Dear RCF Sisters and Brothers,
The whole of the nation of Israel, but especially the city of Jerusalem, had been simmering in tension for over three years. At the Passover festival more than three years earlier a prophet from Nazareth named Jesus had accused and physically thrown out the religious traders in the Temple. He then began to heal people who were blind, lame, deaf, etc. – inside of the Temple. No one had ever done such miracles…ever. For the next three years the miracles continued throughout the nation. His teachings undermined the Jewish religious authorities in both the Temple and synagogues. The populace was certain that He was a prophet of God, and every day more were believing Him to be the long-promised Son of David, the Messiah.
In a seemingly impossible twist of fate, when it was believed by most of the Jews that Jesus of Nazareth would be enthroned as Israel’s King, they awoke on Passover morning to learn that the Romans had crucified Him. They believed that their priests and other religious leaders were somehow involved in His execution. But nevertheless, His death seemed to prove that they had been wrong. The Nazarene was not the Messiah.
But three days after His crucifixion the word spread like wildfire that Jesus had risen from the dead and was that He was being seen by many of His previous disciples. In the following weeks people in Jerusalem received the news that Jesus was in Galilee and was being seen by large crowds. Then it was reported that He was back in Jerusalem with His disciples and that He had just recently visibly risen up into heaven. The following week Jesus’ disciples were seen daily in the Temple, surprisingly unafraid of the nation’s religious leaders and the Romans.
One week later, in the early morning on the festival day of Pentecost, there was a sound from heaven that startled the whole city of Jerusalem. It may have been like the noise that sounded from heaven onto Mount Sinai when God gave their ancestors the Law. The disciples of Jesus mixed with the terrified crowd, speaking about what God was doing. However each person, no matter what nation they were from, heard them speak in their own native dialect. A disciple of Jesus named Peter rose and called the massive crowd to know that what they were experiencing was the fulfilment of the Old Testament promise of the giving of the Holy Spirit. He declared that Jesus was their Messiah, but that He died as a sacrifice for their sins and rose from the dead as they all knew. He was now enthroned in heaven at God’s right hand.
Peter declared that they needed to repent and believe in Jesus to have God forgive their sins and save them. Three thousand men did and affirmed their belief by being baptised by Jesus’ disciples in the pools in and around Jerusalem that very day. A new community inside of Israel was begun. The tension continued in the city between those who believed that Jesus was God’s Messiah and those who did not…and Everyone wondered how the nation’s religious leaders would respond.
Join us this Sunday morning as we continue in the theme “To The Remotest Part of the Earth,” and our Discussion Bible Study in the History of the Early Church. Please prepare by reading the entirety of Acts 3. This week’s title is “The First Official Pushback Is Pushed-Back”.
Attached is an outline of the text we will be focusing upon this Sunday morning. Please print it ahead of time, as it will help you take part in the discussion.
Here is the Table Discussion Question for Sunday:
If you were one of Israel’s leaders/aristocrats, what would your thoughts and feelings be about the events on Pentecost and in the following weeks?
In this series we have already discussed the following texts and topics:
The New Era Begins: Acts 1:12-2:21
Who is to Blame for Good Friday? Acts 2:22-23
The New Community Begins: Acts 2:24-47
We hope that you will join us online this Sunday morning!
We love you all!
Jim and Jenny