They were needy. Just because they had walked with the Son of God for three and a half years, it didn't make them super heroes. They weren't eight feet tall and bullet proof. It had been ten days since they had stood on the Mount of Olives, when they had watched Yahshua ascend into heaven. And what was His last command to them? Wait.
Wait? Wait for what? He had told them to not leave Jerusalem, but to wait for the power of the Holy Spirit to come upon them. What did that mean? What was it going to be like? What would they do with the Holy Spirit's power? Of course they knew -- it was what he had always put into them over their years as His disciples. They would seek and save the lost,1 they would feed his sheep,2 but there was no way they could be the kind of people He needed them to be without His Spirit. They had learned in a deep way that they could do nothing apart from Him.3 Now they waited eagerly in an upper room in Jerusalem. They could hear the hustle and bustle of people and animals outside in the streets.
The last day they'd spent with Yahshua was crystal clear in all of their minds. There on the mountaintop, a gentle breeze had rustled through the springtime leaves of the olive trees, tinted orange by low-hanging sun. What a special day! He had clearly explained their purpose to them, telling them that once they had His Spirit, they would have the power to be His witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, and even to the end of the earth.4 Yahshua seemed even more excited than they were -- and He was. Finally, they would be equipped to do greater works than He could by himself.5 With His Spirit in them, they would be able to reach even more people than He could.
There were only about a hundred and twenty of them, but they were disciples with faith. It's been said that one person with faith is worth fifteen without. So who was there? Yahshua's mother, for sure. Martha and Mary, Cleopas, whom Yahshua had spoken with on the way to Emmaus. The eleven apostles, of course: Peter (at this point he'd been really tested), Thomas (who'd doubted, but Yahshua had met him right where he was at), the sons of Zebedee (whose passion and zeal had been tempered by their Master). They were all there. Real people, really waiting in that room for something to happen.
It had been seven weeks since Pesach6 when Yahshua had been arrested, beaten, and crucified. At first they hadn't been sure what to do. Was it all over? Their Savior had appeared to be defeated, but three days after His death, He had shown Himself to them. It had worked! He had paid the price for their sins. He had shattered the power that death had always held over men's souls. There was hope for a future. A new government would be coming into power, with Yahshua as king.
He had wanted his followers to understand what was happening. Many times over those seven weeks he had appeared and explained the Scriptures to them, revealing their purpose and giving them specific instructions. It was so encouraging to them. His last words had been to wait in that room until the power of the Holy Spirit would come upon them.
So there they were -- needy. The sounds of a multitude resounded through the walls of that upper room. The millions of people who had flocked to Jerusalem for Shavuot, the Feast of Weeks,7 at times seemed to be right outside their house. The small band of disciples looked around the room at one another. It's hard to imagine what they must have felt in that moment. One thing is for sure: they were so thankful for each other. They were the only ones on the face of the earth who had responded Yahshua's words. They totally understood each other. Yahshua's words had found a place in their hearts.8 They were fascinated by His words. They had seen the value of the Pearl. They had all left their "nets" to become fishers of men and follow the Son of God. They were so thankful to be allied in the same struggle.
The past ten days had been a deep time of waiting, hoping, praying... Each day they heard the booming voices of the Jews outside counting the days until Shavuot.
The next day, "Forty-two!"
Each day that passed held its own significance. The disciples recalled that usually before an important occasion, the Israelites of old would consecrate themselves. They weren't so sure about the traditional ritual, but they did know that Yahshua had taught them to make sure they were confessing their sins and forgiving each other. He had taught them to love one another. They knew that their unity was important to Him,9 so they made every effort to be together.
The voices outside grew louder and more intense with each day that passed, as more and more Jews arrived in Jerusalem for Shavuot.
"What is going to happen?" the disciples wondered.
"Do you think the Holy Spirit is going to come tomorrow?"
"Do you think the Jews will kill us as they did our Master?"
Many questions arose in the minds of the disciples. They strengthened one another not to give in to fear. "Remember what our Master said, 'Fear not, little flock, for it is our Father's good pleasure to give you the Kingdom.'"10
"Let's not receive the spirit of fear, but wait for His Spirit to come upon us."
The roaring and rumbling of the crowds grew louder and louder. The disciples were all with one accord and in on place, and all of a sudden a sound came out of heaven like a strong, rushing wind. It filled the whole house where they were sitting. Without hesitation, the one hundred and twenty disciples poured out of the house as one man. They were really excited and even found themselves speaking in languages they didn't know, and everyone they spoke to could understand.11
The crowds were divided. Some wondered if there was a deep meaning in all of this, while the others mocked them, "They must be drunk on new wine!"
But Peter stood up with the eleven disciples, knowing he had to say something. He uttered a quiet prayer, stepped forward, and raised his voice to the crowds. He assured them that weren't drunk, and then he spoke from the book of Joel, saying,
"And it shall come to pass in the last days," says Yahweh, "that I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your young men shall see visions, your old men shall dream dreams. And on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days... And it shall come to pass that whoever calls on the name of the Sovereign shall be saved."12
"Joel? Why is he speaking from Joel?" wondered some of the devout Jews. "What is he saying?" Most of them had grown up hearing the Law and the Prophets read every Sabbath in the synagogue, so the words were familiar. But why the prophet Joel? Some of them knew why. Joel had prophesied doom and desolation upon Israel. He had spoken of swarms of locusts that would devastate their land, their crops, their grain. Then they would have nothing to offer to Yahweh, since the grain offering would be cut off.
But Joel didn't only preach devastation, but he pointed towards a great restoration. Continuing, Peter explained Yahshua's crucifixion and how He had risen from the dead. "This Yahshua, God has raised up, of which we are all witnesses...
"Look! This is what God is doing! Look to yourselves. You crucified your Messiah. But here you are, bringing your offering on Shavuot, as you've always done. It's just a ritual. It's dead religion. God is not in it. Yahshua was the true sacrifice for our sins. Now is the time of restoration."
Many missed what Peter said that day, but at least three thousand sincere men heard Peter's message and responded. They were cut to the heart, saying, "What must we do to be saved?"
With many more words, Peter spoke the Gospel to them, just as it had been delivered to him by Yahshua. What were these many other words? Whatever they were, we know the result of hearing them: all those who believed those words devoted themselves to the apostles' teachings and fellowship, to the breaking of bread, and to the prayers, and they all lived together and shared everything in common.