So then, those who had received his word were baptized; and that day there were added about three thousand souls.Acts 2:41(NASB)
Throughout the ministry of John the Baptist, and for the three and a half years of Christ's earthly ministry to the lost sheep of the house of Israel, ISRAEL was being called to repent of their sins once again. They were warned to turn from their evil ways and return to God because their Messiah was in their midst. Indeed, for many hundreds of years, the cry of Jewish prophets had been 'repent'. The people of Israel were to change their outlook, to change their heart, to change the direction of their lives, and return to the Lord. They were to turn from their sinful apostasy back to faith in God. Israel was to repent as a nation and return to the true and living God Who brought them out of the land of Egypt - the true and living God Who died for them on Calvary's Cross.
Throughout the book of Judges, the people did evil in the sight of the Lord... but God always heard their cries and sent a 'saviour' to rescue them. Throughout their rebellions history and during their Babylonian captivity, the continuous call to Israel was to repent of their sin and return to the Lord, Who promised to send a Messiah to save them. But despite the ministry of John the Baptist and Jesus Himself, they continued in their sinful ways. They were called to repent, to turn back to God, to trust His Word, to forsake their evil ways, and be baptised in water - as the outward sign of an inward change of heart. Sadly, the majority ignored the call, which resulted in the rejection, betrayal, and crucifixion of their Messiah.
Before His death, Christ had told His disciples that the day would come when they would be baptised with the Holy Spirit. And following His resurrection, He once again reminded them that they would be baptised by the Spirit of God, "not many days hence." The day was fast approaching when the Holy Spirit would come to dwell inside them, as well as being with them. "The Spirit is WITH you and HE will be IN you," they were told. And on that day of Pentecost, we read that 120 faithful followers were all together in one place, "and were all filled with the Holy Spirit and started to proclaim the wonderful works of God in multiple languages, as the Spirit gave them utterance." They were BAPTISED into the Body of Christ and then FILLED with the Spirit, Who gave each one a spiritual GIFT.
This unique event happened on the day of Pentecost, and the Church, which is the Body of Christ, was born. Jews from all over the world were in Jerusalem to celebrate the 'Feast of Weeks', as commanded in the Mosaic Law. Imagine their astonishment and horror when they realised that the promised Messiah of Israel had already come... and been put to death! What a shock to realise that the prophecy given by the prophet Joel, was starting to be fulfilled - that very moment!
For many years these men of Israel had heard John the Baptist's call to 'repent'. They had witnessed the various signs and miracles that Jesus the Nazarene carried out... and they had heard His teachings and astonishing claims. They had even wondered if this Man was the promised Messiah. But although a faithful few believed that Jesus was the Christ, the anointed Son of God, many failed to repent of their sin and refused to turn back to the God of their forefathers.
Only a few weeks earlier Christ had wept over Jerusalem and lamented about Israel's unbelief and national apostasy. The kingdom of God He had come to set up would be taken from them and given to a future generation - a future generation of Israelites who would bring forth the fruits thereof. A coming generation of Jews would bring forth the fruit of repentance and cry out for salvation. A future generation would welcome Jesus as their Messiah-King and cry, "Blessed is He Who comes in the name of the Lord!" A remnant would be brought to repentance and restoration through Great Tribulation - a generation that would have to endure the Time of Jacob's Trouble.
Because the Nation, as a whole, did not repent of their sin, as warned by past prophets and Christ Himself, Israel was to be set aside for a season and God would continue to spread the good news of salvation through another set of servants - the Church. Sadly, the very Nation who had been chosen by God tell the world the gospel of the coming Kingdom of God, had to be replaced - for a season - by those who believed in the death, burial, and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ, for the salvation of their souls and the forgiveness of sin. From this time on, the gospel of the Grace of God would be taught by the One New Man in Christ - the Body of Christ - a New Creation, made up of Jew and Gentile believers.
But on that Day of Pentecost, thousands of Jews were cut to the heart because they realised that they had missed their Messiah and had crucified their King. He had risen from the dead, ascended into heaven, and was seated at the right hand of the Majesty on High. It was the great King David, who had prophesied, "the Lord said to my Lord, sit at My right hand until I make Your enemies Your footstool." And so, realising the shocking truth that they had missed their Messiah and crucified the King, these men of Israel cried out in desperation to Peter and the other disciples, "what must we do?"
Peter reiterated the same warning that past generations of God's chosen people had received for generations - REPENT of your sins. REPENT and turn back to the God of your forefathers. They were to have a baptism of REPENTANCE. But he added that they were also to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ Who was God incarnate - the Word made flesh. Israel were to turn back to the GOD of Israel through John's Baptism of Repentance and Israel as a nation, were to believe on Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins and life everlasting - and by so doing they too would be baptised by the Holy Spirit into Church, which is the Body of Christ, and they would receive the indwelling Spirit of God, as promised of old, at God's appointed time - (Pentecost).
And so, on that Day of Pentecost, we read that these men of Israel repented of their sins and were baptised. Because they repented of their sins and turned to Christ, they were also baptised by the Holy Spirit into the Body of Christ. We also read that they went through the waters of baptism for the repentance of sin - just as the prophets of old, John the Baptist, and Christ Himself had taught. The Jewish men were not only baptised by the Holy Spirit into the Body of Christ for their inward cleansing, but they also were baptised in water as the outward sign of this inner change of heart. And on that day, there were added about three thousand souls to the fledgling Church.
What a joyful day that must have been, when three thousand men of Israel repented of their sins, turned back to the God of their forefathers, and believed on the Lord Jesus Christ. They heard the good news of the gospel of grace. They were born-again into the family of God and baptised into the body of Christ by the Holy Spirit - and these men of Israel demonstrated their trust in the Lord Jesus for the forgiveness of sins and life-everlasting by going through the waters of baptism.
Heavenly Father, Your plans and purposes are unequalled. Thank You that You did not give up on the human race nor on the nation of Israel when Your only begotten Son was so shamefully rejected and cruelly crucified. Thank You for the message of the Cross and the glorious gospel of Grace - that Christ died and is risen for the forgiveness of sin and life everlasting. And thank You that I have been placed into the Body of Christ, by faith. How I praise You that the day is coming when, once again, the nation of Israel will fulfil their call to preach the wonderful gospel of the Kingdom throughout the world - and Jesus will one day return to set up His Kingdom on earth, as King of kings and Lord of lords. Praise His holy name, AMEN.
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