“Hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know – this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men.”
I heard Peter preach during Pentecost (Shavuot) as he stood in an upper room. His big voice boomed out, speaking amazing things, words that changed my life and my husband’s. I could hardly believe this was the same boy who grew up in Capernaum alongside my cousins. He was outspoken in a boisterous kind of way, but I never imagined he would one day speak to crowds with such authority. His voice was filled with conviction, and Peter was bold in what he said about this Jesus he had left his fishing business to follow.
Our family visited relatives in Capernaum every year. The lake was practically in their back yard and, when we were children, we enjoyed going down to the waterfront where the fishermen mended nets and readied their boats for the day. Peter, who was called Simon, often helped his father, who was also a fisherman. I remember seeing him talking with the fishermen and helping them whenever he wasn’t working with his father. He seemed to be such an ordinary boy.
Well, here was Peter, all grown up and talking about Jesus, saying things we had never heard before. If this was true, then I needed to pay attention.
Peter, surrounded by eleven of the men who also followed Jesus bar Joseph, spoke to those who lived in Judea and other areas. There were some in the crowd who thought the whole bunch of them were drunk. Others were amazed because they heard Peter speaking in their language. My husband and I were amazed. We knew Peter and, as far as we knew, he did not know another language. He had grown up on the Galilean Sea.
But there he was, preaching boldly and saying, “Let this be known to you and give ear to my words. For these people are not drunk, as you suppose since it is only the third hour of the day.”
He then told what had been prophesied by the prophet Joel, how in the last days God’s Spirit would be poured out on all flesh, even on women. Peter told how Joel had said that anyone who called upon the Lord would be saved.
Peter said, “God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death because it was not possible for him to be held by it.”
Upon hearing those words, my heart burned within me, and I fell to my knees, weeping. I knew I had heard the truth about God, and I desperately wanted to be saved, even though I was not exactly sure what being saved really meant. But I knew that I wanted to know. My husband stood over me with hands raised, as he cried out to our Heavenly Father, “Oh my God, my God! Forgive me. Please!”
We were not the only ones who were cut to the heart hearing Peter’s words. Many others who were standing there cried out to Peter and to the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?”
Peter told them, “Repent and be baptized 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. For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord calls to himself.”
Not only did my husband and I receive salvation and were baptized, but more than three thousand souls were added to the kingdom of God that day. Just imagine, those who were from foreign parts had good news to take home with them.
The angel, on the night of the birth of our Messiah, was right. He did come for all people, not just for the Jews. Even Gentiles are joint-heirs with our Lord.
The church of Jesus Christ was born that day, and those new believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship. The Lord added members to His church, daily.
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Father God, thank You for my salvation and for empowering me to share Your Word. Help me to be faithful to Your calling. I desire as the apostles did, to help others to know Your Son Jesus Christ and to receive the gift of salvation You’ve provided through Him. Amen.
Genre: Creative biblical non-fiction
Copyright 2021: The Birth of the Church: Evelyn Mason Wells: All Rights Reserved