GOSPEL FOR ALL?
Lord, thank You for communicating with us.
Read ACTS 2:1–13
The Holy Spirit Comes at Pentecost
2 When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. 2 Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. 4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues[a] as the Spirit enabled them.
5 Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. 6 When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard their own language being spoken. 7 Utterly amazed, they asked: “Aren’t all these who are speaking Galileans? 8 Then how is it that each of us hears them in our native language? 9 Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia,[b] 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome 11 (both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs—we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!” 12 Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, “What does this mean?”
13 Some, however, made fun of them and said, “They have had too much wine.”
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
‘God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things’ (1 Cor 1:28).
In the UK we often hear about the ‘North-South divide,’ and such divisions are found in many countries. Certainly, this was the case in Israel. Judeans in the south often looked down on Galileans in the north. The southerners had the temple and the capital, Jerusalem. Galileans who lacked such cultural and spiritual assets were viewed as unsophisticated, even stupid (G Vermes, Jesus in the Jewish Context, SCM Press, 2003, p4,5).
Such attitudes may be reflected in our passage, for the disciples are Galileans. The crowd’s astonishment at the languages they speak may not be just because they’ve seen a miracle. The words, ‘Aren’t all these who are speaking Galileans?’ (7) may reflect their disbelief that uneducated northerners could speak such languages (DL Bock, Acts, Baker Academic, 2007, p101). We are also told that some mocked the disciples, calling them drunk. They probably found this easier to believe than accepting that God has poured out His Spirit on ordinary people. After all, until then the Spirit had only been given to special individuals for specific tasks. The Pharisees clearly believed that no prophet could come from Galilee (John 7:52).
Pentecost shows that the gospel is for people of all countries, because all nationalities hear God’s word in their own language. It also shows that Christianity is for all within each nation – the educated and the uneducated, the rich and the poor. Yet churches in wealthier areas often have more money and resources, more paid staff and better facilities than churches in poorer areas. It is often noted that churches seem to prosper in middle-class, wealthier places but struggle elsewhere. The reasons are complex, but at Pentecost we remember that God’s Spirit used a small group of unschooled Galileans to change the world. Let us ask for the Spirit to show us how our churches can help to heal separation in our nation rather than simply reflect those divisions.
In what ways does the church need to change to demonstrate that God’s message really is for all in our society?
Lord, we appreciate how You use the people that the upper crust in society despises because it pleases You to do this.