Yesterday, we celebrated Pentecost. If you’re unaware of what that church holiday is, it is the remembrance of when the Holy Spirit descended on the small group of believers after Jesus’ ascension into Heaven. I wrote about Ascension Sunday last week. We recognize Pentecost as the birth of the church because of what happened next. After receiving the Holy Spirit, Peter stood up and preached to a crowd that consisted of tens of thousands of Jews. You see, Pentecost is a Jewish festival. It commemorated when God gave Moses the Law at Mt. Sinai and served as a thanksgiving for the beginning of the harvest. On top of that, it was a pilgrim festival— meaning that every able body Jewish man had to be in Jerusalem to celebrate. Women and children were able to go as well, but it was not mandatory. That is why there were so many people there from a bunch of countries that are hard to pronounce (as seen in Acts 2). I have always said that Jesus never wasted an opportunity with a crowd; the disciples would soon go on to imitate that.
My favorite aspect of this story is that Peter is the one who got to deliver the inaugural sermon of the newly-founded Christian church. He stood up and recounted the story of Jesus’ death, resurrection, and ascension. He went on to quote the prophet Joel and told the crowd, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Acts 2:21). We are told in Acts 2:41 that ‘about three thousand’ people placed their faith in Christ and were baptized that day. Not bad for a first sermon!
By worldly standards, Peter was severely unqualified to be the one that preached on that day. He had no formal training. We know that Peter was a fisherman. This was a blue-collar career that was not meant for the highly educated. By knowing what he did for a living, it tells us that he was passed over by rabbis who could have chosen him to become a part of their school and tutelage. The rabbis would choose the best of the best and invite those students into their mentorship. However, Peter was seen as not good enough, not smart enough, and without a bright enough future. That was until he met a teacher who saw much more in him than anyone could have possibly imagined.
When Peter first encountered Jesus along the shore of the Sea of Galilee, he — as well as Andrew (his brother), James, and John— had just spent the entire night fishing and caught nothing. They had toiled and toiled, but their nets had come up empty every time. Jesus convinced them to cast their nets one more time, and they brought in the greatest fishing haul of their lives. That’s when the Messiah said to Peter, “From now on you will be catching people” (Luke 5:10). From that point on, Peter followed Christ everywhere that he went. That is, except for the cross when Peter denied knowing who Jesus was.
Even though Peter stumbled at that moment, it did not mean that the promise that Jesus gave to him became void. Although it took a little over three years, Christ delivered on his word, and Peter was able to bring in a much larger and more significant catch than anything his nets ever gathered. He played a part in thousands coming into salvation!
It is ultimately untrue for me to say that Peter was not qualified to deliver that speech to the people. He had the only qualifications that mattered: faith in Christ, the promise from his savior, and the gift of the Holy Spirit. Everything else, as Paul puts it in Philippians 3:8, is ‘rubbish’. It didn’t matter that he didn’t go through all of the proper training; all that mattered was that Jesus was a man of his word— as well as the Holy Spirit’s empowerment.
Jesus has far more in store for us than we could ever imagine. We always want to get caught up in the minutia of if we are qualified or good enough. Rubbish. It’s not about you and never will be. It is about God’s promise to use you, and the Holy Spirit living in you and working through you. That is the promise of Pentecost. Every one of us is in that same boat as Peter. There is a myriad of reasons that we can lay out to explain why we’re not worthy of such a call. What makes you worthy is not being called but the one who has called you. Just as Peter learned in that boat, there is nothing impossible for Christ. Jesus can and will use you to fill your nets beyond your wildest dreams.
Don’t worry, you will never have to do it on your own. That is why the Holy Spirit descended on that Pentecost day nearly two thousand years ago. That is why the Holy Spirit still descends upon all who believe today— to enable us to do what it is that we have all been called to do. We are to love God, love others, and tell the world about Jesus. We may never preach to tens of thousands of people at one time, but we can impact those who are around us daily. While that may not seem like much compared to what Peter did, it will be life-changing to those whom we affect. If we simply love God, love all that we encounter daily, and tell people about Christ, that is enough. It is only through the Holy Spirit that we can be empowered to reach such a lofty goal, and thank God that the Holy Spirit dwells in all believers. That is what makes you qualified to go and do what Christ has called you to. So, go and cast your nets as often you can, and watch as Jesus gives you a far greater haul than you could ever imagine.