After Jesus had been resurrected, he appeared to his apostles for forty days. At the end of this time, they asked him if he was about to become the king of Israel. He did not deny that a time was coming when he would exercise political power; however, he directed their attention to the spiritual power they were to receive ten days later.
During the Jewish feast of Pentecost, which follows fifty days after Passover, the apostles received the Holy Spirit. Jews from fifteen different countries, who were in Jerusalem for the feast, heard the Galileans praise God in the language of their own country. After this, Peter – who had denied Jesus three times – got up and accused the Jews of murdering Jesus. He proclaimed the good news that God had raised Jesus from the dead and that, if they repented and got baptised, they too would receive the Holy Spirit. Three thousand people responded to his appeal that day.
The enthusiasm of the apostles could not be dampened. Peter and John healed a man who had been lame from birth. This gave rise to a crowd gathering to whom they proclaimed the good news that Jesus did not stay in the grave. Those responsible for Jesus’ death, the ruling Council and the High Priest, were greatly disturbed. They cast Peter and John into jail and tried to shut them up by threatening them. It was then that Peter uttered these famous words:
“As for us, we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.”
By this time, the number of men alone had risen to about five thousand. Twice after this, Peter was thrown into jail; once by the religious leaders and once by Herod. Both times, he was miraculously freed by an angel of the Lord. The Kingdom of God was becoming a threat to the religious and secular powers in Jerusalem.
Written by Piet van Staden