Before that special Shavuot that followed the Messiah’s death, burial and resurrection, Yeshua’s followers in Jerusalem may have not numbered more than 120. But, after Shavuot, and the pouring out of the Spirit from Heaven, and the great message that Peter gave, the community suddenly and vastly increased! About 3000 devout and religious Jews became followers of the Risen Rabbi that day. Together with the 120, they became a loving and supportive, worshiping and witnessing community. From that greatest of communities, the message of salvation, the Good News about the Messiah, would go to the rest of Israel and the other nations of the world!
Here is my premise: That earliest community of Messianic Jews in Jerusalem, of all New Covenant communities since that time, was closest to the Three-In-One God. Those Messianic Jews were closest to the truth. They had the greatest spiritual understanding. They had the most spiritual power. If that was the case, and I believe it was, that community is our role model. We want to be like them.
Luke, in Acts 2, gives us a description of what that model New Covenant community was like, and what made them the best. They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching. The 12 had been taught by the Lord – for three or four years while He was with them before His death, and for 40 days after His resurrection. They understood Rabbi Yeshua’s teachings and they understood the Tenach – and how old and new fit together. The Lord gave the teachings to His representatives and they in turn gave them to us through their writings in the pages of the New Testament. If we are going to be like that first, blessed community, we need to really get to know their teachings and remain within those Messiah-given apostolic teachings.
They were continually devoting themselves to the fellowship. Their fellowship was different from all other fellowships. The things they shared in common made their fellowship unique. The Lordship of Messiah made their fellowship unique. The special indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit made their fellowship unique. The apostles and their authoritative and true teaching made their fellowship unique. Salvation made their fellowship unique. The sure hope of eternal life made their fellowship unique. They were devoted to their community, steadfastly committed to it, and its well-being.
They were continually devoting themselves to the breaking of bread. Eating a meal draws usually people closer together. Like a loving community of made of family and close friends, they ate together, getting to know one another, getting closer and closer to one another.
They were continually devoting themselves to prayer. They steadfastly committed themselves to talk to God together, bringing their needs, prayers and requests to Him.
They were a powerful community. Everyone kept feeling a sense of awe; and many wonders and signs were taking place through the emissaries. Great outpourings of miracles have been relatively rare in the long history of the Jewish people and the history of the Church. This was a special time in salvation history. Immanuel had come into this world, overcoming our greatest enemies – Satan, sin and death. He had done great miracles. And, the Spirit of the Messiah had just been poured out on Messiah’s followers. This was a special time when many miracles were taking place. But notice that the Lord did not enable everyone to do miracles. Signs and wonders were taking place through His emissaries. This validated the authority of the apostles. This established their leadership. They were the Messiah-chosen, Messiah-sent leaders of God’s Israel. It was them and their teaching that needed to be respected.
They were a generous, supportive, sharing, non-materialistic community. The members of the community were not focused on building up their own individual wealth. They were characterized by giving, not taking. And all those who had believed were together and had all things in common; and they began selling their property and possessions and were sharing them with all, as anyone might have need. Functioning like an extended family, some members sold off some of their wealth and used it to support those who had financial needs.
They were a united community. Day by day continuing with one mind… They were united around good leadership – the Lord and His emissaries. They were united around good teaching. They were united by the Spirit that they had all received, united by the initiation ceremony of baptism they had all experienced, united around salvation and the sure hope of living forever in the New Jerusalem. They shared a multifaceted and profound unity.
They were a worshiping community. Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple… praising God. As long as the temple stood, it was a very special place. It was rich in meaning and history and purpose, rich because it was the place of God’s special presence on Earth, meaningful because it was the place where the principles of atonement and sacrifice were clearly seen. In the temple the believers prayed and worship and witnessed and taught.
They were a close community. Day by day … breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart. They spent time with each other frequently, eating together, getting to know one another, getting closer to one another. Those were happy, joyous times.
They were a witnessing community. They were a growing community. Day by day … they were having favor with all the people. And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved. The community prayed. They worshiped. They praised the Lord. They witnessed. But it was the Lord who added to their number. Salvation is something only God can do. We must do our part to pray for the lost, and speak to men and women who are captive to Satan, sin and death, but only the God of our salvation can do His part and save and transform those who are dead in their trespasses and sins.
What a great community! They were a powerful community; a generous, supportive, sharing, non-materialistic community; a united community; a close community; a worshiping community; a witnessing community; a growing community.
May the Lord make us more and more like that model community – close to the Three-In-One God, close to the truth, filled with the Holy Spirit and spiritual understanding, knowledgeable about and resolute in the apostles’ teaching, devoted to the fellowship, devoted to spending quality time with each other, devoted to prayer and praise and worship. And may the Lord be please to add to us a great many Jewish and Gentiles whom He chooses to save!