This Is It

There is a chain of fast food restaurants in the Atlanta area called This Is It. They specialize in fried fish and chicken, assorted vegetables. The appeal to the passerby is, "If you're looking for the best food in town, look no further. You have found it. This Is It."

So it must have been on the event called Pentecost. The fact of this Jewish celebration was not new. Pentecost always came 50 days after the celebration of Passover, that time when God miraculously delivered the Israelites out of Egyptian bondage. Pentecost was the celebration that brought Jewish people from all over the then-known world. Luke, the author of the Book of Acts, names 17 national origins of people at that year's feast.

The strange thing that happened was that 120 people came down from an upstairs banquet hall acting unusually strange. They were singing, shouting, hugging, jumping, chattering excitedly, acting as though they had been affected by mass hysteria or lunacy. Observers judge them so. Some said they were drunk or struck by a moon beam. As they commented on this strange behavior, Peter, a follower of Jesus Christ, felt compelled to come to their defense and explain what was happening. His commentary may have gone like this:

I know you think our behavior strange. Perhaps it is. We've never acted like this before. We are followers of a prophet named Jesus. For three years we followed him. We saw him do great miracles and unusual wonders. We saw him give sight to blinded eyes, cause diseases to vanish, make lame people leap and run, cast out evil spirits from those possessed, feed multitudes of people from mere scraps of food. We even saw him restore life to dead folk.

About 50 or more days ago, he was crucified by Roman soldiers. Joseph of Arimathea loaned his tomb to put his body in. Three days later God raised him from the dead. For 40 days we witnessed his resurrected activities. He would appear in rooms where doors were locked. One night we saw him walking on the Sea of Galilee. He was once here, then there, affirming to all of us his aliveness. Then he told us to meet him on a certain hill. Five hundred of us gathered there. After he gave us instructions, we saw him raised up and ascend into the skies. He told us to return to the banquet hall, this Upper Room, to spend our time in prayer and to recall what we had seen and heard from him. Most especially, he told us to wait until we were empowered with special powers.

Well, today it happened. While we were praying and meditating, it seemed like flames of fire darted from the air and fell on all of us. We couldn't stay in that room. We had to come down. At first, I wasn't sure what was happening. Then I remembered the words of a prophet named Joel. He quoted God by saying, "In the last days I will give my Spirit freely to all kinds of people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy. Your old men will dream dreams. Your young men will see visions. At that time I will give my Spirit, even to my servants, both men and women. And they will prophesy."

Well, this is it! It is what God promised. A new age has come upon us. God is doing a new thing with us. It must be the power that Jesus promised. We can't control it. It is controlling us. This is it.

From that point on, Peter preached about Jesus. He who had once been the "loud mouth" among the disciples now spoke with purpose and conviction. He who once was afraid to own up to knowing Jesus spoke convincingly about him. With unusual power Peter preached about Jesus. So forceful was he that at the end of his sermon more than 3,000 people responded to follow Jesus Christ completely. Those who were previously curious came to know the joy of lives yielded to God.

You, too, can know that joy. All God wants from you is to be in fellowship with him. He will respond to your life-changing commitment by offering you the spiritual resources you need. You may or may not respond in ecstatic joy as did the 120 from the Upper Room, but you will know the joy and the fellowship of being in Christ.

With thanksgiving, would you join me as we pray?

O God, as you gave victorious power to those mentioned in this scripture, we today ask for divine power, not to live selfishly but to join you in loving this world back to yourself. We pray in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.