ACTS CHAPTER 2 – “HEAVEN’S BIG SURPRISE”
People have staged surprise birthday parties for me in the past, and I usually figured out their secret plans. But last year some friends organized a party without my knowing, and when I walked into the room I was totally shocked. There were banners, balloons, songs, a cake and 30 people—and I didn’t see any of it coming! This must be how it felt to be one of the disciples on the day of Pentecost.
The key word is “suddenly” (v. 2). Jesus told His followers they would be baptized in the Holy Spirit, but He gave them no clues about when or how. While they were gathered together they heard the sound of wind, they saw flames of fire, and they all began to speak in languages they didn’t know. And the holy commotion attracted a huge international crowd. After Peter preached his sermon, heavy conviction fell on the audience—and 3,000 people decided to believe in Jesus.
Don’t overlook the supernatural element of this special day. Heaven literally came down. Human beings cannot manufacture Pentecost. The disciples needed heavenly power to do an impossible task. The same is true today. We cannot reach the world for Christ with human ability. Notice the Holy Spirit “filled” the room (v. 2) and “filled” the disciples (v. 4). The church cannot do its job if we are filled with ourselves; we must be empty and surrendered so God can work.
We often focus on the sensational aspects of Pentecost. We love the fireworks. But notice that after the supernatural flames appeared, Peter stood and spoke with great confidence about Jesus. He used the Scriptures to prove that Jesus is the Messiah. Peter said: “God has made Him both Lord and Christ—this Jesus whom you crucified” (v. 36). Peter was not just speaking eloquent words—his message produced eternal results because of the Spirit’s power.
The miracles of wind, fire and speaking in tongues were important. But the biggest miracle occurred when a man who had denied Jesus three times a few weeks prior now preached a bold sermon. Peter didn’t stay in the upper room and enjoy the flame as it danced on his head. He “raised his voice” (v. 14) and bravely defended his faith. This is a lesson for us all. God didn’t give the Spirit’s power to us so we would admire the miracles. You may speak in tongues, and you may bask in the wind and the fire, but if you don’t use the Spirit’s power to reach lost souls you have cheapened the definition of a Pentecostal.
THINK ABOUT IT:
** The people who heard Peter’s sermon were from 16 regions of the ancient world. Because God loves people from all nations, He timed the moment of Pentecost so that these foreign visitors would be in Jerusalem. Are you aware of what international visitors live in your city? How can God use you to reach them?
** In Peter’s sermon, he quoted the prophet Joel to say that the Holy Spirit will empower men and women, old and young, Jew and Gentile, and even male and female slaves (v. 17-18). How was this revolutionary from the views of traditional Jews in those times?
** When Peter preached, he urged the people to “repent” (v. 38) and “be saved from this perverse generation” (v. 40). He also mentioned “forgiveness of your sins” (v. 38). Those words seem politically incorrect today. How have we watered down the message of the gospel?
** Pentecost happened at the time of the Jewish feast of Shavout, also known as the Feast of Weeks. It was when Jews celebrated the incoming wheat harvest. Obviously there was a “harvest of souls” on the first Pentecost. What would a harvest of souls look like in your city or nation? Are you praying for this?
LET’S PRAY ABOUT IT:
Lord, send Your wind and Your fire. I want the true power Pentecost in my life. I know I cannot be filled with Your Spirit if I’m full of myself. I choose to empty my life of all distractions, personal agendas, unholy desires and unconfessed sin. Burn up the dross and purify my heart so I can be a vessel of Your Spirit. And send a fresh fire to Your church globally!
By J. Lee Grady © 2020.