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 own ministry to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.. the Jews were being called to repent of their sins. They were warned to turn away from their sin and return back to God, because their Messiah King was in their midst. Indeed, for many hundreds of years the cry from the prophets to Israel had been 'repent'. The people of Israel were to change their outlook.. to change their heart .. to change the direction of their lives and to turn away from their sinful apostasy and back to the true and living God, Who brought them out of the land of Egypt.
Throughout the book of Judges the people did evil in the sight of the Lord.. but God always heard their cries and each time He sent a saviour to rescue His people. Throughout their rebellions history and throughout their Babylonian captivity, the continuous call to Israel was to repent of their sins - to turn back to the Lord, Who promised to send a Messiah to save them from their sin. But despite the ministry of John the Baptist and Christ Himself.. the call for inner, heart-repentance.. and water-baptism as the outward sign of their inward change-of-heart, continued to be ignored by the majority - which finally resulted in the rejection, betrayal and crucifixion of their Messiah King.
Before His death Christ had told His disciples that the day would come when they would be baptised with the Holy Spirit.. and so following His resurrection the Lord Jesus Christ reminded His disciples that they would be baptised by the Spirit of God.. not many days hence. He would come to dwell inside them as well as being with them.. And on the day of Pentecost we read that 120 faithful followers of Christ were all together in one place.. and they 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.
This unique event happened on that special day of Pentecost, when 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.. which was commanded of all male Jews in the Mosaic Law. Image their astonishment and shock to realise that the promised Messiah had already come.. and had been put to death.. and that the prophecy that had been given to Israel from the prophet Joel was being fulfilled that very moment.
For years many these men of Israel had heard the call of John the Baptist 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 even knew that many were wondering if this Man was the promised Messiah. But although a faithful few believed that Jesus was the Messiah of Israel and anointed Son of God.. many more failed to repent of their sins and turn back to the God of their forefathers.
Only a few weeks earlier Christ had wept over Jerusalem and lamented that because of Israel's unbelief and national apostasy.. the kingdom of God, that Christ had come to set up, would be taken from them, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof. That 'nation' was not a gentile nation from one of the surrounding countries but a spiritual Body.. that would be made up of Jew and Gentile believers in Christ.. This new group would themselves become ministers of the new and better covenant.. that had been promised to Israel long ago, by the prophets of old. They would be the ones through whom God would now reach His lost and dying world.
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 to go into all the world and tell the nations of the good news of the kingdom of God and His great salvation, 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 their sins.
But now, thousands of Jews, who had heard the news of Jesus of Nazareth were cut to the heart because they realised that they had missed their Messiah, and crucified their King.. Who had risen from the dead, ascended into heaven and was at that very moment seated at the right hand of the Majesty on High. It was the great King David, who had prophesised.. 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 promised Messiah, these men of Israel cried out in desperation to Peter and the other followers of Christ.. 'what shall we do?'
Peter reiterated the same warning that Israel as a nation had received from generations of God's prophets.. REPENT of your sins. REPENT and turn back to the God of your forefathers. Repent.. and be baptised every one of you. But he added that they were also to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.. Who was God incarnate.. the Word made flesh.. Turn back to the GOD of Israel and believe on His Christ for the forgiveness of sins and life everlasting - for by so doing they too would be baptised by the Holy Spirit into the Body of Christ and receive the indwelling Spirit of God, as promised of old
And so we read that these men of Israel repented of their sins and were baptised. They not only finally repented of their sins but they were also baptised by the Spirit into the body of Christ. We read that they went through the waters of baptism.. 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.. but they also were baptised in water as the outward sign of their change of direction and faith in God and His Christ. 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 forefather.. 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 demonstrating their commitment 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.. 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 that Jesus will one day return as King of kings and Lord of lords. AMEN.