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. (verses 1-4)
Acts 2 is a chapter alive – indeed vibrating – with the presence and power of the Holy Spirit. This is the moment to which the Old Testament prophets had breathlessly looked ahead, the day when the Spirit would be liberally poured out on all God’s people, men and women, young and old, slave and free.
Lest the gathered believers miss it, the Spirit’s coming is dramatic and unmistakable. The roar of a mighty rushing wind reverberates through the room in which they are gathered. Startled, looking up from their prayers, they see flames of fire dancing on each head. In that moment they feel themselves filled to overflowing with the very presence of Almighty God himself. Their tongues are loosed to pour out high praise in languages they have never learned. Caught up in the joy and vitality of the very Spirit of God, they are alive with his presence, empowered by his gifting, and joyfully united in heartfelt declarations of praise.
This, in fact, is the moment Jesus had foretold, telling his disciples to wait in Jerusalem until they had been “clothed with power from on high” (Luke 24:49). This is what he’d reiterated before his Ascension, telling them, “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you” (Acts 1:8). This is what he’d meant when he’d said he would send them, empowered, to be his witnesses, from Jerusalem all the way outward to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8). This is the outpouring he’d promised on the night before the cross, saying he would not leave them as orphans, but would come to them, that the Spirit himself would not only be with them, but actually take up residence within them (John 14:17-18). This is what he had in mind when, fully alive on that first Resurrection evening, he’d breathed on them and said, “Receive.”
Now, the moment is here. The breath has come. The wind of God has blown, gale-force upon them, entering their very being, capturing mind and soul and spirit with his presence. Voices are unleashed. Praise sounds forth. Languages, unlearned, fill the space surrounding them.
Power and presence are experienced by these disciples. Just as Jesus had foretold, witness will shortly spill forth onto startled ears, in Jerusalem first, but then already stretching to touch the far corners of earth as visitors from every nation have gathered for this Feast of Pentecost.
These verses recount a powerful slice of history. We watch in amazement. But equally they paint a dynamic picture of the church’s ongoing birthright and calling. The Spirit is given. Our witness is alive.
May we never step back from the divine explosion of Pentecost.
Father, thank you for the gift of your Holy Spirit. Lord Jesus, thank you for fulfilling your promise. Holy Spirit, you are welcome into the whole of my being. May I know your presence more deeply. Fill me with your power more fully. Use me in your purposes more completely. To the glory of Father and Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.
Breathe: As an exercise of awareness today, let the simple act of breathing-in remind you of the Holy Spirit’s gracious infilling. As you breath, receive afresh. Give thanks.