Cut to the Heart

When Peter preached on the day of Pentecost, thousands of people were baptized and were added to the body of believers that day. What would lead to such a great revival? When we think revival, we think of motivational speakers who connect people to the heart of God, convincing them to believe and keep their life right with God. But what happened on Pentecost was less of a revival and more of a mess of brokenness.

Peter was blunt: “Men of Israel, hear these words: ‘Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know–this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men'” (Acts 2:22, 23 ESV). Peter again made his point clear: “Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified” (vs. 36).

“Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart” (vs 37). That word was used only here in the entire Bible. It literally means to pierce down, meaning that they were pierced all the way down to the bottom of their heart. This was not just a shrugged off sadness. Rather, it would have been a violent piercing of their emotions. It shook them to their core that they chose a prisoner to be released over Jesus. The irony is that, as they were celebrating the Passover, they were sending God’s Lamb to be slaughtered. It was a dark day for them, but their asking Peter and the other apostles what they should do shows us that they were genuinely repentant.

Peter told them to repent and be baptized for the forgiveness of their sins and they would receive God’s Spirit. The response was swift and encouraging. The crowd responded in the best possible way and so began the church.