They Did Jehovah’s Will
Peter Preaches at Pentecost
IT WAS a mild spring morning in the year 33 C.E. The air was charged with excitement! A bustling crowd of Jews and proselytes flooded the streets of Jerusalem. They had come from such places as Elam, Mesopotamia, Cappadocia, Egypt, and Rome. How fascinating it was to see them in their native attire and to hear their varied languages! Some had traveled more than a thousand miles [almost two thousand kilometers] to be present for this special occasion. What was it? Pentecost—a joyous Jewish festival marking the end of the barley harvest.—Leviticus 23:15-21.
Smoke billowed from offerings on the temple altar, and the Levites sang the Hallel (Psalms 113 to 118). Just before 9:00 a.m., something startling happened. From heaven, there occurred “a noise just like that of a rushing stiff breeze.” It filled the whole house in which about 120 disciples of Jesus Christ were gathered. Says the Scriptural account: “Tongues as if of fire became visible to them and were distributed about, and one sat upon each one of them, and they all became filled with holy spirit and started to speak with different tongues, just as the spirit was granting them to make utterance.”—Acts 2:1-4.
Each One Hears His Own Language
Soon, many disciples were streaming out of the house. Amazingly, they could speak in the various languages of the crowd! Imagine how surprising it was when a visitor from Persia and a native of Egypt heard their own languages spoken by Galileans. Understandably, the crowd was in awe. “What does this thing purport to be?” they asked. Some began to mock the disciples, saying: “They are full of sweet wine.”—Acts 2:12, 13.
Next the apostle Peter stood up and addressed the crowd. He explained that this miraculous gift of tongues was in fulfillment of God’s promise through the prophet Joel: “I shall pour out some of my spirit upon every sort of flesh.” (Acts 2:14-21; Joel 2:28-32) Yes, God had just poured out his holy spirit upon Jesus’ disciples. This was clear evidence that Jesus had been raised from the dead and was now in heaven at God’s right hand. “Therefore,” said Peter, “let all the house of Israel know for a certainty that God made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you impaled.”—Acts 2:22-36.
How did the listeners react? “They were stabbed to the heart,” the account says, “and they said to Peter and the rest of the apostles: ‘Men, brothers, what shall we do?’” Peter replied: “Repent, and let each one of you be baptized.” About 3,000 did just that! Thereafter, “they continued devoting themselves to the teaching of the apostles.”—Acts 2:37-42.
By taking the lead on this monumental occasion, Peter used the first of “the keys of the kingdom of the heavens” that Jesus had promised to give to him. (Matthew 16:19) These keys opened up special privileges to different groups of people. This first key made it possible for Jews to become spirit-anointed Christians. Later, the second and third keys made this same opportunity available to Samaritans and to Gentiles respectively.—Acts 8:14-17; 10:44-48.
Lessons for Us
Although this crowd of Jews and proselytes bore community responsibility for the death of God’s Son, Peter addressed them with respect, calling them “brothers.” (Acts 2:29) His goal was to move them to repentance, not to condemn them. Therefore, his approach was positive. He presented the facts and backed up his points with Scripture quotations.
Those who preach the good news today do well to follow Peter’s example. They should try to establish common ground with their listeners and then tactfully reason with them from the Scriptures. When Bible truth is presented in a positive manner, the righthearted will respond.—Acts 13:48.
Peter’s zeal and boldness on the day of Pentecost stand out in stark contrast to his denial of Jesus some seven weeks earlier. On that occasion Peter was paralyzed by fear of man. (Matthew 26:69-75) But Jesus had made supplication in Peter’s behalf. (Luke 22:31, 32) Doubtless, Jesus’ post-resurrection appearance to Peter strengthened the apostle. (1 Corinthians 15:5) As a result, Peter’s faith did not give out. Within a short time, he was boldly preaching. So, then, he preached not only at Pentecost but for the rest of his life.
What if we have erred in some way, even as Peter did? Let us manifest repentance, pray for forgiveness, and take steps to get spiritual help. (James 5:14-16) Then we can move ahead with confidence that our sacred service is acceptable to our merciful heavenly Father, Jehovah.—Exodus 34:6.