Pentecost was the Jewish celebration of the wheat harvest. It was also used an an occasion particularly to celebrate God’s gift of His Law to His people. What takes place this Pentecost established that the Gospel of God would go out to all nations, and would signal the in-gathering of a harvest of men and women to God through faith in Christ. This is what the prophets foretold.
It sounds and looks very strange. The disciples are met with the sound of rushing wind, and the fire rested on each of them (vv.1-3). Nor could they stay in silent astonishment: their mouths were opened to speak God’s praises in languages which were totally new to them (v.4). In that moment, the Spirit’s work in coming upon them was clear: they were being set apart and empowered for mission, a mission which was to take them, as their Master had said, right to the ends of the earth (1.8).
All who hear and see are staggered. This isn’t a case of early morning alcohol, since that doesn’t give the instant gift of foreign languages. They hear the wonders of God, but are lost for the reasons for this astonishing event (vv.5-13). They don’t have to wait for their answer. The once-disowning but now-restored Peter speaks up, and what he gives is an incredible sermon, rich in Spirit-given insight into God’s Word and plan. This is the essence of his words:
God is doing a new thing, just as Joel foretold (vv.17-21). God’s Spirit is given to all, that they might know the Lord, and realise that in the uplifting of His Son, God is declaring a new era (as signified by the talk of sun and moon). This is the era of salvation.
God’s salvation is offered to all in Jesus (vv.22-36). He is the One put to death, in a mysterious and foreordained working of God’s purposes, which were fulfilled through human sin. And this Saviour was raised to life, as David was given foresight of. Vital as he was in God’s plan, David was not central, but witnessed to His Lord, Jesus, now enthroned as the Christ.
God is calling all men to be saved (vv.37-41). Peter’s words are sent home by the Spirit of God. His hearers long to know forgiveness for their sins. And three thousand make their response to God’s grace. A once-despised Jesus is now seen to be the hope of all who believe. And this truth shall never change.
This diverse crowd of people, who gathered for a familiar festival, are now being forged into a new community of believers. Read vv.42-47 once more: the Word, Prayer, Radical generosity, Joy, Growth, Outreach – all are timeless marks of the true Christian church. This is the life the Spirit brings, and it’s all discovered in Jesus. What a promise we have.
A Prayer to Pray
Dear Lord Jesus, exalted Lord and Saviour of all who believe, my heart is filled with joy to hear again this account of Your Spirit’s coming. I long to know His life more and more in me. Bring me close, to repent of my sin, and to see the life of the people of God. As the old hymn asks, “teach me Your way, Lord.” Amen.