible guilt in rejecting and crucifying the Lord of glory.
training of Christ the disciples had been led to feel their need of the
Spirit. Under the Spirit's teaching they received the final qualification,
and went forth to their lifework. No longer were they ignorant and
uncultured. No longer were they a collection of independent units or
discordant, conflicting elements. No longer were their hopes set on
worldly greatness. They were of "one accord," "of one heart
and of one soul." Acts. 2:46; 4:32. Christ filled their thoughts; the
advancement of His kingdom was their aim. In mind and character they had
become like their Master, and men "took knowledge of them, that they
had been with Jesus." Acts 4:13.
brought them the heavenly illumination. The truths they could not
understand while Christ was with them were now unfolded. With a faith and
they had never before known, they accepted the teachings of
the Sacred Word. No longer was it a matter of faith with them that Christ
was the Son of God. They knew that, although clothed with humanity, He was
indeed the Messiah, and they told their experience to the world with a
confidence which carried with it the conviction that God was with them.
speak the name of Jesus with assurance; for was He not their Friend and
Elder Brother? Brought into close communion with Christ, they sat with Him
in heavenly places. With what burning language they clothed their ideas as
they bore witness for Him! Their hearts were surcharged with a benevolence
so full, so deep, so far-reaching, that it impelled them to go to the ends
of the earth, testifying to the power of Christ. They were filled with an
intense longing to carry forward the work He had begun. They realized the
greatness of their debt to heaven and the responsibility of their work.
Strengthened by the endowment of the Holy Spirit, they went forth filled
with zeal to extend the triumphs of the cross. The Spirit animated them
and spoke through them. The peace of Christ shone from their faces. They
had consecrated their lives to Him for service, and their very features
bore evidence to the surrender they had made.
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