Acts 2: My Spirit On All People
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It is startling when something you expect to be restricted to an exclusive few, is made available to the many. Imagine a celebrity wedding banquet where children are suddenly invited, or an expensive concert that becomes free for everyone. The shock can be overwhelming. “Can I really go? Is this really for me?”. This was the reaction many people had when meeting Jesus.
Culturally, first century Jewish rabbis would engage with an exclusive set of people, committed to the pursuit of holiness and understanding of God and his ways. In contrast, Jesus, a teacher without peer, ate with sinners and tax collectors (Mark 2:16). He engaged with women, children, rich, poor, outcasts and even Gentiles. The religious leaders were shocked. So were Levi and Zacchaeus, Mary Magdalene, children and all the other infamous people Jesus, the son of God, ate and engaged with, declaring that God’s kingdom was for them.
In Acts 2 we witness another example of this pattern. Jewish people from various nations had gathered in Jerusalem to celebrate Pentecost. Suddenly, a rumour began to spread through Jerusalem about 120 men speaking about God in strange ways. The pilgrims who gathered around these men were startled. These Galilean men were proclaiming the wonders of God, the fulfilment of his promises, in their native tongues (Acts 2:11). Some were shocked into silence. Others ridiculed the event as a drunken mirage. So, the apostle Peter quietened the crowd and explained what was happening:
“In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people.” – Acts 2:17
Peter declares that the last days have begun. The long-awaited moment, when God would fulfil his great promises for Israel and the world through his messiah, had begun. The Holy Spirit, once reserved for God’s prophets and a special few, has been poured out on all God’s people, men and women, young and old, from nations far and wide, just as God had promised in Joel 2. Every believer would now enjoy intimacy with God and the power to fight sin and live holy lives with the security of eternal life.
Just imagine being there. No longer would there be the ‘Jerusalem Jews’ and ‘other Jews’. The crowds would be wondering, “Is the Holy Spirit really going to dwell in me?” Peter declares, “Yes!”
Peter then goes on to explain how this blessing is possible (Acts 2:22-36). God’s promised messiah is Jesus Christ, the son of God. His death sufficiently atoned for sins, even yours. But death could not contain him. God raised Jesus to be the mediator of God’s promised blessing of salvation. Peter declares that Jesus is alive and sits at God’s side, distributing the benefits of salvation seen in the forgiveness of sins and the provision of the Spirit to everyone who believes. The crucified, resurrected, and ascended Jesus is Lord and Christ.
Imagine being there. Many would have been shocked. “Could someone like me be saved?”. But God’s work in the last days is not simply aimed to shock or startle. It demanded a response. So Peter replied to the crowd in Acts 2:38:
“Peter replied, ‘Repent and be baptised, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.’” – Acts 2:38
The blessings of salvation are now available to people who repent of their sins and place their trust in the risen Jesus who is Lord and Christ. And Peter continued with one more startling comment:
“The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.” – Acts 2:39
Salvation is not for the exclusive few. It is for those who are far away from Jerusalem, far away from God. Acts 2 is a preview of Acts 10 where God’s promise of salvation is expanded to all nations—including non-Jews. This is a reality which even startled Peter.
God’s salvation is for everyone whom the Lord calls to himself. This includes children and teenagers who can receive the Holy Spirit and forgiveness of sins—just like you and me.
Young people need to hear the gospel of Jesus as much as everyone else. What are the barriers stopping young people hearing about the risen King Jesus? How can we prioritise sharing the person and work of Jesus with all ages? There is no Christian exclusivity in the last days. God’s gospel is going out to everyone, especially young people.
The Lift Up Your Hearts devotional series for the month of March 2021 are provided by Canon Craig Roberts, CEO, and his colleagues from Anglican Youthworks in Australia. Today’s devotion was written by Rev. Ed Springer, Head of Youthworks Ministry Support. You can find more of Youthworks excellent resources here.
Pray with us today's prayer request:
In June 2020, Bishop Jean Pierre Methode Rukundo was consecrated as a missionary bishop in the new diocese of Karongi in Rwanda. There are many challenges in setting up a new diocese during a pandemic! Please pray: for the training of new ministers; completing his home; for God's protection in these troubled times; and most of all for the power of the Holy Spirit for preaching the gospel and nurturing believers.
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