Acts 1:3, “during the forty days after he suffered and died, he appeared to the apostles from time to time, and he proved to them in many ways that he was actually alive. And he talked to them about the kingdom of God.”
Put yourself in the shoes of these eleven young men, ten of whom were under the age of twenty-one. The man they put their faith in, Jesus, had been killed on a cross. They had seen the resurrected Christ, but were still awaiting the promised Holy Spirit. In their humanness, they were just like us: scared, confused, and lost. But on the day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit descended upon them. Peter, being the eldest of the eleven, began as a scared young man who denied knowing Christ three times, and morphed into a powerful speaker, professing Jesus as Christ, the chosen One of God. Read his address to a crowd in Jerusalem where he confesses the meaning of Jesus’ purpose on Earth in Acts 2:22-28 http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Acts+2%3A22-28&version=NIV
Filled with the promise of the Holy Spirit, these young men went from bewildered little boys to fierce evangelical leaders. The established Jewish leaders were in their crosshairs, so to speak, and took direct aim at them for the killing of the Messiah, Jesus Christ of Nazareth. They proclaimed in Jerusalem, to God-fearing Jews from all nations, their Spirit-inspired message: that Jesus was who the Scriptures foretold He would be. Read Acts 2:1-13 for the background of the coming of the Holy Spirit. http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Acts+2%3A1-13&version=NIV We see in these verses that there were all kinds of people in Jerusalem from all over the world. The Spirit was blessed upon the eleven apostles, who were able to speak in any language. The spirit spread like wildfire, and soon listeners heard the good news in their native tongue. They were then able to spread the good news to people of their land, and thus the Gospel of the Lord got its roots. In Jeremiah 31:31-34, the Lord proclaims, “I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people.” Only after Jesus’ resurrection could the Holy Spirit finally be unleashed, and all men would know their true God. Matthew 27:50-51, “And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit. At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split.” The tearing of the veil dramatically symbolizes Jesus’ sacrifice for us, and in a sense shows that the Holy of Holies is now open for all people, both Jew and Gentile. Prior to this, the Holy of Holies was reserved yearly for only the high priest. It was said that even horses tied to each end of the veil couldn’t tear it apart – it was nearly 60 feet high! No more than a select few had access to God, but with the blessing of the Holy Spirit, every man, every woman, and every child can now have a direct relationship with his/her Creator. This is the good news, the Gospel, that should be spread to all the ends of the Earth.
Today, many people regard the church as a political institution, and as a way to manipulate people’s thinking. But when we evaluate the church 2,000 years ago, we see young men who left everything – their families, their businesses – to become followers of Jesus. These men who had agenda whatsoever other than to spread the good news of the resurrection. They did not have any financial gain. In fact, all of them, with the exception of John, died a martyr’s death proclaiming their faith in the Gospel. The intentions of today’s church are still good, but it is easy to misconstrue their agenda: perhaps you believe that all the church wants is your money. And you might be right. However, God doesn’t want your money. God wants your heart. God’s Holy Spirit was the only thing the founders of our early church had. Give your heart to God, and He will fill it with His spirit.