The Beginning of the Last Days: Acts 2 (7)
Pray Psalm 143.1-4.
Hear my prayer, O LORD,
Give ear to my supplications!
In Your faithfulness answer me,
And in Your righteousness.
Do not enter into judgment with Your servant,
For in Your sight no one living is righteous.
For the enemy has persecuted my soul;
He has crushed my life to the ground;
He has made me dwell in darkness,
Like those who have long been dead.
Therefore my spirit is overwhelmed within me;
My heart within me is distressed.
Sing Psalm 143.1-4
(Divinum Mysterium: Of the Father’s Love Begotten)
Hear my earnest prayer, O Lord! Give ear to my pleas for grace!
In Your faithfulness and righteousness, look upon me with Your face!
Enter not to judgment with Your servant, Lord, with Your loving servant, Lord:
None can stand before Your Word.
See, the enemy pursued my soul; he has crushed and cast me down.
He has made me sit in darkness, Lord, like those dead and in the ground.
Thus my spirit faints within me, Lord, faints within my weary soul,
and my heart is no more whole.
Read Acts 2; meditate on verses 14-16.
1. How does Peter here compare with Peter on the night of Jesus’ trial?
2. What did Peter announce in these words?
The Peter who stepped forward here to inaugurate the last days was not the same man who cringed before a servant girl on the night Jesus was tried. Something happened to Him. What?
He saw Jesus, alive from the dead, and knew the thrill and relief of forgiving grace. He understood and embraced Jesus’ teaching about the Kingdom of God. He waited on God to fulfill His promise and send His Spirit into the world. He yielded to the Spirit, submitted to the Word of God, and stepped forth in obedience to proclaim the Good News of salvation and the beginning of the last days. The now-indwelling Spirit provided the courage and words Peter would need.
Thus Peter shows us the first things we must do to be fruitful followers of Jesus in these last days.
And look at the results: As Peter and other obedient disciples – men and women, probably young and old – spilled out into the streets talking about Jesus, the Spirit opened lost hearts, wrenched more than 3,000 people out of the grip of Satan, conveyed them into the Kingdom of Jesus Christ, and established the New Community with its new orientation, new economy, and new power to turn the world rightside-up for Jesus.
Peter cringing, Peter courageous.
Which Peter are you? Get your first things right, and you won’t have to worry about your answer in these last days.
Treasures Old and New: Matthew 13.52; Psalm 119.162
Sometime in between Jesus’ resurrection and the gathering of disciples in Jerusalem, Peter and some of the other disciples decided to go fishing. It is a time when the shock of Jesus’ horrible death, the guilt of their denial and desertion of Him, and the equally shocking but glorious resurrection had taken place. They were no doubt numb with exhaustion and defeat. So, they went to their comfort zone. Fishing.
They went through the motions of fishing, but they caught nothing. All night. No success. Then a Man appeared on the shore, told them to cast the net on the other side of the boat, and they caught 153 fish. No broken net, just a lot of fish. A miracle. At this John said, “It is the Lord!” And the Lord it was, there to prepare breakfast for them, and there to give them an opportunity to repent and recover.
After they had eaten breakfast, Jesus said to cringing Peter, “Do you love me more than these?”
Peter answered, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.”
Then again, “Do you love Me?”
Peter again, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.”
Then a third time, “Do you love Me?”
And the third response, “Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.”
And each time Jesus gave Peter something to do to prove his love:
“Feed My sheep.” “Tend My sheep.” “Feed My sheep.”
Then Jesus ended the conversation with a final means of proof: “Follow Me.” (Jn. 21.1-19)
We, too, have been given the opportunity to come face to face with our own sin.
And we, like Peter, can declare our sorrow for our sin, repent and turn away from it; and then declare our desire to go forward in love with Jesus. Seeing Him, and not our sin. Declaring our love for Him and doing what He commands us to do to prove it. We are to feed and tend to God’s sheep. And we are to follow Jesus.
But we cannot do this without being filled with the Holy Spirit.
It is what happened to Peter. It is what changed him from cowardly to courageous.
The tender love that Jesus showed to Peter began the change.
The Spirit finished it off.
God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit will do the same for you!
“Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the LORD your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you” (Deut. 31.6; Heb. 13.5).
1. How can we draw on the power of God’s Spirit to empower us for bearing witness to Jesus?
2. In Acts 2 we see the beginning of the ongoing work of Jesus. How is that work proceeding in your life?
3. Write a prayer that you can use to remind you of your daily calling to be a witness to Jesus.
The Holy Spirit arrives, fills the entire house, but this was not frightening. For he immediately entered into their hearts, not as gilded flames but living, fiery flames! The Holy Spirit revealed himself in the wind in order to make them strong, steadfast and courageous, who were earlier hiding themselves. And so in this way he rested on each and every person… Martin Luther (1483-1546) Sermon on Pentecost Monday in the Afternoon (1545).1
Pray Psalm 143.5-12.
In prayer, remember all that Jesus has done for you. Call on Him to shine His face on you, to hear your prayer, and to show you how to follow Him courageously as His witness. Shelter in Him and let Him teach you the ways of His Kingdom.
Sing Psalm 143.5-12.
(Divinum Mysterium: Of the Father’s Love Begotten)
I recall the days of old; on Your works I meditate –
all the wonders of Your mighty hand, works both small, O Lord, and great.
Lord, my thirsty soul cries out to You! To You, Lord, I reach my hand
in a dry and weary land.
Answer quickly, O my Lord! Do not hide from me Your face!
For my spirit fails and I am like those who do not know Your grace.
In the morning let me hear Your steadfast love; Lord I trust You, show my way!
I lift up my soul and pray!
Rescue me from all my enemies! Lord, I refuge seek in You.
Let me know Your will, O Lord my God; make me know what I must do.
Let Your Spirit lead me on to level ground; save my life! Preserve my soul!
Rescue, Lord, and make me whole!
T. M. and Susie Moore
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Except as indicated, all Scriptures are taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. For sources of all quotations, see the weekly PDF of this study. All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter (Williston: Waxed Tablet Publications, 2006), available by clicking here.