THE HOLY SPIRIT COMES
Today Lord, send the light of your Holy Spirit into my life.
Read ACTS 2:1–21
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.”
Peter Addresses the Crowd
14 Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd: “Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say. 15 These people are not drunk, as you suppose. It’s only nine in the morning! 16 No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel:
17 “‘In the last days, God says,
I will pour out my Spirit on all people.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy,
your young men will see visions,
your old men will dream dreams.
18 Even on my servants, both men and women,
I will pour out my Spirit in those days,
and they will prophesy.
19 I will show wonders in the heavens above
and signs on the earth below,
blood and fire and billows of smoke.
20 The sun will be turned to darkness
and the moon to blood
before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord.
21 And everyone who calls
on the name of the Lord will be saved.’[c]
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.
‘… everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved’ (v 21). Do we sometimes make faith too complicated?
I wonder if any of Paul’s Roman friends had been in Jerusalem for this day of Pentecost (v 10). Luke (travel companion of Paul) would certainly have understood the revolutionary nature of these events for the young Jewish/Gentile church growing around the Mediterranean. Jerusalem, full of pilgrims for the festival, could have been a living example of that later Roman church: diverse cultures, languages, ages – all united in God’s praise (v 11). Luke, more than other Gospel writers, focuses on the work of the Holy Spirit.1 Here, the coming of the Holy Spirit miraculously breaks down all barriers, transcends human particularity, brings to birth the new people of God – and sets in motion Christ’s mission plan.2
The festival of Pentecost was agricultural, historical, and religious.3 This harvest season, together with the preceding Passover, was for the Jewish people inseparable from the Exodus salvation story. Of course, for the Christian church, the symbolism of both is caught up in the death of Christ for all people, with Pentecost being the celebration of the ‘firstfruits’.4 For our Christian minds, this event is redolent with memories of God’s big story. Here is the reversal of the Babel story, with God coming to man, bringing unity through the work of his Son Jesus. Here, at this moment, the Spirit of God descends, beginning a new chapter for the whole human race.
What was happening? Are these people drunk (vs 13,15)?! Peter (the scared denier) knows an explanation is needed (v 14)! Backed up by the eleven, he tells what he knows. Joel’s words spring to mind (vs 17–21):5 this is the foretold outpouring of God’s Spirit, which Jesus himself, had said was imminent.6 Somehow, Peter understands – this is a new beginning for God’s gospel mission (v 21).
We’ve also denied and lied, but dare we, like Peter, step to the front and tell others what we know now about God, his Son Jesus, and the Holy Spirit?
Today Lord, send the fullness of the Holy Spirit into my life. The Spirit’s wisdom and understanding, his counsel and might, his knowledge and true godliness.
1 E.g. Luke 1:35,67; 2:26,27; 3:22; 4:1,18,19 2 Acts 1:8 3 John Stott, The Message of Acts, IVP, 1990, p61–62 4 Exod 23:16 5 Joel 2:28–32 6 Acts 1:5