Summary: Sometimes, we can become enamored with the past, and the day of Pentecost can be one of those things. However, in Christ, these are the good ol' days!
Ah, the good ol’ days. When you hear those words, what comes to mind? What do you think about when you hear the phrase, “good ol’ days”? Do memories of your childhood spring back to life? What about the days when you had your first taste of freedom, as you attended college, or graduated from high school? Do memories of raising a family come to mind, or just becoming married? Perhaps thoughts of first becoming retired, or becoming a grandparent appears.
The good ol’ days were something, weren’t they? It can be easy to become enamored with them. What is not to like about a time that was cheaper, safer, joyous, more familiar, seemingly more religious, and as the name suggests, good?
In the Acts reading, we see one of the good ol’ days of the Church: Pentecost. The first Pentecost was a great time in the church’s history. The apostles were still around, the Church was growing, the Spirit was poured out generously, and there was a passion for mission. Could you think of better days? You would be hard pressed to. Today, we’ll take a look at that good ol’ day of Pentecost.
Pentecost was an Old Testament feast. The word Pentecost means “50”, and it was a feast celebrated 50 days after the Passover Sabbath. It was the second great festival of the Jewish church year, and many Jews would try to make this feast. That explains the variety of people in our text. Pentecost was a feast where offerings were given and the first fruits of the barley harvest were brought before the Lord. But on this day, we see something special happening. We see the outpouring of God’s Spirit.
Luke describes the scene for us. He says, “When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.”
Fire commonly represents the presence of God’s Spirit. It is appropriate that we see tongues of fire above the believers since the Holy Spirit works through the Word and will work through their speech. The fire shows that. As a result of this outpouring of God’s Spirit, the believers are able to speak new languages that they never knew before. They are filled with the Holy Spirit and with His power and strength. What a day and time!
This event creates curiosity in the people. A crowd gathers to come check out the noise of wind that they heard. As they approach the scene, they are bewildered. They see normal, ordinary Galileans speaking in languages that would be foreign to them. They see them not speaking in Greek, Aramaic, or Hebrew, but in their own language and tongue. They hear them proclaiming the mighty works of God in their own language. I have had a relatable experience.
In 2010, I had a chance to go to Oberammergau in Germany to see their world renown passion play. It is an impressive play that is done with over 2,000 people that portrays the life of Christ up to His death and resurrection. This play is held every ten years and was started in response to God sparing their village from the plague some 400 years ago. When I saw the play, there was one little problem: I didn’t know any German. I could only watch and imagine what they were saying. I tried to follow along in the 90 page booklet, but that proved to be impossible. I was able to see the greatest and most important story in the world but couldn’t understand a word! How unfortunate! But on Pentecost, this was no longer a problem for people. People could hear God’s mighty works in a language that they could understand and comprehend. We had a taste of this this morning when he read the text read in different languages.
The people were amazed, but some doubted this miracle. They thought that these believers were drunk to the point that they were babbling. Peter of all people, stands up to refute and quiet those claims. He announces that the words of the prophet Joel have been fulfilled from the good ol’ days of Israel’s history, the days when they had a country. These people are not drunk, but rather Scripture has been fulfilled. Peter says, “in the last days,” that is, right now, the time between Christ’s death and resurrection and His Second Coming, “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; even on my male servants and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit, and they shall prophesy.”