GNB 2.58

March 10, 2023


For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ Jesus. It is the power of God to bring salvation to everyone who believes; first to the Jew and then to the Greek [read ‘to the rest of the world].” (Romans 1.16)

They [the believers in the resurrected Jesus of Nazareth who is the Son of God and Messiah] devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. All the believers were together and had everything in common.” (Acts 2.42,44)


In order to understand the strength and the weakness of the modern Church and its various constituencies as communities of faith in Jesus as the Christ, we ought to grasp first the grassroots fruit of the Spirit. By that I mean, we need to capture the culture and climate of the first community of faith in Jesus Christ. It was formed in Jerusalem; more likely somewhere between Jerusalem and Bethany. I have in mind the picture of a “tent city set on a hill.” Does this not sound appropriate considering the very teaching of Jesus “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a basket. Instead, they set it on a stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5.14-16) From the prophet Ezekiel we are introduced to God’s judgment season and reconciliation of Jerusalem and its people, His people. When His judgment is pronounced, the Spirit of God, as Ezekiel watches it in a prophetic vision, moves out of the Holy of Holies through the Temple courts passing through the East Gate and to the hill opposite descending and ascending via the Kidron Valley. When the repentance of the people is complete, God’s grace and transformation of them necessitates that the same Spirit then retrace its steps and again abide in the Holy of Holies. If the “242” community of faith described in the passage of scripture above does not align with the prophetic description, then I am doing far more than reading into it, I would be a fanciful liar.

We do not know the “population” of this city set on a hill to be a light to the world. But, there are some safe assumptions gleaning from scripture concerning the Pentecost event which occurred fifty days after the resurrection of Jesus. During that fifty days, Jesus met with the disciples for their refresher training. He sojourned with them for forty days. As He did with the two on the Road to Emmaus, He opened the scriptures to them in the “breaking of bread” fellowship mostly in the Upper Room. It became a home base for the disciples and those who had followed Jesus during His three year ministry in Galilee, Samaria and Judea. The reflections on His words would be more succinctly heard and applied because all that they pointed to happened within the disciples’ immediate season of life. By that I allude to His telling them of His “arrest, trial, conviction, crucifixion and resurrection.” It was now as plain as the scars He bore on His hands, wrists, feet and body as was the nose of their face. All that He said about that event was true. They were the witnesses of it. And as their most recent shared history was true, then His teachings were authoritative and validated by the miracles He performed. At the end of forty days, He took them back out to Mt. Tabor, the Mount of Transfiguration. With a final commissioing, like a baccalaurete ceremony, He sent them out to do the work of the Kingdom to which they had been called as He ascended into Heaven to sit at the right hand of God His Father. They then had ten days to reflect on all that had happened in that season. While Matthew reports that “some doubted,” I do not think it was that they doubted Jesus and their belief in Him. I think they doubted their own ability to accomplish “without Him” all that He had commanded them to do. They returned to the Upper Room to have those fierce conversations. I have no doubt they lost any sense of time during that season of wonder and acceptance of the truth of the matter presented to them. Before they knew it, it was Pentecost and their “new” history began. What they most certainly could not do on their own was now made possible by God with the bestowing of the anointing of the Holy Spirit. There was no chief high priest or rabbi to perform this rite of passage from disciple to apostle. It happened by the very hand of God to accomplish what Jesus had asked for and promised. He told the disciples in that very Upper Room He would send them a “Comforter and Guide,” the Holy Spirit, to be with them and go with them. That Spirit would speak when they were at a loss for words as Aaron was for Moses when he faced Pharaoh with God’s command to “Let My people go!” He would speak as Nathan did to David who brought a saving conviction to the forefront with his declaration “You are the man!” (And it was no compliment that he issued but an accountability.) With the indwelling and ondwelling of the Spirit, the disciples/apostles were led by Peter down the stairway to the street to preach their way to the Temple. They set themselves counter to the now empty practice of sacrifice of a lamb for the “good of the people hoping for a bountiful harvest in their fields” known as “First Fruits.” They preached the gospel of Jesus Christ as it had been given to them. Those who were there for the consecration of their home field advantage heard it over the words of the Chief High Priest in their own languages. What languages were there? They were the languages of the Hebrews who had been scattered as seed across the face of the earth. They represented, in large part, the nations to which Jesus had commissioned the disciples to preach to. And many thousands confessed their old faith was insufficient and that Jesus was “the way, the truth and the life” which would make all the difference in the days to come as a spiritual harvest. And so it began, as Jesus said, “In Judea.” Many stayed in Jerusalem to hear more from the disciples of Jesus who were now apostles of the Christ. They devoted themselves to their preaching, teaching, discipleship, worship of God and the breaking of bread as the sign of their singular fellowship in community. They sold all they had and contributed it to the community so that anyone and everyone who believed could stay and become followers of the Way. Not only were they camped in opposition, physically and geographically, to the Temple, but they were viewed in opposition to the practiced culture and climate of the “Old Jerusalem.” They were not contrary because they were commanded to “love God, love self, love neighbor, love enemy and most of all love one another.” They were seen as contrary because they did not put the “old guard” in places of honor and authority within the new community. Before they could go out into all the world, the world had to come to see “the place where Jesus had been, was and now is no more but promised to return soon when the work of the Age was completed.”

Mighty ones of God, that was a revival akin to what the prophet Joel had declared, “And afterward, I will pour out My Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions. Even on My manservants and maidservants, I will pour out My Spirit in those days.” (Joel 2.28) Without question, they became a people filled with the “light for the world.” They were the “salt of the earth” who restored the flavor to living righteously. In their joy which was being made complete by God they found the truth that would truly set people free. That is what had been desired all along and was the impetus of the Messianic Community hope. Isn’t that ours as well? If that is the case, then ought we not return to the very foundations upon which Jesus set for us and set us upon with a shared faith, hope and love through a shared conversion and conviction to not only preach the gospel but live it out “as Jesus said”? Are we not in agreement to this?


Father, we thank You for the reminder given to us in Your written word of scripture and in the revealed word of Jesus our Christ. If not for that “Word,” then we would still be slaves to sin and struggling to survive without faith, hope or love. But, we are not slaves to sin but man-servants and maid-servants of the King of kings and Lord of lords sent to be and to do His command: to seek and save the lost as we are those who love one another. AMEN.

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