The book of Acts tells the story of how the church formed. It’s an amazing story. And, when you take the time to think about what happened in between the recorded events an amazing story becomes...Well, supernaturally awesome!
This Sunday we are starting a series called Devoted. Our core scripture for this series is Acts 2:42-47. As we prepare for Sunday I want to take a moment to share some insights about "what happened in between the recored events."
The story takes place in the city of Jerusalem. Jerusalem wasn’t that large of a city, roughly 1 square mile. To help you understand the size, I live in Shawnee Kansas, roughly 43 sq miles. The size was big issue because although small, Jerusalem was the place where every Jew traveled to worship at least 3 times of the year. Many of these Jews no longer lived in Jerusalem and had moved to surrounding countries (these Jews were referred to as the Diaspora - Jews living outside of Israel).
When the Diaspora joined the Jerusalem citizens for these festivals, the city was PACKED.
People would be everywhere.
Even sleeping in the streets.
Get this…And not just for a couple of days. Two of these festivals were 7 weeks apart (Passover and Shavout a.k.a. the Day of Pentecost). Many couldn’t afford the travel expenses so they would simple stay in Jerusalem for the full 7 weeks.
Okay…So we have a packed 1 square mile city.
People are everywhere.
Parking was a nightmare. (insert silly Bible joke)
"You didn’t know Jesus had a car? The Bible say that Jesus and his disciples arrived in one Accord.”
People are everywhere.
People are talking.
7 weeks earlier a radical rabbi, named Jesus, was crucified for claiming God was his Father.
Then…3 days after his crucification his disciples began saying that he has resurrected from the dead.
Not only that, around 500 people were claiming that they had also seen this resurrected Jesus.
The city buzzing like never before.
On this specific day, exactly 7 weeks after Jesus was crucified (Passover), all of the Jewish people are making their way to the Temple for worship. This Holy Day is called Shavout, where people gather to celebrate God giving the Law to Moses atop Mt. Sinai.
The streets are filled with people walking to the Temple.
But then something happens.
In a house along the way there is a odd commotion.
That people stop walking and start staring.
All of the sudden men, not necessarily the most important of men, some fishermen, a tax collector, and other ordinary folks start to talk.
And, in OTHER LANGUAGES.
Here’s where it gets interesting.
All of this Diaspora (Jews living outside of Israel) hear ordinary men speaking the language of the people back home.
There is great confusion!
Hearing these men talk about God in their native language is baffling.
Peter, one of the disciples, seizes the opportunity and gives the first ever Sunday morning sermon.
And it was GOOD!
So good that someone from the crowd said, “What should we do?”
Someone asked…So Peter told them.
“Repent, and each one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”
On that day.
3,000 people devoted themselves to God through faith that Jesus, who lived, was crucified, and lived again was indeed their source of salvation.
Get this…Before Peter’s message there were around 120 disciples.
Immediately after this we come to Acts 2:42-47
"All the believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship, and to sharing in meals (including the Lord’s Supper), and to prayer. 43 A deep sense of awe came over them all, and the apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders. 44 And all the believers met together in one place and shared everything they had. 45 They sold their property and possessions and shared the money with those in need. 46 They worshiped together at the Temple each day, met in homes for the Lord’s Supper, and shared their meals with great joy and generosity— 47 all the while praising God and enjoying the goodwill of all the people. And each day the Lord added to their fellowship those who were being saved."
Here’s something that I think is easy to overlook.
I bet a lot of those 3,000 new followers of Jesus didn’t live in Jerusalem (Diaspora).
I also bet that they didn’t soon leave.
They didn’t go back home.
I think they stayed.
I think the disciples had a great big mess on their hands.
How in the world are we supposed to take care of 3,000+ people?!?
I think it were those how had homes far away who mainly “sold their property and possessions."
Now that’s devotion!
Here’s a thought.
What would it be like to have a faith like that.
What would it be like to be stirred by the Good News of Jesus in such a way that it radically changes your life.
What would it be like it you were so devoted to God that you...
I’ll let you finish that sentence.
See you on Sunday…Fully Devoted