Scenes From the History of the Early Christians.

A. D. 30.—The Promise fulfilled.
AT the beginning of the ministry of Christ, it was revealed to John the Baptist that the One upon whom he should see the Spirit descending and abiding was "He which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost." The risen Lord, when He bade His disciples not to depart from Jerusalem, but there wait for "the promise of the Father," added, "John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence.”
During the feast of Pentecost, probably ten days after He had been "taken up," and a cloud had "received Him out of their sight," this word of their Lord was fulfilled. This feast, sometimes called "The Day of First-fruits," was at the time of harvest, and lasted fifty days; beginning with the first sheaf of barley which, at the Passover, was brought to the Temple to be offered to Jehovah, and ending with the two first loaves made from the newly-ripened wheat, which, with a peace-offering of two yearling lambs, were waved before Him. It was a joyful festival, and many strangers, besides those "devout Jews from every nation under heaven" who were dwellers in the city, would be at Jerusalem during the time of its celebration.
At Jerusalem we find the Disciples of Christ assembled, "with one accord, in one place," waiting as Christ had bidden them, for the "promise of the Father." Christ had spoken to them of the coming One on various occasions. He had said of Him, "The Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in My name, He shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you." As His chosen ones thought of the many words spoken by their Master, heard perhaps at the time with careless ears, and now well-nigh forgotten, how precious must this word of Christ have been to them; how they must have longed for the fulfillment of it!
Again, Jesus had not only said that the Comforter should come in His name, but that He should be sent by the Father in answer to His prayer, and that He, the Spirit of truth, should abide with them forever.
Christ had also said that the Holy Spirit should testify of Him, and then, turning to His disciples, whom He was about to leave, He said, "Ye also shall bear witness, because ye have been with Me from the beginning," but this could only be after the Holy Ghost had come upon them, and they were "clothed with power from on high.”
As they were waiting, "suddenly," with manifest tokens of His mighty presence, the Power from on high came. All the house where they were sitting was filled with "a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and there appeared unto them cloven tongues, like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance." The tongues of flame, parted asunder, showed that God would now have the testimony of His grace go forth to all, to Gentile and Jew alike, even as Christ was given for a light to the Gentiles, that He might be God's salvation unto the ends of the earth. The immediate result of this outpouring of the Spirit could not be hid. The multitude, drawn together by the marvelous report that poor Galilæans, unlearned and ignorant men, were suddenly able to speak, not in their own dialect, with its rough intonation, but in the Greek and Persian tongues, were confounded.
For on that wonderful day, in the streets of Jerusalem, the sentence pronounced at Babel was reversed, and all those Jews of the dispersion who had come up to the holy city for the feast, heard, every man in his own tongue in which he was born, the wonderful works of God. But there were some there, who only mocked at what they could not understand. Their mockery brought from Peter the first clear note of testimony concerning the "power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ." By the Holy Spirit he brought home to the hearts of those "men of Israel" that the same Jesus of Nazareth, a Man approved of God among them, whom they had taken and by wicked hands crucified and slain, was He whom God had raised from the dead! He who, fifty days before, had been led "as a lamb to the slaughter," through the streets of their city, and had submitted Himself to death at their hands—"even the death of the cross"— was now exalted by the right hand of God. He it was who, having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, had shed forth that which they saw and heard.
“Beginning at Jerusalem," Christ had said. Thus, in the guilty city, among those who had been His betrayers and murderers, the gospel was first plainly set forth, and those who had shared in the guilt of His rejection and crucifixion learned that "God had made that same Jesus whom they had crucified both Lord and Christ." Many on that day were cut to the heart, convicted that they were verily guilty of that blood concerning which they had prayed in their ignorance that it might be upon them and upon their children, and they said to Peter and his fellow apostles, "Brethren, what shall we do?”
He bade them repent, and be baptized each one in the name of Christ, for the remission of sins; thus openly acknowledging Jesus of Nazareth as their Lord and Saviour.
But, though this testimony to Christ as the risen and glorified Saviour thus began at Jerusalem, it was not the purpose of God that it should end there. Peter added the beautiful words—the full import of which he should afterward understand—"For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call." What words of comfort and assurance are these for any of us who have learned by the convicting power of God's Spirit that we are "afar off" indeed—as far as sin and alienation from God could carry us, yet not too far for His call to sound in the secret chambers of our hearts! For it is ever true, in the mystery of His ways with us, that to be consciously lost is to be found forever.
Those who received Peter's word were baptized, and on that day, to the one hundred and twenty disciples who were at Jerusalem, three thousand were added.