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Seeking to equip people to live as Christian disciples wherever God has placed them.

Monday, May 14, 2018

“Running Down Everywhere”

Acts 2:1-21

This is one of the greatest miracles recorded in scripture.  The disciples who have no abilities, no special importance, no social or political influence. are gathered together. All of a sudden the Holy Spirit comes upon them. They are not asking for the Spirit.  The Spirit comes upon them under its own initiative (John 3:8).  What follows appears to be more a miracle of hearing than of speaking. We read that “devout Jews from every nation” were present for the Pentecost festival. They were amazed and astonished that they could hear the disciples speaking in their native language.  Luke in writing this account makes clear that the group also includes Gentiles who had embraced the faith of Israel as proselytes (converts). This scene points both backward and forward in the whole record of scripture.

At the first level this miracle is the undoing of the confusion of languages which took place at the Tower of Babel (Gen.11). God caused division and confusion among the nations because of their pride and idolatry. Here on the day of Pentecost the division of languages is overcome. Pentecost also points forward to the vision in Revelation where an innumerable gathering of people from every tribe, nation and language will join in praising the Lamb of God on the throne (Rev 7:9-10). People in Jerusalem are amazed and perplexed at all this. Yet some dismiss it outright saying, in effect, that the disciples are drunk. This is an important lesson. Whenever God’s Spirit is poured out in miraculous ways there are always those who, in spite of witnessing it directly, dismiss it altogether. We should not be surprised when we encounter such reactions.  Back in the late ’60’s and early 70’s there was an outpouring of the Spirit which became known as the “Jesus movement.” It was a genuine revival which even cultural icons like the Beatles had to acknowledge (which they did in songs like “Let it Be” and “My Sweet Lord”). Yet there were many who dismissed the whole movement. That has been true throughout history.

Peter rises to address the crowd (which we understand is hearing him in their own particular language).  Peter makes the point that the disciples are not drunk since it is only nine o’clock in the morning.  He goes on to quote from the prophet (Joel 2:28-32).  Peter notes that this is the fulfillment of the “last days.”  God’s Spirit is being poured out everywhere.  All of this is preparing us for the return of Jesus Christ which can happen at any moment.  In the meantime, we are sustained by the power of the Spirit.  We live in a world that increasingly ignores the reality of God’s Spirit.  We need to remember there were scoffers and cynics on the first Day of Pentecost.  God’s Spirit continues to be poured out “upon all flesh.”  Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.  This not only encourages us.  It motivates us share Christ more and more in the power of the Spirit.

Eternal and gracious God, pour out your Spirit upon me.  Encourage me and inspire me to live more and more for you.  I pray this in Jesus’ name, Amen.