The next days were days of much learning for Simon. Day after day he sat at the disciples feet and listened to them teach about Jesus. The disciples at first had been so heartbroken about their witness during the trial and crucifixion of Jesus that they had gone back to their old jobs, but Jesus had called them all anew one morning by asking Peter how much he loved Jesus. The call of Jesus to them was to forsake all and follow him. So now the disciples were busy about the work of the Lord. Often Jesus was alone just with eleven, but often many others were included. Once Jesus preached to a huge crowd of over five thousand people. Every day was busy. Simon met so many of the people whose lives were changed by Jesus and were now ready to spread the words of Jesus to all the world.
Simon spent a few days seeing to his business affairs in Jerusalem and witnessing to his helpers about Jesus. His whole team were now believers and daily in the teaching sessions. Alexander and Rufus were staying in Bethany with Mary and Martha as days became weeks-forty days! It was a day never to be forgotten.
Jesus had gathered together the main core of his disciples and spoke to them. Simon was included in the select group now and followed with the other disciples along the road out of Jerusalem to the Mount of Olives where he gathered them all around him and said:
“Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and I am with you always, even to the end of the world.
“Behold I send the promise of my Father upon you: but stay in the City of Jerusalem until you be filled with power from on High. For John baptized with water; but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit in only a few days!
“It is not for you to know the times or the season which the Father hath put in his own power. But you shall receive power after the Holy Spirit is come upon you: and you shall be witnesses unto me in Jerusalem, and in Judea, in Samaria and unto the uttermost part of the earth.”
Then Jesus lifted up his hands and blessed them! And as they all looked at him, Jesus was taken up and a cloud received him out of their sight. The awesome Holiness of God was all about as they stood looking toward the sky as he went up. Then they realized there were two men standing by them in white garments, “You men of Galilee, why are you looking up toward heaven? This same Jesus which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come forth in just the same way that you have seen him go!”
They all began to worship the Lord Jesus, praising and blessing God as they made their way back into the city. No longer a confused, disappointed, fearful band of believers, but now alive, full of faith, ready to go-
They all gathered together in an upper room in Jerusalem and were continually in prayer, study, singing and praising God. There were men and women present including Mary, the mother of Jesus, for a total of about one hundred twenty persons. A new disciple was chosen to replace Judas and there they continued together day after day. It was an awesome time of love and fellowship! Everyone was of the same mind and spirit. There were no doubts, no arguments, only one desire, to go forth ministering to the needy and preaching the good news of Jesus to all people.
The Day of Pentecost came, and they were still all in one place, in one perfect accord, and suddenly-there came a sound from heaven-WHOOSH-it was like a mighty wind and the whole house was filled where they were sitting and fire like tongues sat upon each person in the room. Then each person began to speak in other languages as the Spirit moved upon them. Soon the news spread through the city and thousands and thousands of people began to gather about. There were people in Jerusalem who had come from all parts of the world speaking many languages-people from everywhere, people from Asia, Asia Minor, Europe, Egypt and Africa. Soon all the one hundred and twenty people were outside speaking to the people the wonderful works of God. They were speaking to the people in the person’s native tongue. Simon was speaking to a group of men from Asia in a language he had never before heard, but they understood perfectly. It was a day of power and glory to God. Simon was filled with the power of the Holy Spirit and stood teaching about Jesus with boldness and authority.
He saw men beginning to weep under the burden of sin and eager to hear the good news of deliverance. The streets were packed with people as far as one could see, then they moved to an open area where more could gather, but some in the crowd began to criticize and say that all the disciples were drunk with wine. Then Peter stood up on a high place with the other disciples standing behind him. The crowd began to hush in silence as he spoke:
“You people, hear my words. This is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel-‘it shall come to pass in the last days that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh-and it shall come to pass that whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.’ You men of Israel, hear these words. Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and signs, which God did by Him as you know-Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, you have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain-This Jesus hath God raised up! We are witnesses of this. He is at the right hand of the Father and hath sent forth the power of the Holy Spirit. This is what you see and hear. Let all the house of Israel know that this same Jesus whom you have crucified is both Lord and Christ, the Messiah!”
All about Simon people were gripped by the sermon of God through Peter. They wanted to know what to do. They were aware of their tragic sin and called out to Peter saying, “What shall we do?” Then Peter, with great boldness and power, spoke again. It was not the tear-filled, fearful, dejected man that Simon had met on the road out of Jerusalem after he had denied Jesus, but he was now the witness that surely Jesus was pleased with. Gone were his curse words and doubts, and Simon listened in joy as Peter’s words thundered forth:
“Repent! Be baptized everyone of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of your sins and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit! This power is for all of you, to your children, and to all who are far off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call. Save yourself from this wicked generation!”
Peter continued to preach and encourage people. There was prayer everywhere… people returning to Jesus, putting their faith in him, turning away from their sins, and asking forgiveness through the shed blood of Jesus. The disciples explained that those who believed in Jesus and turned to Him as Lord were now disciples of Jesus and that the Holy Spirit was in them. Now they should be baptized. It was a most glorious moment as the thousands stood on the nearby hillside and one after the other the disciples baptized the new converts in the pool of water. Simon stepped into the water and stood praising God. The disciple said, “I baptize you in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit,” and lowered Simon into the water. As he came forth, he saw Rufus and Alexander standing ready to be baptized also.
Then he saw Mark Augustine, the Roman soldier, stepping toward the water. It was a glorious day that continued into the night as thousands of new converts poured into the home of followers of Jesus to study the teachings of Jesus and spend the night. Day after day the apostles taught the people and everyone fellowshipped together in love, in eating together, and in prayer. People all over the city became concerned about the condition of their souls and great miracles were done by the apostles as the sick were healed and lives changed. Simon continued to study and learn from the apostles. He was also out in the streets with the good news. They went from house to house preaching and teaching in the name of Jesus. Everyday they were also at the Temple and spreading out all over the area. People came from all the surrounding area to hear the good news. There was constant rejoicing in the Lord and mighty prayer meetings. Everyone looked upon each other as a brother or sister, regardless of race, nation, language or wealth.
The people began to sell their houses and lands and gave their money to the church to be distributed among the needy. The people had everything in common. Simon was among them. He gave all his wealth to the church including the price of his house in Jerusalem. All those who came with him decided to stay and he wrote Thaddeus, the administrator of his affairs, and asked him to get things in order to be sold as soon as he returned to Cyrene. The city was literally astir with the fire of Jesus, but soon the officials made their move.
Peter and John were brought before the religious authorities in Jerusalem, the same ones who had arrested Jesus. They ordered them not to speak or teach in the name of Jesus. Peter and John and the church continued to proclaim Jesus’ teaching with boldness.
The condition of trouble grew worse as disciples were put in prison, and then Stephen, a young disciple, was stoned to death for preaching the words of Jesus. All throughout Jerusalem crowds were seeking out followers of Jesus to beat and kill. It was merciless and blood was flowing daily from the veins of the disciples.
Then-one night, as many of the disciples met for prayer, Simon was walking along the road toward Jerusalem from the country. His mind flashed back to his village, his tribe and his people, and the words of Jesus seemed so close-“Go into all the world-that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name among all nations.” There were many witnesses here, but what about his native land? Sure, there were the Baba tribesmen-but they didn’t even know of the death and resurrection of Jesus. Who would tell? Again in the darkness it seemed clear- “As my Father hath sent me, so send I you” were the words of Jesus.
Then he remembered the last words of the old man in his village-“You seek the truth; so do we. You go and find it, then bring it back to us!” Simon knelt to the ground and lay his head to the dirt. In his mind he thought of the lostness of the vast world-all the people seeking-in religion, in wealth, in pleasure, in power and fame. He remembered the emptiness of his own search, and tears washed his face. “Yes, Jesus! I’ll go…. anywhere. I have no other desire but thy Holy Will. Direct my steps, mold me and fill me with thy Holy Spirit… Here am I… Send me.