Acts 2: 1-8
“When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a loud 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 tongues as the spirit enabled them….Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, “What does this mean?…”
Two things from this passage and the sermon on Sunday strike me as both amazing and perplexing:
One of them is that God is able to cross language barriers that His name may be known throughout all nations. On the day of Pentecost, the first church we read about in chapter one gets together in Jerusalem to commemorate the God’s gift of the ten commandments when all of the sudden a giant and powerful gust of wind sweeps into the house. Maybe they thought they were having a tornado or something. Then fire-shaped tongues emerge and rest on each member, filling them with the supernatural power to speak different languages. Jews from every nation under heaven were able to hear about the wonders of God spoken in their own language. Parthians, Medes, Elamites, Mesopotamians, Judeans, Cappadocians, Pontus, Asians, Phrygians, Pamphylians, Egyptions, Libyans, Romans, Cretans and Arabs….both Jews by blood and those who’d converted…all of these people were able to hear about their Creator. And this was made possible because our great God, who speaks all languages, decided to dwell in his people.
How great is our God that he makes his glory known across culture and language! That’s certainly a reason to worship him!
The second thing that really struck me was Andy’s observation and emphasis that “all of them were filled with the Holy Spirit.” Jesus promised to send his Spirit, and Peter promises in verse 38 that those who are baptized for the forgiveness of sins will receive the spirit. Now, I trusted Jesus some time ago, but I have to admit that a small wave of fear flashed over me on Sunday afternoon. Because I’ve never seen anything like what the disciples experience on the day of Pentecost. While I’ve attributed some of my life experiences to the spirit, it’s been a little while since I’d really felt the spirit.
I’ve never seen the spirit in the form of fire, wind or a dove. So do I even have the spirit? I wondered. Last night, I prayed that God would bring clarity to my confusion about this. At some point this morning, I mysteriously felt a heart of gratefulness wash over me. I began to think about all of the people who’ve taken care of me in Korea in various ways, and I wondered how I might express my thanks to them. Ultimately, I felt thankful to God for being my caretaker. I realized that this heart was the manifestation of the Holy Spirit in me.
The Holy Spirit, which took the forms of wind and fire on the day of Pentecost, can take on the form of many things in our lives. The Holy Spirit promotes a heart of thanksgiving. It can take the form of a righteous anger, a patient trust in God, and a passion to share with others. Though I worried He was absent from my heart, I realized that He is everywhere in my life. He tells me when to wait and trust when my instinct is to seize control. He gives me insight into the perspectives of others. The Holy Spirit fosters self-examination, which leads to repentance and prudence. He puts God’s words on my tongue when I least expect it, gives me strength when I feel powerless, and grace when I’m downcast. He gives individuals gifts that they may proclaim the name of Jesus.
One cannot follow Jesus without the Spirit, and everyone with the Spirit follows Christ.