2:41 Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them. 42 And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers.
7 weeks before this it appeared that the entire nation was against Jesus. With mob like frenzy they cried "Crucify Him!"
Mobs are a strange phenomenon. In recent years it has become all too common for sports fans to pour out into the streets after a huge win or loss in the playoffs and start lighting fires and overturning cars and generally wreaking havoc. Normal everyday people get caught up in the nonsense and do things they would never normally do.
7 weeks earlier this same crowd had come to Jerusalem for Passover and now they are back for Pentecost. 7 weeks ago they participated in the death of Jesus. Now three thousand are getting baptized and joining The Way. What happened? Can seven weeks make that much difference? In a word - no.
The change didn't happen in seven weeks. It happened in a moment and yet the roots of the change were years deep. When you read the gospels carefully you will find Jesus always went to Jerusalem during Passover and taught in the Temple. Why? Because it gave Him an opportunity to speak to Jews from all over the world. For the three previous years they heard Him. His words were provocative, new, and stayed with them like a rock in your shoe. His teachings were both intriguing and scandalous. As each year passed the opposition against Him grew, especially from the religious leaders. Eventually it became forbidden to openly admit you were a follower of Jesus or even a sympathizer. It meant being kicked out of the synagogue and black listed by the community like the blind man in John chapter nine.
A figure as controversial as Jesus left many people secretly undecided. They couldn't figure Him out. He was so different. So intense. So kind. So obviously extraordinary. On the other hand He was so unorthodox. So unlike everything they had been taught to expect. So unlike the religious leaders. It was all so confusing.
Seven weeks earlier it finally came to a head. Passover became an execution. Many if not most in the crowd were still unsure but they got caught up in the mass hysteria. Surely so many people couldn't be wrong... right? That's why Jesus prayed "Forgive them Father for they don't know what they are doing."
Now seven weeks later much has happened and the rumors of His resurrection have circulated widely. The miraculous strange events of that Passover Friday would never leave their memories. Pitch black at noon. An earthquake like they had never experienced. The dead coming alive from their tombs. I wonder how the Sadducees, the largest and most political sect of the Jews who taught there was no life after death explained that one?
For the past seven weeks the entire nation has been in tumult and confusion. No longer could anyone deny that He was Someone and something was happening of deep significance. Then Pentecost came. The feast of the first fruits. The time every year when the first ripe produce was gleaned from the fields and offered to God as a thank offering for His constant provision.
As the awoke that morning a mighty wind ripped through the city. Buildings shook. Fire came down and rested on the 120 gathered in a room waiting for the Promise. Peter addressed the crowd who flooded into the streets to see what was happening. God brought the crowd. Jesus had prepared them. His Spirit had been speaking to them.
As Peter spoke the puzzle pieces flew together. The confusion was washed away. Suddenly it all made sense. Jesus was not a madman. He was not a religious fanatic set on destroying the faith of their fathers. He was the Lamb of God. He was the Son of God. He was the ram caught in the thorns that took the place of Isaac. He was the bread of life come down from heaven. He was the fulfillment of all that Moses and the prophets wrote about.
They had killed their Messiah and in one moment it all became clear. 3000 immediately asked to be baptized. They were the first fruits of millions more to come. Still today they come. On August 16th I will have the privilege of baptizing another who has found Him. Last night I met with two more who have found Him. The harvesting continues. The Story keeps unfolding. Soon He who we pierced will return. This time it will be to gather His entire people - All who have found Him to be the Way, the Truth, and the Life.
As the hymn writer wrote: What a Day, Glorious Day That Will Be!