Thursday of Pentecost - Acts 2:1-21
When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. 2 And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. 3 And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. 4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.
5 Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven. 6 And at this sound the multitude came together, and they were bewildered, because each one was hearing them speak in his own language. 7 And they were amazed and astonished, saying, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? 8 And how is it that we hear, each of us in his own native language? 9 Parthians and Medes and Elamites and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, 11 both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabians—we hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God.” 12 And all were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” 13 But others mocking said, “They are filled with new wine.”
14 But Peter, standing with the eleven, lifted up his voice and addressed them: “Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and give ear to my words. 15 For these people are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day. 16 But this is what was uttered through the prophet Joel:
17 “‘And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams; 18 even on my male servants and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit, and they shall prophesy. 19 And I will show wonders in the heavens above and signs on the earth below, blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke; 20 the sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon to blood, before the day of the Lord comes, the great and magnificent day. 21 And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.’
Have you ever noticed how God often uses some odd people to be his best missionaries? The immoral woman of John 4 or the ex-demoniac of Mark 5 come to mind. But of course, Paul’s persecuting past did not make him an obvious choice for the apostolic role. This pattern did not stop with the Bible. John Newton, author of the familiar hymn “Amazing Grace” had been a slave trader before his later career as pastor and hymnwriter. Amazing Grace is not his only contribution. In LSB alone he also penned “Glorious Things of You are Spoken” “How Sweet the name of Jesus Sounds” “Come, My Soul, with Every Care” and “On What has Now Been Sown.” More recently Charles Colson, indicted in the scandals of the Nixon era, became the founder of the influential Prison Fellowship Ministry.
In this reading, the people of Jerusalem saw rustic Galilean fishermen, but now Spirit-bearing disciples, and assumed they are drunk. Being a baptized and thus Spirit-filled Christian will often put us on a collision course with people’s expectations. The Holy Spirit operates with a strange and surprising logic. He sees things which our human reason cannot grasp. Peter identifies for his audience why they are so surprised: God is at work.
That same Holy Spirit, poured out in every baptism and through the ministry of Word and the fellowship of God’s people, is at work today. He is at work through you. We cannot expect that this will make a great deal of sense or at least it might not make sense at the time. In hindsight we can see Paul’s zeal for the Torah becoming just what the Church needed as it navigated its way into a ministry to Gentiles. Newton’s and Colson’s past experiences gave their words an authenticity. But those are assessments we make in hindsight. It likely felt very different for people at the time and for these men themselves.
What does this out-poured Spirit of God move you to do today in this kingdom? I am excited to see it. Pray for discernment and listen to His Word. Times of unrest and upset are frequently when He has something in mind.
Rev. Phillip Brandt, MDiv, PhD
Rejoice in the Spirit!