Hours after Jesus’ resurrection, He appeared to His secluded Disciples who were gathered in the room where they had previously shared the Passover supper (Last Supper) with Jesus. After pronouncing His peace unto them, He breathed on the group and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” (John 20:22) To many, this creates a mild sense of confusion, for it wasn’t until a few days later that He commanded them to remain in Jerusalem until they were baptized with the Holy Spirit. (Acts 1:5) To fully understand what was happening, we need to examine the Scriptures, especially the first two chapters of Acts.
For forty days after His resurrection, Jesus remained on earth teaching a graduate level course on the Kingdom of God. This was not a refresher course, but rather a level of teaching that could only be comprehended through the Holy Spirit. Instead of seeing God’s Kingdom related only to the Jews, the door to God’s ultimate plan for mankind was opened. The teachings that Jesus gave laid the foundation for the birth of the Church. The day of Jesus’ Ascension, He instructed them not to preach or teach until they were baptized with the Holy Spirit. Receiving the Holy Spirit gave the Disciples the ability to receive Truth, while the Baptism of the Holy Spirit gave them the power to display the Truth. Through tutorship and empowerment, the Holy Spirit affected the lives of the Disciples.
The Eleven returned to the Upper Room where they spent time in prayer. Jesus’ mother, along with some women, and His brothers were in attendance. (Acts 1:12-14) A few days later, Peter called an assembly of Believers to gather for a business meeting. Here about 120 people assembled to discuss the replacement for Judas. One will quickly notice upon reading of this account that there is a difference in Peter. He is quoting Scripture and speaking, not as a novice, but a seasoned Believer. The Holy Spirit was directing his effort. After Matthias was elected, the assembly was dismissed. (Acts 1:15-26) The 12 would continue to gather in the Upper Room to pray and wait for the fulfillment of Jesus’ words.
A few more days passed and the Feast of Pentecost began, commemorating the giving of the Law. (Fifty days after Passover.) In the Upper Room were assembled the 12 Disciples. On this special day, Jesus’ words were fulfilled and the Disciples were filled with the Holy Spirit. These 12 began to speak in languages that they did not know. (Acts 2:1-4) It was shortly after the overpowering of the Holy Spirit that they went to the Temple area to begin to fulfill Jesus’ commission of witnessing in Jerusalem. The city was filled with people there for their religious obligation to attend Pentecost. To their astonishment, they heard men declaring the wonderful works of God in their individual native languages. People were amazed, and wondered at this phenomenon. Some spectators even thought these men were drunk. (Acts 2:5-13)
Peter, the same man who weeks ago complained to Jesus that John was not asked to do something (John 21:21), now stands before a multitude to proclaim a message that would result in the conversion of over 3,000. (Acts 2:41) Jesus had taught him through the Holy Spirit during those 40 days (Acts 1:2), and now Peter was empowered to present the Word with convicting power. (2:14-41) The Disciples would spend many days sharing the Gospel around the Temple.
The Upper Room experiences were life changing for the Disciples: from the Passover Supper and foot washing, to experiencing the resurrected Jesus, to understanding prayer and its potential, to conducting business, and finally, to receiving the promise of God. (Acts 1:4) The world would soon feel the impact of a generation of Spirit filled people, who had a message to share.