Lent 2023 Day 9: Fri 3 Mar
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.
Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard their own language being spoken. Utterly amazed, they asked: ‘Aren’t all these who are speaking Galileans? Then how is it that each of us hears them in our native language? Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome (both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs – we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!’ Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, ‘What does this mean?’
Some, however, made fun of them and said, ‘They have had too much wine.’
The day of Pentecost was an annual event for the Jews, and many would come to Jerusalem for the festival, a celebration of the wheat harvest and a time to remember God’s provision. It was a harvest festival, but Pentecost and Harvest Festivals have turned into separate events for us.
What better time than a festival, with Jews from all around the known world coming to Jerusalem, each with their own local language, and converts with their own ethnic identity, for the Holy Spirit to be poured out on the gathered disciples! The first effect of their receiving God’s Holy Spirit was speaking out with words that to them did not make much sense! I will continue to repeat that this was not the Holy Spirit controlling their tongues, but a joyful release of praise from those who had been filled with the gift.
Those in the household (think of a house with holes for windows) had no idea that people outside were picking up words that they understood. Had I been a visitor from Libya on that day I’d most likely have arrived in a party of Jews from the region, and I’d have stuck with my language group. I may have been able to communicate in broken Hebrew with other Jews, but I’d stay mostly with my own language group.
To hear someone shouting out high praise of God in my own language, and to realise that the other voices coming from that place were surprising Jews from other language groups, too, must have been quite shocking. How did the people in that house know so many languages, and how were they able to speak so beautifully about the wonders of God? People were asking what this all meant.
I imagine that the ones who thought this was all a nonsense were those who spoke the local language of Jerusalem – there’d be no surprise for them to hear “normal” language. Surely this lot making this babble are drunk?!
Something amazing has happened in the centre of the Jewish nation, and someone is needed to come and explain what’s just happened. Who is going to address the nation?
Do you feel that those who speak in tongues are just showing off?
Does your church fellowship make space for individuals to proclaim of the wonders of God?
How long do you think the speaking in tongues at this event in Jerusalem went on for?
Father God, something amazing started on that day, and was repeated again and again in the story of Acts. Would you touch my heart with a longing to break out in worship and praise, and answer that longing with your Holy Spirit? Amen.