Jesus returned to heaven, he told his followers, "Now I must
leave you and go to my Father. I will send the Holy Spirit to be
with you. Stay in Jerusalem until you receive the Holy
to Jerusalem his followers went. Just a few weeks before when
Jesus was seized, they had been terrified. What if they were
arrested too? In fear they
had hidden or run away.
followers were no longer afraid. They were changed men. They did
what the Master said without question. They had seen the risen
Lord! Joy and hope filled their hearts. How glad they were to be
Ten days after
Jesus ascended to heaven, the Jews celebrated the feast of the
harvest, called Pentecost. All Jerusalem was filled with strangers
from every part of the world. People of many languages gathered at
the temple to thank God for their good harvest.
This time the
followers of Jesus did not go to the temple to observe the feast.
On hundred and twenty of them met in an upper room to pray and
wait for the Holy Spirit.
happened. No one knows exactly how, but the Holy Spirit came upon
them. They heard the sound of a might rushing wind and saw little
tongues of fire on the head of each person.
At once they
began to praise God. Every trace of fear was gone. They had a new
boldness and courage to tell others that Jesus was really the
Christ, and that they were his followers.
Soon the noise of
their rejoicing was heard in the street below. People stopped to
listen and see what was happening. The followers of Jesus left the
upper room and went into the street below. They had to tell others
about the Savior. As they praised God, even the foreigners
understood, for each person heard his own language.
looked at each other in amazement. "What does this
mean?" they asked. "We hear these men speaking in our
own languages, but they have lived in Galilee all their lives.
Have they studied our languages?"
In the crowd were Jews from Jerusalem. They had been there when
Jesus was crucified and when he rose from the grave. They recognized these happy people as followers of Jesus. Turning to the
crowd that looked on, the Jews said, "These followers of Jesus must
be drunk. We've never seen them act like this before."
Peter overheard. Boldly he stood up where all the people could
see him. "Men of Jerusalem and all Judea," he said, "we are not drunk as you suppose, but we have received a great blessing from
God." But Peter did not stop with that. He preached to them about Jesus.
The people listened as they had never listened before. They were hearing Peter with their hearts as well as with their ears. How sorry
and ashamed they were to have had a part in crucifying Jesus! They
felt so guilty that they cried out, "Men and brethren, what shall we do to be saved?"
Peter replied, "Repent, every one of you, for your sins and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Your sins will be forgiven
and you will receive the Holy Spirit. The gift of the Holy Spirit is not given just to us but to every one who believes on the Lord."
And many people did repent and find forgiveness. That day three.
thousand were baptized. How happy they were! They rejoiced greatly because their sins had been forgiven.
By the power of the Holy Spirit the apostles worked many signs
and wonders in Jerusalem. Fear fell on the people who saw and heard. Every day more believers were added to their number. Soon
there was a great company of believers.
Those who believed on Jesus sold what they owned and divided
their money with those who were poor. Each day they met to praise and worship God in the temple. Many people believed when
they saw and heard these followers of Jesus, and the Lord added to
the church daily those who were being saved.
That was the beginning of the first Christian church, or the "church
of God," as it is called in the Scriptures.