Peter’s first sermon on the Day of Pentecost was powerful and effective (Acts 2:13-36). It reflects the change the Holy Spirit made in Peter’s life, for prior to this, he was the impulsive, big-hearted disciple who nonetheless knew fear and doubt and had denied Jesus three times. Now, he is bold and fearless as he proclaims a message of hope which sees 3000 added to the church in one day.
The people there heard Peter proclaim peace and freedom to all who would follow Jesus Christ. For centuries the Jewish people had known that they were special. They were the ones chosen by God Almighty to be His own special people.For centuries God had protected them, directed them and provided for them. They had a relationship with the Creator of the whole universe that was totally unique.
However, that relationship came at a price. The price was total obedience to a series of over 600 laws and directives and when they inevitably failed to keep all those laws, there was an elaborate sacrificial system to deal with these infringements of the Law. The very fact that there were so many people in Jerusalem at this time was because it was Pentecost, one of those mandatory times of sacrifice and offering to God.
But now Peter is telling them that all this ritual and law keeping, all this costly and elaborate sacrificial system, was no longer necessary. Jesus Christ had become the ultimate and final sacrifice and had paid the price for all of their sins. Because of the working of the Holy Spirit that day, because of what they saw in these disciples of Jesus, the people believed the message that Peter preached.
As these 3000 people responded to the message, the Holy Spirit began a work in each of them. Suddenly all the barriers of race, colour and gender melted away and the new converts began to meet with each other every day. One of the distinguishing traits of the early Church was its love for one another.(Acts 2:44-46). This continues to be the distinguishing mark of the church, for we – who are all different in so many ways – are called to be the family of God. We are called together to belong, to love, to share and to welcome others. As we do this, our church too will grow and we will see the continuing, exciting growth of the church as the Holy Spirit adds to our number those who are being saved.