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Acts 1-2

On the day of Pentecost the Holy Spirit arrives and the disciples find themselves speaking languages they have never learned. Peter speaks to the crowd that have gathered around them, explaining why Jesus had to die and be raised from the dead. Three thousand people become followers of Jesus and the church is born.

Copyright Gavin Owen 2005

Thomas sat in the room and fidgeted. He didn't know what to do with himself. It was the day of Pentecost, a harvest festival that the people of Israel celebrated every year. But for Thomas and his friends this year was different. It was fifty days since Jesus had been crucified and then brought back to life by God and only ten days since he had returned to heaven. He'd led them all to the top of a hill just outside Jerusalem and they had watched in amazement as he rose up into the sky and disappeared in the clouds. Before he left, Jesus had given them a special mission and had told them to go back to Jerusalem and wait for God to send them power. Well here they were in Jerusalem, waiting, but so far nothing had happened. Thomas was worried, he was starting to have doubts; he was beginning to wonder if this power from God was ever going to come. He looked at the other men in the room – Peter and Andrew, James and John, Phillip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Simon, James, Thaddeus and Matthias, the new member of their group, the one they'd chosen to replace Judas. None of them seemed worried, but Thomas just couldn't sit still.

Suddenly something whistled past Thomas's ear. “What was that?” he said to himself, “Oh, it was only the wind, someone must have left the window open.” He got up and turned to go and shut the window, but it wasn't open. “That's strange,” he thought. Then something whistled past his other ear. Thomas span round and looked at the other people in the room. They'd felt it too, it was as if the wind was inside the house with them. Now the whistling of the wind was beginning to get louder and everyone in the room could feel it moving. Their hair was being blown around and as the wind got stronger and stronger they began to shake like leaves on a tree. Then a light appeared, floating in the corner of the room. Thomas looked at it curiously and saw that it was a ball of fire. Without warning, it shot across the room straight towards him. He ducked and it flew over his head. He turned round just in time to see the ball of fire hit Peter right in the face. But Peter didn't yell or run, he just smiled. Then there were more balls of fire, flying in every direction, towards every person in the room. Thomas dodged out of the way of one ball of fire but as he turned he saw another one streaking towards him. It was too late to get out of the way. As the fire hit him Thomas had the most amazing feeling of his life. It didn't burn him, but he did feel warm all over and every part of him was tingling. This was it; this was the power from God that Jesus had told them about, the one he had called the Holy Spirit. Thomas opened his mouth to tell the others but when he tried to talk, he couldn't understand the words that came out of his own mouth, he was speaking a different language and he had no idea what he was saying. He realised at once that the same thing was happening to everyone else in the room, but it sounded to Thomas like each one of them was speaking a different language from the others.

Together they ran downstairs and burst out onto the street. The city was packed with people who had come from far and wide to celebrate the harvest festival, many of them from different countries. The disciples opened their mouths and began to shout out in their new languages. The people in the street stopped and stared and soon a huge crowd had gathered.

“What's happening?” they asked each other.

“Wait a minute,” called out a man in the crowd, “That one on the end is speaking the language of my people! He's talking about the amazing things that God has done!”

“Yes!” shouted someone else, “and that man over there is speaking my language!”

Then the people in the crowd realised that the disciples were all saying the same things about God, but in different languages so that every single person in the crowd could understand at least one of them.

“This must be a miracle!” cried out some people.

“They must be drunk!” muttered some others.

Then Peter stepped forward and raised his arms. The other disciples stopped speaking and the crowd was silent.

“Brothers!” Peter began, “Listen to me, listen carefully! These men aren't drunk as some of you are saying. Why it's only nine o'clock in the morning. No! What you are seeing and hearing this morning is happening by the power of the Holy Spirit. God wants you to know about his Son Jesus.”

Then Peter explained to them everything that had been written in the Scriptures about Jesus long before he had ever been born. Finally he told them, “God sent Jesus to save us, but you sent him to die on a cross.”

When he had finished some of the people in the crowd said, “We believe you, we believe what you've told us about Jesus, that He is the Son of God, the way to heaven. What should we do?”

“Tell God that you're sorry,” Peter told them, “ask him to forgive you. Then be baptised to show that you believe in Jesus and you too will receive the Holy Spirit.”

For a few moments nobody said anything. Then one man stepped forward and said, “I believe, I believe in Jesus.” Then another person stepped forward, and another, and another, and another. Thomas began to count as people poured forwards. By the end of that day more than 3,000 people had been baptised and become part of the first ever church.

Thomas remembered the mission that Jesus had given them just before he left. “Tell everyone about me,” he had said, “Start here in Jerusalem, then go into the countryside of Judea, then into Samaria and then to the ends of the Earth.” Today, the day of Pentecost, with the help of the Holy Spirit, the disciples had begun their mission.