Summary: The Holy Spirit comes upon the disciples and energizes them for mission and ministry. The church is born and the Spirit continues to energize God’s people to this day.
Acts 2:1-21 “Energized”
We are creatures of habit, and we go through most of our lives on cruise control. Occasionally, though, something out of the ordinary happens and we are immediately inquisitive.
• We make it from the #303 to the #101 and only hit one stoplight.
• Our wife makes our favorite meal on a non-special day, or our husband knocks off a few items on the “honey-do” list without being asked.
• Our children clean up their rooms without our instigation, and they come when they are called.
We wonder why, and we ask ourselves, “What does this mean?”
As we examine the events of the first Pentecost Sunday, it is important for us to ask that same question, “What does this mean?” This is the question that the people asked in verse 12 of the story. Such a question will uncover many surprising and powerful answers.
For three years the disciples had walked with Jesus. Now, Jesus was gone. The disciples had seen him ascend into heaven, and they had received the promise of the Holy Spirit. They weren’t quite sure, however, what that promise meant. The disciples were wondering if Jesus would be with them as they continued his ministry, and how he would be with them.
The book of Acts was written to a people who were experiencing persecution. They had never walked with Jesus. Instead, they had responded in faith the message shared with them by the disciples. As they faced the challenges and difficulties of life these early Christians wondered if Jesus was going to be with them.
We are in the same predicament as the early Christians. We too have responded to the teachings of the Church. We have never seen Jesus. Only a few of us have witnessed a healing miracle and few still an exorcism. As we sometimes struggle through life we too wonder if Jesus is with us.
The events of Pentecost loudly proclaim that God is not satisfied with being a distant God. God is a God who is intimately involved in our lives. God is a God who is present. God is a God who has intersected our history and is involved in the everyday affairs of humankind.
There are times when we, as Christians feel so powerless. God seems so distant. We are not the first ones who have felt this way. Luke, the writer of the book of Acts, wants to assure his readers that God is moving powerfully through the work of the Holy Spirit.
The mighty wind that descended upon the disciples on that first Pentecost was not a destructive wind. It wasn’t like a tornado or a hurricane. It was a productive wind.
The wind was first a breath of life. The Spirit moves powerfully in our lives by giving us new life, and new hope.
I envision the Holy Spirit moving like the wind that powers the wind turbines on highway 10 in California. The wind is steady and powerful.
• The wind enables people to communicate the good news of God’s love and grace.
• The wind gives courage to frightened disciples and empowers them to preach to a crowd of thousands.
• The wind spreads the gospel to all of humankind.
The Spirit enabled the disciples to speak in other languages. This is again a symbol of the inclusivity of the gospel. There is no secret language to enter into God’s kingdom. Instead, the gospel is translated into the language of the people.
One of the unique characteristics of Christianity is how the gospel is translated into the common language of the people. It isn’t like Islam where the Koran is translated into other languages, but it is understood that reading the Koran in Arabic is best.
In verse 21, it says that all who call upon the name of Jesus shall be saved. In recent decades this was been understood to mean that the person who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved from hell for heaven. Originally, this verse placed more stress on the present day proclaiming that the person who called on Jesus name would live in a relationship with Jesus and be saved for God’s family and for carrying on the ministry of Jesus.
Pentecost is about more than the miraculous and the spectacular. Pentecost is the proclamation of God presence and power. God’s preferred future has broken into the world, so that people may experience life as God’s children and walk with God in God’s kingdom.