- A simple trip to the doctor about a funny bump on your back can change into a battle with cancer.
- A long agonizing struggle to conceive a child can change into a couple months of morning sickness.
- A frigid cold winter can change into the warm breezes of springtime and new blossoms colorizing the countryside.
- An office flirtation can change into a full-blown adulterous affair.
- A great job can be changed into a demoralizing trip to the unemployment office.
- A long night of studying for final exams can change into graduation, marriage, and a job.
When "they" huddled together on Pentecost in the upper room, God changed everything. It had been merely 50 days before that "they" had abandoned Jesus and fled, leaving him to face the cruelty, the crowd, and the cross alone. The "twelve" apostles had seen 1 of their number betray Jesus for 30 pieces of silver, then go out and hang himself. It had only been 50 days since Peter denied being a "Galilean" and one of Jesus' disciples. Peter even cursed, swearing that he had never known Jesus. It had been just 50 days since they had "all" hidden in fear at the thought of what might happen next. But, a lot can change in 50 days — especially when they are 50 days of grace!
When we pick up the New Testament and read about that great and special Pentecost, a quick glace of Acts 2:1-14 reveals to us the new "twelve" (Peter and the 11) are the "they" and the "all" who are suddenly emboldened to speak so powerfully for Jesus. "They" are no longer ashamed to be known as "Galileans" who followed a carpenter named Jesus of Nazareth. They openly stood up before a mob and proclaimed that the Jesus whom they — a crowd stirred to violence by their jealous leaders — told Pilate to crucify was now Lord and Christ. (Acts 2:33-36) Jesus' chosen leaders who stood so bravely and boldly on that Pentecost, had been liars, traitors, and foul-mouthed cowards seven weeks earlier. Now, however, they were willing to risk everything, including their lives, to speak up for him. You see, a lot can change with 50 days of grace.
Why did they have to wait for 50 days — from Passover and Jesus' death to Pentecost and the pouring out of the Holy Spirit — before they started sharing the message of salvation?
Most of the time we assume it was because Jesus wanted them to wait for another big crowd to assemble in Jerusalem — with Jews from all over the world in Jerusalem at Pentecost, the message of Jesus could travel quickly. So most of us assume that Jesus waited until Pentecost to pour out the Holy Spirit and send them on their way to make the biggest impact. I don't think it's a bad theory, but I have a second one to place alongside it. Fallen disciples, broken leaders, and shattered loyalty needed 50 days of grace to be restored. Jesus needed to confront Peter about his failure. (John 21:15-19) Jesus can change people a lot during 50 days of grace.
Jesus "was handed over to die because of our sins, and he was raised from the dead to make us right with God." (Romans 4:25 NLT)
Isn't it time you really heard that?
Isn't it time for you to believe that his death can cover your sins?
Isn't it time to trust that his resurrection insures that he has the power to make you right with God?
Isn't it time to believe that Jesus can take you and your past, with all its good and bad, and use you for his glory as people see the triumph of grace in your life?
Isn't time to move on from the failures, the lies, the denials, the cowardice, and step up and live for Jesus in a powerful way because his Holy Spirit lives in you?
A lot can change for you and me, if only we will trust that God can change us, bless us, and restore us because of 50 days of grace!