When a visitor arrives that you have never seen before or seen a long time ago, you are thrilled, with hugging, tears, laughter and happiness. The Visitor that arrived on the Day of Pentecost was no ordinary one. He, the Holy Spirit was the Lord Jesus’ Gift to the apostles, send by God the Father. More … He would be everything that was promised plus much more.
1) The realization of Acts 1:8 happened!
Ac 2:4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.
Remember Jesus said:
Ac 1:8 “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
Acts 2:4 is the reality of Acts 1:8. Power … the ability to be Jesus’ witnesses to the world by being able to speak in “other tongues”. This concept in the Greek means the supernatural ability to speak in other known languages without having learnt that or those language(s). What this was is the reversal of what happened at Babel in Genesis 11 where because of pride, arrogance and the rejection of God, He confused their languages. This forced them to spread into all the world. Now, “people from every nation under heaven were present in Jerusalem and heard God’s Word in their own language … leading to many being saved and incorporated into one Kingdom as one people.
2) The reality of the Jewish Pentecost.
Ac 2:5 Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven.
Not only had Jews migrated and immigrated to other lands for various reasons, some were employed by the Roman Empire. These Jews and those who were converted from paganism to Judaism found themselves in Jerusalem for Pentecost. Verses 7-10 gives us an idea of the spread of peoples, nations, languages present on the occasion.
Ac 2:7 Utterly amazed, they asked: “Are not all these men who are speaking Galileans? 8 Then how is it that each of us hears them in his own native language? 9 Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome 11 (both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs.”
These people had gathered together to celebrate the Feast of Thanksgiving for the first fruits.
3) The reality of the first Christian Pentecost. This was an event unlike anything ever known in human history before. It was phenomenal.
Ac 2:6 When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard them speaking in his own language.
This is a snap shot of what happened. The word “bewilderment” means “confused” in the sense of being disturbed. Again for the sake of getting a good handle on who were present … please read again …
Ac 2:7 Utterly amazed, they asked: “Are not all these men who are speaking Galileans? 8 Then how is it that each of us hears them in his own native language? 9 Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome 11 (both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs—we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!”
The bewilderment was …
(1) Everyone from all these nations and peoples groups heard what was spoken in their own language. The apostles were from Galilee. Their language was Greek, Arabic and some Hebrew … yet people from all the known world heard them speaking in their own language.
(2) What did they hear? They heard the wonders of God … the glorious Gospel … in their own language … and they understood the Gospel Message. This is crucial even today. People might be able to speak English, Afrikaans, Sotho, Pedi, Shangaan, Zulu or Xhosa … but are they able to understand the Gospel’s intricate details and requirements (the wonders of God) if it is not heard in their mother tongue?
(3) More spectacular was the fact that these apostles had never learnt the languages they spoke in! This is nothing less than the power of God coming upon these men enabling them to be God’s servants in sharing the Gospel Message “word perfect” so that the hearers understood the message.
4) The reality of the lack of understanding.
Ac 2:12 Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, “What does this mean?”
Although they heard the message accurately, their distress was that they as hearers could not understand why this was happening. They were Jews and proselytes (converted to Judaism). This was one of the main festivals held in Jerusalem. They had travelled long distances, spent much money and were filled with anticipation because of being in the City of David, able to attend the temple, see the sacrifices, be taught by the best Rabbis, hear the High Priest, offering their first fruits and celebrate God’s grace in the continuous giving of new life (first fruits) … and now they hear about Jesus and are told He is the last High Priest, the final sin offering and in Him alone is the forgiveness of sin and salvation. We can understand their “amazement and perplexity”. They were confused as the majority of them were not locals. What happened here needs to be interpreted by Peter’s Pentecostal Preaching from verse 14 to 36. We will be there soon.
5) The reality of cruel misinterpretation.
Ac 2:13 Some, however, made fun of them and said, “They have had too much wine.”
It was so then and it is so today. The evil one uses his devilish agents to mock the Gospel and the King of the Kingdom. This is not based upon jealousy alone. Rather, the devil hates God and wants to bring scorn upon Him and His Cause by using wicked people to give the impression that what they say is right. This may be said because … “some … made fun of them” … that is, of the apostles. They went as far as to say they “had too much wine”. In other words, they were saying the apostles were drunk and speaking gobbled goo. Often people attend a marriage service, funeral or baptismal service in an Evangelical Church where they hear the Gospel and afterwards speak as though the preacher is a raving fanatical religious freak. Listen to Peter’s response
Ac 2:15 “These men are not drunk, as you suppose. It’s only nine in the morning!”
Real Gospel Preachers are not crazy either. They, like these apostles are serving God, pointing the way to life so that people might be persuaded and through repentance and faith know Jesus, enjoying His Gospel that has transformed them.
Father, may we never be cruel towards the Gospel. Amen.