As I talked about in my last blog post I’ve been just reading the text of Scripture and its been wonderful. It can be hard to not wonder at a particular passage and the desire to dig into the text can be difficult to resist. I love that! It means that my evil…I mean epic, plan is working.

As I was reading through Acts I encountered the account of the day of Pentecost which is a wonderful history of the giving of the spirit and the formation of a formal church. But there was something that struck me today as a little bit strange. Something that I hadn’t considered before and it really had to do with some thoughts about how I would preach this passage.

On this day in history we have recorded the coming of the Holy Spirit upon the apostles and then Peter’s speech to the gathered crowd. All of that is pretty straight forward – well as straight forward as the supernatural can be. What was interesting to me though was the response of the crowd. Specifically the text says:

“So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.” (Italics mine, Acts 2:41)

That’s a lot of people. Could you imagine if you had a crowd of several thousand show up at your door one Sunday. Then after your sermon 3,000 people responded! Sadly if three people respond it is a miracle (but that’s a subject for another post).

But even the large number wasn’t what caught my attention. What got me to thinking was the context of the passage. We are forty days after Passover when Christ was crucified. Now we know from Paul’s account in 1 Corinthians 15 that Jesus appeared to five-hundred people at one time, which is a good size crowd. But remember that he was rejected by many of those who followed him. Some left because of disappointment, others because of his seemingly harsh words, but by the time the crucifixion takes place there is only John and some of the women left. So what happened in those forty-days that would enable such a large crowd to hear the message and believe?

The fact is that we over play the crowds rejections at times. One thing that we need to remember is that the crowd that called out to him during the triumphal entry was probably not the same crowd that cried out for his death. In fact that mob was probably “hand picked” to force Pilate into a bad situation. We also have to remember that it was the Passover and so most people would be spending the time with their family. Plus the city would have been exceedingly crowded which may have had a limiting factor on Jesus’ exposure. Finally, though, those that believed on this day were foreigners. This is important because they would not have been mixed up in the politics that had surrounded Jesus’s ministry. These people may not have been exposed to all the slander that the religious leaders had slung Jesus’ way. They were a more “pure” audience if you will.

There are of course many other factors that could be considered as to why such a large crowd was attracted to the gospel call on the day of Pentecost, but whatever the earthly reason we can rest assured that God issued the call and the elect responded that day! Thank you Jesus!

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