Focal passage: Acts 1:4-8; 2:1-4, 12-16
If there is one thing that our house rarely has in abundance it is silence. My lovely wife Shelley has blessed me with three wonderful children (ages eight, five and two). In addition we have two dogs -— one moose and one miniature breed — as well as five fish. The fish do not seem to add much noise, but we had a previous problem with one that ate everything else we put in the tank with it. There are constant sounds filling the air with the familiar auditory pleasures of life. Quite often these sounds may seem to be nothing more than noise, while at other times they are a joyous melody. It is in those moments that I am able to hear within the hoopla a distinct message and interpret what is underneath; below the “noise” there is love. And in love we find meaning.
In the opening chapter of Acts we see the beginning of the early church, but it is not fully born. It was awaiting something, and Christ appeared to this group of believers that had clung together following the crucifixion. He shared that they were to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit, a baptism far greater than that of water. With this they would become witnesses to all the world. Note that the Greek word for witness and martyr are the same. This draws attention to the fact that sometimes our loyalty to Christ demands more than we are aware will be required.
This little group, led by the disciples, were to be empowered by the Holy Spirit, and it came upon them as a “rushing wind” and they were suddenly filled with “tongues of fire” (Acts 2:3). The amazing event in this miracle is that each person began to speak a different tongue, or language, and they went out among the many Jews that were in Jerusalem for the Festival of the Weeks, also known as Pentecost. This was celebrated seven weeks after Passover and was a time to give thanksgiving for the grain harvest. It was one of three major festivals and was a required time of celebrations. It expected that Jewish males would come to the Temple. Jerusalem was filled with people.
The many people present were mystified; some in a sense of awe, while others mocked the believers as they shared the gospel of Jesus Christ. As it was true for these first Christians, it is true for witnesses today. Our faith is not validated by the response of those listening; it is made real by that which we experience through Jesus Christ and His teachings in the Scriptures.
Some of those present even stated that the Christians were drunk, but Peter rose boldly and spoke in defense of the believers. He spoke boldly without hesitation with the possibility of a large crowd turning against him. I find his words humorous in stating it is too early in the morning to be drunk, but he was direct and to the point. His words exemplify what I see as the greatest miracle of Pentecost concerning the gospel, making things plain, clear, and easily understood so everyone can know what it is all about.
Dear Lord make it so today.