In order to realize the extreme breakthrough that Pentecost was to the disciples and to the first century followers of Jesus, we look to Peter. I love Peter because he often reminds me of myself.
Peter never held back: he was the first one to jump out of the water to walk on it; he was the first one to declare that Jesus was the Messiah, the Son of the Living God; he was the first one to cut off the slave’s ear in the Garden of Gethsemane while Jesus was being arrested. Peter was full of passion for Jesus and life! Sometimes that got him in trouble, but life was never dull when Peter was around.
He was also the first one to declare that he was willing to die with Jesus. That’s a pretty bold statement, and I am sure he believed it when he said it. However, when push came to shove, after cutting off the slave’s ear, he ended up running away from Jesus, not dying for him.
He didn’t run far, however. He ended up in the courtyard of the High Priest where Jesus was being interrogated. His friend John got him in. Within minutes, a servant girl asked Peter if he was one of Jesus’ followers. Peter denied it. A little while later, she brought it up again in front of others. Peter said emphatically, “I don’t’ know what you are talking about.”
About an hour later, some of the others in the courtyard said, “You must know him because you have the Galilean accent. “ Peter actually said “A curse on me if I am lying, I do not know the man” (Mark 14).
Now, let me ask you something, does this seem like a man ready to go to his death for Jesus? No, Peter got filled with fear and it immobilized him. He experienced the heartache of Jesus turning and looking at him as the rooster crowed, just as Jesus had prophesied.
Peter ran away and cried bitter tears. He knew that he had allowed fear to overcome his faith, and he had betrayed the most important person in his life at his moment of greatest need.
Let’s fast forward to the day of Pentecost. Where do we find Peter? He is cowering in a room out of fear any longer; he is in the center of the action. He has run from the Upper Room into the Temple Courtyard as he experiences the Holy Spirit entering his body and sealing himself within Peter.
It is with that supernatural empowerment that Peter is able to stand up and give a great sermon: one that I would love to give: over 3,000 people give their lives to Jesus and become baptized after it. The first People Harvest of Pentecost has taken place!
If that isn’t proof of a transformed man, the following chapters in Acts shows us the new Peter; one that isn’t afraid of anything. Peter and his friend John are arrested after healing a lame man who sat begging for 38 years in front of the Temple Gate Beautiful.
Peter and John are tried before the highest authority in their earthly world: the High Priest and Jewish Rulers; this would be like us meeting with the Supreme Court. They were told that they were forbidden to talk or teach about Jesus again. Acts 5 tells us that “Peter filled with the Holy Spirit answered them and said that ‘We will obey God rather than you. We cannot stop telling about the wonderful things that we have seen and heard.’”
If this isn’t enough, Peter and John went immediately on their release to their praying friends and told them the story. They told them about the threat to not talk about Jesus again, and the whole room started praying.
Listen to their prayer and imagine how you would respond if your life had just been threatened: them “And now, O Lord, hear their threats, and give us, your servants, great boldness in preaching your word. 30 Stretch out your hand with healing power; may miraculous signs and wonders be done through the name of your holy servant Jesus.”
Peter not only didn’t back down to their threats, he prayed for greater boldness to continue to proclaim Jesus and pray for his miracles to take place through him so that others would come to know Jesus too.
The passage concludes with God’s answer to their prayer: “After this prayer, the meeting place shook, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit. Then they preached the word of God with boldness” (Acts 4:29-31).
How did Peter move from a fearful disciple to a fearless witness? He did it through the “Holy Spirit who moved into body and took up residence within him.” He was no longer an ordinary man doing ordinary things; now, he was a harvesting representative of Jesus himself because Peter’s life began to look a lot like Jesus’ life on earth.
It is the same with us. We are no longer ordinary people doing ordinary things; no, we are kingdom representatives for King Jesus. We have the supernatural empowerment that Peter did. We have the ability to stand before rulers of every land as we witness to Jesus’ saving power, and his ability to heal and deliver.
The more that we make space for God to work in our lives; focusing on his power within us, and not our own inadequacies, we will see greater and greater harvest and miracles take place.
The more that we align our mind with God’s Word, rather than our own messages or what the world tells us; the more that we will see supernatural empowerment take us into business meetings, raising our children, serving our community and celebrating Jesus in worship.
Take time Sunday to celebrate the birth of the New Testament Church with Pentecost. Study Acts 1-2. Spend time reflecting on Peter and his miraculous transformation. Let the Lord show you where he has transformed you. Recognize the reality of his Presence within you. Reflect on 2nd Corinthians 3:7-18.
And, if you live in the Seattle area, come to Meet God on the Mountain as we celebrate Pentecost~you may never be the same! See www.missiolux.org for more details!