Those hearing the Apostle Peter’s Pentecost sermon were convicted in their hearts that Jesus is indeed the Lord and Messiah. So they committed themselves to living the life of Jesus as his disciples through repentance and baptism. In turn they received the promised Holy Spirit which had been poured out like a torrential downpour of rain. The result, according to Acts 2, was about 3,000 new disciples joining this Jesus movement.
Luke tells us what happened in response to these people making the radical decision to live as a Spirit-empowered follower of Jesus, making the beliefs and values of Jesus their own. Acts 2:42-47 reads:
They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.
Now that we see what has happened once the Holy Spirit began overflowing among the community of disciples, the question is what do we do we do with this text?
In years past, the temptation for me was to exegete this text out. I still think there is value in such exegesis but I also think that if we are not careful, we can miss what Luke is trying to do. Luke is not trying to give us a “how to” manual for being church. It ought to be obvious that Luke is offering a summary of what was happening as this Jesus movement gets underway. The summary paints a picture that tells a story. So a good question to begin asking is what story is this Jesus movement telling with the way they live out the life of Jesus?
I find it very helpful to remember that the story being told is the result of people believing that Jesus is the Lord and Messiah, committing their lives to him in repentance and baptism. (Is it possible that so much energy has been poured into trying to win sectarian arguments over the phrase “for the forgiveness of sins” that we have missed the fact that what separates this baptism apart from John the Baptist’s baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins is that this baptism is received “in the name of Jesus Christ” with the promise of receiving “the gift of the Holy Spirit”?) As a result of their repentance and baptism, God made them a community of disciples bearing witness to the reign of Jesus, who is Lord and Messiah. So the question for us who believe that Jesus is the Lord and Messiah and have committed ourselves to Jesus through repentance and baptism is what sort of story should we expect God to tell through our church?