June 9 – Trip to the Holy Land – The Southern Steps

DAY 28 – THE SOUTHERN STEPS

Theme: The Holy Spirit

Read Acts 2:1-41

I love walking in authentic places in Israel. So much of the history of the land lies hidden beneath church buildings and shrines built through the ages. Therefore, it’s refreshing to walk along the shore of the Sea of Galilee and imagine Jesus preparing breakfast for his disciples. It’s fascinating to climb the slopes of the Herodian and look down toward the same fields where angels appeared to the shepherds on the night of Jesus’ birth.

I have that same feeling when I visit the southern steps of the Temple Mount. Nobody has built a shrine or a church there. Repairs have been done to some of the steps, but many stones remain undisturbed for the last 2000 years since Jesus walked, taught, and performed miracles there.

It’s not difficult to imagine throngs of people ascending those steps each year at one of the three major Jewish festivals to offer their animals in sacrifice. Thousands of people would flock to Jerusalem from all over the world to celebrate the work of God on behalf of his people during Passover, Pentecost, and Tabernacles.

One year at Pentecost, the Spirit of God did something miraculous on those steps. The Book of Acts tells us the disciples had gathered a few hundred yards away in the Upper Room following the resurrection of Jesus to “wait for the gift” he promised. Suddenly, the Holy Spirit came on them, a violent wind came from heaven, and tongues of fire appeared to rest on each of them.

They made their way toward the Temple and were supernaturally empowered to preach in foreign languages they had never previously known. People who had come from all over the world to offer sacrifices at the Temple in Jerusalem heard the disciples “declaring the wonders of God” in their own languages (Acts 2:11).

Finally, Peter raised his voice above the clamoring throng and proclaimed the truth about Jesus. 3000 people became followers of Christ that day, and the Church was born!  The Bible even says that “those who accepted his message were baptized…” (Acts 2:41a).

But wait… where did they get all the water for baptism?  Archaeological excavations near the southern steps have revealed mikvahs or ritual baths that were used to prepare the people as they brought their animals to the temple. Apparently those same ritual baths were used for baptizing new converts to Jesus Christ on the Day of Pentecost.

And here is better news… The same Spirit of God who empowered believers in those early days of the Church is available to you and me. Today, the Holy Spirit baptizes us into the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:13), seals us forever with the guarantee of our redemption (Ephesians 1:13–14) and convicts us of sin (John 16:8).

Whatever you need today for life and godliness has been already provided by the Presence of God in your life as He reveals the Truth of God to you (2 Peter 1:3).

Prayer of reflection:  Thank you, Holy Spirit, for your presence in my life.  I surrender to your control today and ask you to guide my thoughts, attitudes and actions.

Bob Fetterhoff

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