When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. 2 And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. 4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.
Before Jesus ascended to the Father, He instructed His followers to wait in Jerusalem for the Holy Spirit to come upon them and empower them to be witnesses to Him. (Acts 1:4&8) This promise was fulfilled when the Holy Spirit came upon the disciples during the Jewish feast of Shavuot (Pentecost) which commemorates Moses’ encounter with God and the giving of the Law at Mount Horeb.
At the time, Jews from all over the Middle East and the Mediterranean region were gathered in Jerusalem to celebrate this feast. During the feast, the focus of these worshippers would have been on past the acts of God, which marked the beginning of their national and religious identity. Yet thensomething new and unexpected happened: God poured out His Spirit on a group of simple people from provincial Galilee and they began to declare God’s wonderful works. And the most amazing thing is that all of the bystanders hear these people speak in their respective language. Once again God was revealing Himself to His people in power and glory. This time, however, not to give a Law written in stone, but to transform their lives by the power of His Spirit from the inside out. The people who witnessed this were perplexed and asked, “Whatever could this mean?”
Immediately Peter took the opportunity to address the crowd. Beginning at the Old Testament prophets, he explained to them what was taking place. Jesus, who had been rejected and killed by His own people, had risen. Through His death on the cross, He had established a new covenant – not as in that day when God led them out of Egypt to Mount Horeb, where Moses had to communicate with Him on their behalf. This time He would write His laws in their hearts. He wouldcleanse them from their sins by His blood and every one of them would know Him as their God. (Jeremiah 31:32-33)
It is no coincidence that God chose the day of Pentecost to pour out His Spirit. The people who had gathered in Jerusalem had come to observe the feast and reflect on the acts of God in the days of Moses. They would have been familiar with the story of Moses’ encounter with God on the mountain. They would have heard about the awesomeness of God’s presence accompanied by thunder and lightning and smoke, as He spoke to them. They would also have known the prophecies that predicted a coming era of God’s glory and power manifested through signs and wonders (Joel 2). However, in their own daily lives, they would have experienced little of God’s power. No wonder that many of them were receptive to Peter’s message and asked, “What shall we do?” (Acts 2:37). Peter responded by telling them to turn to Jesus and be baptised, and they too would receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. This promise was to them, to their children, and to as many as God would call to Himself. (v.38)
God has called us. He has revealed to us the truth of His Son. Jesus came to die for us so we could be forgiven and have new life. We know the story of Jesus and we understand His reason for dying from the New Testament scriptures. We believe that He rose from the dead to give us new life. But do we experience the life that God has prepared for us? Even as Christians today, we can read and hear stories of past revival, yet lack a true experience of God’s life-transforming power in our daily lives. God’s desire is that we should know Him, and that we should experience His presence, His power, and His miracles every day of our lives. He wants us to hear His voice and be led by Him, rather than be shoved about by the circumstances around us. By the power of His Spirit, God wants to make us world changers. He has called us to be His witnesses and lead others into His presence. Let us seek Him, as the disciples sought Him. Let us put all worldly desires and ambitions aside and wait on Him in prayer, as they did. Let us expect His promise to be fulfilled in our lives. In our own ability and strength we can do nothing worthwhile, but by the power of His Spirit, we can change the world.