PARTNERS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT: PART LXXXI
Filled with remorse, Peter could not witness what was done to His Lord or even hear His final Words to the council’s question as to who Jesus was. Gratitude goes to the nameless disciple, who was with Peter in Gethsemane and on the road to the high priest, and who was able to get Peter out of the cold, and see some of the things Jesus had to endure. Peter was of no help to Jesus or to himself. Peter’s denial of his affinity to Jesus was not before some authority, but before a maid and some servants. None of the disciples were defending Jesus at His crucial trial. In fact, they were offended by Jesus for not complying to their expectations (Matthew 11:6; Luke 24:21). Luke, too, depended on this unidentified disciple for his own findings. During this time, this disciple was at the cross with Jesus mother, and only Jesus knew who he was. There were also others who kept their identity and their association with Jesus a secret (John 12:42). On Pentecost one hundred and twenty persons showed up (Acts 1:15).
Now the men who were holding Jesus mocked him and beat him; they also blindfolded him and asked him, “Prophesy! Who is it that struck you?” And they spoke many other words against him, reviling him.
When day came, the assembly of the elders of the people gathered together, both chief priests and scribes; and they led him away to their council, and they said, “If you are the Christ, tell us.” But he said to them, “If I tell you you will not believe; and if I ask you, you will not answer. But from now on the Son of man shall be seated at the right hand of the power of God.” And they all said, “Are you the Son of God, then?” And he said to them, “You say that I am.” And they said, “What further testimony do we need? We have heard it ourselves from his own lips” (Luke 22:63-71).
WHEN DID PETER BECOME CONVERTED?
Peter did not convert overnight! And neither do we. People, who claim that they do, are hard to live with. Peter believed in Jesus as the Christ on the day he met Jesus. And Peter even followed Jesus and marveled at what He was doing and what He was teaching. However, Peter did not understand what Jesus was really about. Even though Peter had lived and traveled with Jesus outside Jerusalem and Judea for three years, he showed no dent in his life and belief. In my own life, I always believed in Christ, but I did nothing for Him until I was twenty-three. And that was the time when I decided to give my life to serve Christ. In my last sixty-six years, I constnatly had to adapt and change just to keep up with Jesus’ teaching. Jesus knew Peter’s disposition and He told him that He was praying for him to change, so he could become a leader to his brethren (Luke 22:32). And on Jesus’ last day on eath, Peter was not with Jesus, as he had promised. And just like the rest of the disciples, he was scattered; and therefore, he needed help from a friend. When Jesus was talking about leaving this world, Peter intended to join Him and he asked:
Simon Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, where are you going?” Jesus answered, “Where I am going you cannot follow me now; but you shall follow afterward.” Peter said to Him, “Lord, why cannot I follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.” Jesus answered, “Will you lay down your life for me? Truly, truly, I say to you, the cock will not crow, till you have denied me three times” (John 13:36-38).
His disciples said, “Ah, now you are speaking plainly, not in any figure! Now we know that you know all things, and need none to question you; but this we believe that you came from God.” Jesus answered them, “Do you now believe? The hour is coming, indeed it has come, when you will be scattered, every man to his home, and will leave me alone; yet I am not alone, for the Father is with me. I have said this to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (John 16:29-33).
WHEN DID PETER BEGAN TO ADAPT AND TO CHANGE?
It was on Pentecost when the Holy Spirit prompted Peter to stand up and identify the Christ to the multitude that had come to celebrate the “Feast of five weeks” as their Savior. Christ Jesus was the “One” David and the Prophet Joel had promised would come (Acts 2:14-36). Pentecost was celebrated in remembrance of a time when Israel brought in her first harvest, after being a slave in Egypt for more than four hundred years (Exodus 23:16; Numbers 28:26). Harvest time began at Pentecost and ended at the Feast of Booths. It lasted seven weeks and it filled the nation’s breadbasket. And the most important feasts in Israel had to do with bread. Therefore, it was a Commandment!
“Three times in the year you shall you shall keep a feast to me. You shall keep the feast of unleavened bread (Passover); as I commanded you, and you shall eat unleavened bread for seven days at the appointed time in the month of Ahib, for in it you came out of Egypt. None shall appear before me empty-handed. You shall keep the feast of harvest (Pentecost), of the first fruits of your labor, of what you sow in the field. You shall keep the feast of ingathering at the end of the year, when you gather in from the field the fruits of your labor (Booths)” (Exodus 23:14-16).
The law of nature demands that man sows in order to reap and harvest (Galatians 6:7). A people and their leaders, who cannot or who do not sow seal their own fate. Pentecost stands for a people and a person that must harvest what they have sowed and planted. On Pentecost, Peter began to harvest what Christ had sowed and planted while He was among men and women on earth. The Holy Spirit came as promised by Jesus that He would glorify the Son and the Father, and Jesus also held the harvest to be the fruit of their labor (John 16:12-15). Peter began as the leader of a small flock (Luke 12:32; John 21:15-19). Pentecost was a huge surprise for the numbers of disciples that showed up. And Pentecost was also the event that was going to change the world. It was the seed Jesus had sown and planted that grew unexpectedly into a multitude. There was good soil among the people who produced thirty, sixty, and a hundredfold (Mark 4:14-20). The preacher belied it! However, Jesus proved it, “Cast you bread on the waters, for you will find it after many days” (Ecclesiattes 11:1).
On Pentecost, Peter must have been overwhelmed when one hundred-twenty people were receiving the message of the Holy Spirit and when they proclaimed that Jesus was the Christ and Lord whom God had sent to be Messiah or Savior (Acts 1:15). Peter was astonished to see thousands, who wanted to see what was happening. Therefore when Peter opened his mouth and explained the phenomenon, three thousand signed up to be disciples of Jesus (Acts 2:41). And that only was the beginning for Peter.
And fear came upon every soul; and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common; and they sold their possessions and goods and distributed them to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they partook of food with glad and generous hearts. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved (Acts 2:43-47).
GLORY DAYS HAD COME, BUT WHERE WERE THEY GOING?
There was no thought where all the good things would take them? They were turning their backs on the world, which still had the means to finance and sustain these passengers bound for heaven. Their minds were set on being reunited with Jesus, who had gone to heaven, preparing a place for them, and then He would come back and remove them from the world (Matthew 24:29-31). And Jesus said to them:
“Let not your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, would I have told you that I to prepare a place for you? And when I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way where I am going.” Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going; how can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but by me. If you knew me, you would have known my Father also; henceforth you know him and have seen him” (John 14:1-7).
But of that day or that hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Take heed, watch and pray; for you do not know when the time will come. It is like a man going on a journey, when he leaves home and puts his servants in charge, each with his work, and commands the doorkeeper to be on the watch. Watch therefore — for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or in the morning — lest he come suddenly and find you asleep. And what I say to you, I say to all: Watch (Mark 13:32-37).
After the healing of the lame man, Peter and John became the admired pair of disciples (Acts 3:1-10). Jesus had said that they would do greater things than He did Himself; and miracles were happening when they were around. So they asked, and so it happened.
“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I go to the Father. Whatever you ask in my name, I will do it, that the Father may be glorified in the Son; if you ask anything in my name, I will do it” (John 14:12-14).
Now Peter and John were going up to the temple at the hour of prayer, the ninth hour. And a man lame from birth was being carried, whom they laid daily at that gate of the temple which is called Beautiful to ask alms of those who entered the temple, Seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple, he asked for alms. And Peter directed his gaze at him, with John, and said, “Look at us.” And he fixed his attention upon them, expecting to receive something from them. But Peter said, “I have no silver and gold, but I give you what I have; in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.” And he took him by the right hand and raised him up; and immediately his feet and ankles were made strong. And leaping up he stood and walked and entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God, and recognized him as the one who sat for alms at the Beautiful Gate of the temple; and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him (Acts 3:1-10).
THE HEALING GAVE PETER A SECOND CHANCE TO ACKNOWLEDGE CHRIST IN PUBLIC
Luke made Peter look bold and informed. Very orderly and historical sound, Peter linked Jesus with the fathers, Moses, and the Prophets. It was Jesus who healed the man and to make up for what the people have done to Jesus, they must repent to be released from their guilt. Peter must have been a surprise to himself, in his ability to glorify the Lord, whom he had denied three times. He needed a third chance to make up for his humiliation.
While the healed man clung to Peter and John, all the people ran together to them in the portico called Solomon’s, astounded. And when Peter saw it he addressed the people, “Men of Israel, why do you wonder at this, or why do you stare at us, as though by our own power or piety we had made him walk? The God of Abraham and of Isaac and of Jacob, the God of our fathers, glorified his servant Jesus, whom yu delivered up and denied in the presence of Pilate, when he had decided to release him. But you denied the Holy and Righteous One, and asked for a murderer to be granted to you, and killed the Author of life, whom God raised from the dead. To this we are witnesses. And his name, by faith in his name, had made this man strong whom you see and know;and the fatih which is though Jesus had given the man this perfect health in the presence of you all.
And now, brethren, I know that you acted in ignorance, as did also your rulers. But what God foretold by the mouth of all the prophets, that his Christ should suffer, he thus fulfilled. Repent therefore, and turn again, that our sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus, whom heaven must receive until the time for establishing all that God spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets from of old. Moses said, ‘The Lord God will raise up for you a prophet from your brethren as he raised me up. You shall listen to him in whatever he tells you. And it shall be that every soul that does not listen to that prophet shall be destroyed from the people.’ And all the prophets who have spoken, from Samuel and those who came afterwards, also proclaimed these days. You are the sons of the prophets and of the covenant which God gave to your fathers, saying to Abraham, ‘And in your posterity shall all the families of the earth be blessed.’ God, having raised up His Servant, sent Him to you first, to bless you in turning every one of you from your wickedness (Acts 3:11-26).
PETER’S SECOND SERMON INCREASED HIS KINGDOM FLOCK TO FIVE THOUSAND AND PUT HIS ENEMIES ON HIGH ALERT
And as Peter and John were speaking to the people, the priests and the captain of the temple and the Sadducees came upon them, annoyed because they were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection from the dead. And they arrested them and put them in custody until the morrow, for it was already evening. But many of those who heard the word believed; and the number of the men came to about five thousand (Acts 4:1-4).