Bible Background: Acts 2 tells the story of how a Jewish harvest festival provided the setting for the Holy Spirit to appear in force. (Pentecost=50th day.)The original gathering is of Jews from every nation on earth. The Spirit will propel the apostles and the Good News out into the world!
Digging Deeper: 1. In Acts chapter 1, Luke recounts Jesus’ last instructions to his disciples, along with his ascension into heaven. “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth!”
2. The Holy Spirit shows up in “the rush of a violent wind” and as “tongues of fire” resting on each of them. “All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability.” Certainly this gets everyone’s attention! The ability to speak in other languages will be a miraculous and useful gift as they do move out into the wider world as witnesses.
3. Then Luke lists the (hard to pronounce) places where members of the crowds come from. It’s a fairly inclusive list. “All were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another ‘what does this mean?'” (A good, Lutheran question!) Some ‘sneer’ and accuse the disciples of hitting the bottle before 9 in the morning!
4. Acts 2:14f is where Peter takes to the podium, and sees the promise of Joel 2 being fulfilled. People can see and hear for themselves, that God has indeed poured out God’s Spirit on ALL people!
5. What does this mean? is still THE question for us and for the church today! What does this mean that we are filled with the Holy Spirit? What does it mean that young and old, women and girls, men and boys, mighty and humble, are ALL filled with the Spirit? Part of what that means is made clear in 1 Corinthians 12, where Paul reminds us “To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the good of all.” How do we help others discover the ‘gifts’ the Spirit has given them? How do we let others help us see our own gifts and abilities? What do we do with these talents?
6. One way to think of the presence of the Holy Spirit is to think of the Spirit as near to us as the air we breathe! The Spirit breathes new life into us, with every breath!