Brothers, listen! In this man Jesus there is forgiveness for your sins.” Acts 13:38, NLT

Monday’s page in my Bible Study guide describes the incredible circumstance of Pentecost; the amazing phenomenon . . . fiery tongues of the Holy Spirit conferring special powers on the people who were to be the first emissaries of the gospel.

Honestly, I’ve always been intrigued by this story. As the nucleus for Christ’s formative church, the little group of men (and a few women) was ready to receive the outpouring. They were of one accord and unified in purpose. And yet, just days before, they had gone into the upper room dragging all their old emotional baggage with them. Notwithstanding recent events, their attitudes of intolerance, self-promotion, doubt, and legalism were still alive and well. These were, after all, the same disciples who wanted fire rained down on a Samaritan village, little kids kept away from Jesus, and Him not talking to certain women. They didn’t like Gentiles or foreigners, and they weren’t crazy about each other. And in that same room a few weeks before, they sat with folded arms, immersed in their own pride, while Jesus took the role of servant and washed their feet.

What could possibly have changed them so completely in so short a time? Jesus had told them to go there to pray and wait, but He had returned to heaven. They sat in that room facing each other. What happened, I wondered . . . what changed them?

In a word, I think the answer is forgiveness. Jesus had told them that the work of the Holy Spirit was to “convince the world of sin.” And in that upper room, I believe the Holy Spirit brought their collective conscience to understand how importance forgiveness is. They needed to get forgiveness. They needed to give forgiveness. One thing prayer will do is help you understand how much you need forgiveness. And imagine the list of people they needed to forgive: the Roman soldiers who nailed Jesus to the cross, the Jewish leaders who orchestrated the destruction of their dreams. Not to mention . . . each other.

And they needed to accept forgiveness for themselves.

In truth, the Good News is that forgiveness is still available. Any time, any place. And for anybody.

Linda Nottingham

First published in Notes of Joy (Nampa, ID: Pacific Press), 2018.
Carolyn R. Sutton, editor