“And afterward, I will pour out my Spirit on all people.”
The day must come when an isolated, embattled, surrounded group of warriors must execute a breakout. It will not survive if it does not.
A breakout requires careful planning, solid leadership, good timing, and sufficient firepower to be successful.
The band of believers that made up the early Christian church had all of these.
The breakout occurred shortly after Jesus transferred to heaven. His followers felt isolated.
They were embattled. Jewish and Roman authorities had killed their leader. The leaders of the Christians fled to hide behind locked doors. They saw enemies in every direction.
Yet, the breakout of the believers had been planned far in advance. Centuries before Jesus appeared on the scene, the prophet Joel foretold how it would happen.
Jesus had trained leaders for some three years. Twelve of them were ready to step forward. Simon Peter took point.
And firepower? There was no equal.
The timing was perfect. The chosen day was a holiday familiar to God’s people. Moses called it Pentecost. From now on, that name would take on a super-charged new meaning.
“Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them” (Acts 2:2-4).
The breakout came with a violent wind. Fire seemed to spread into a flame over each disciple’s head. The barrier of foreign languages was breached. Everyone from everywhere could understand them.
The firepower of God the Holy Spirit blew through the barriers to saving faith.
There had never been a firefight like this. The old guard of traditional Judaism, which had discarded the living energy of the living God in favor of dead formalism, could not stand up to the attack.
The feeble framework of the old Roman paganism built over the grave of Greek mythology melted before the firestorm of the Lord of armies—the Rescuer of the human race.
The point of the spear was aimed at the heart of the enemy’s stronghold position: rejection of Jesus of Nazareth as a fraud and a failure.
The opening salvo carried the charge: “Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ” (Acts 2:36).
The missile hit its mark: “When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” (v.37)
The follow-up came quickly: “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins…” (v.38)
Peace was offered, “The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call” (v.39).
Victory was won: “about three thousand were added to their number that day” (v.41).
On that Pentecost Day, peace with God broke out. It marches on even to this day.
Prayer: Holy Spirit, you came with power and blessing upon the early Christian church. You overpowered the enemies of faith and hope. You allow us to be part of the victory march. We thank you. Amen.
Written by Rev. Paul Ziemer, WELS National Civilian Chaplain and Liaison to the Military, Belle Plaine, Minnesota.
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