Two Pentecosts, Part Two

The Second Loaf of Bread

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. 1 Peter 2:9-10

For forty days following his resurrection, Jesus Christ appeared to his followers. Just before He ascended to heaven, He told them to wait in Jerusalem for the promised Holy Spirit to come and fill them with power. They would become witnesses “in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8).

Ten days later, on Pentecost, one hundred and twenty followers gathered in an upper room in Jerusalem. “Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them” (Acts 2:2-4).

Speaking under the influence of the Holy Spirit to a crowd from “every nation under heaven,” Peter preached boldly about Jesus (Acts 2:5). The people were amazed to hear Peter’s message in their own languages (2:6). Three thousand converts joined Jesus’ followers that day.

Christians today regard Pentecost as the birthday of the Church. On that day people from many nations became a spiritual nation. The visitors in Jerusalem took the gospel home with them. Later the apostle Paul spread the gospel. Eventually the whole earth would hear—including us!

On Pentecost, two loaves of bread baked with yeast were presented in the temple. In Scripture, yeast often symbolizes sin (Matthew 16:1-12; 1 Corinthians 5:6-8). Could the two loaves of bread represent two groups of people: Jews and Gentiles? Both groups were present in Acts 2:9-11.

Neither group could fulfill the Law; both were comprised of sinners. But praise God, Jesus Christ lived a sinless life and thus fulfilled the Law for Jews and Gentiles. He mediated a new covenant in his blood, “that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance–now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant” (Hebrews 9:15).

Do you try to please God by being good, serving others, or keeping the Law? Have you experienced the power of the Holy Spirit dwelling within you as you serve God?

DIG DEEPER:

Read Acts 2:1-11. Which 16 nations were present on Pentecost? If possible, locate them on a map of that time. What connection do you see between Jesus’ command in Matthew 28:18-20 and what occurs in Acts 2:5-6?

According to Romans 10:1-18, is there a difference between how Jews and Gentiles get saved? How do we, 21st century Gentiles, become righteous?

Romans 7:7-8:4. Why did Paul say that the Law brought him death? How was he delivered from his predicament? Have you ever struggled as Paul described and triumphed as he did?

 Nancy J. Baker

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