Our reading for Friday, May 3, 2019 is Acts 2:22-36.
22 “Men of Israel, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know. 23 This man was handed over to you by God’s set purpose and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross. 24 But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him. 29 “Brothers, I can tell you confidently that the patriarch David died and was buried, and his tomb is here to this day. 30 But he was a prophet and knew that God had promised him on oath that he would place one of his descendants on his throne. 31 Seeing what was ahead, he spoke of the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to the grave, nor did his body see decay. 32 God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of the fact. 33 Exalted to the right hand of God, he has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and has poured out what you now see and hear. 34 For David did not ascend to heaven, and yet he said, “‘The Lord said to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand 35 until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.” ‘ 36 “Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.” – NIV
Miraculous events accompanied the descending of the Holy Spirit upon the disciples at Pentecost. They included the sound of a mighty rushing wind and what appeared to be flames of fire that rested upon the disciples. We are studying the Book of Ezekiel during our Monday afternoon Bible Study. In two places where it describes the prophet’s vision of God’s glory there is a portrait of angels (cherubim) that are included. In each description the mention of a rushing wind created by the movement of the wings from these four beings is given. It is not farfetched to relate this to the experience of the disciples at Pentecost. God was present and the sound of the rushing wind they heard must have been that from the wings of God’s cherubim.
The tongues of fire represented the holiness that should be expected from the touch of God’s presence. Moses was privileged to witness God in the presence of a burning bush which was not consumed by the flames (Ex. 3:2). Isaiah’s vision of the Shekinah Glory that brought the prophet to his knees in confession of his sinfulness describes how one of these angelic beings brought a burning ember from a fire to touch his lips and declare him pure and fit for use as a prophet of God (Is. 6:6). Ezekiel’s vision also included a coal brought to him from amidst the spinning wheels of his vision representing God’s holiness and our need for purification by God (Ez. 1; 10:6).
Following these signs displayed among the Lords disciples at Pentecost it is no wonder that a crowd gathered and gave their attention to the disciples. It was a divine event intended to give witness to the truth of Christ through the disciples. We do not know exactly the message they gave that day, only that they were enabled to present it in the diverse languages of the people who gathered from various parts of the Roman world. The Holy Spirit was the translator but we can be certain that each disciple’s testimony was similar and consistent with that of Peter’s we do have provided for us in this morning’s passage.
There are three aspects to Peter’s message so very important for us to reflect upon. The first is who Jesus was and what he did – miracles, wonders and signs – which we read of in the Gospels. These attest to our claim that he is God’s Son, the promised Messiah to Israel. The second is the fact that those in the crowd who were visiting Jerusalem for the celebration of the Passover were complicit in his crucifixion. They either ignored the events that ended with Jesus’ death or they joined their voice with the crowd which demanded his crucifixion. Even should they have casually observed the injustice of his trial, conviction and execution they were accomplices by their silence.
The third aspect to consider was his resurrection which the disciples claimed to have witnessed. While the truth of his identity was attested to by the miraculous things he accomplished in life and ministry, there is to be considered the miracles surrounding his resurrection, and further what God accomplished in the disciples the day of Pentecost and their ministry that followed as is recorded in the Book of Acts and secular history. To neglect or intentionally ignore the weight of historical evidence reveals ignorance or stubborn resistance to the truth.
To further seal the deal of certainty Peter provides the additional testimony of prophecy from the Old Testament by lifting up two passages regarding King David which showed how the king was making reference to a coming King vastly superior to himself who would be sent from God. The mostly Jewish audience would have connected to that prophetic testimony against the claims being made about Jesus. It is no wonder that as a result of Peter’s preaching three thousand gave their lives to Jesus as their Savior and Lord.
These facts remain valid for us today and should move us with confidence to assert the same message boldly to others who may not know him so they could also receive the invitation of the Holy Spirit to embrace him as their Savior and Lord. May we hear the rushing sound of angel wings and be touched by the purifying coals of God so we might become the prophets of our day to our neighbors.