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. (2:2-4)
The Ap0stles waited in Jerusalem as Jesus had instructed them; they were waiting for the Holy Spirit to come upon them. As they waited, the religious authorities were going about their business as usual, thinking that they had gotten rid of that Jesus guy once and for all. Yes, of course there were whispers and rumors about Him, but that sort of foolishness was to be expected from zealots and nutjobs like those who had followed Him.
No sir, it was back to regular business; the ceremonies, customs, traditions and commerce would go on as they always had− the danger had been nailed to a cross.
Yet unbeknownst to the religious authorities, the Holy Spirit had come upon the Apostles, with Power, so much so, in fact, that many thought they were drunk!
“They have had too much wine.” (2:13)
Before the Authorities knew what was happening, the Apostles were out in the Temple area preaching the Word of God in tongues they hadn’t studied, a Word of salvation and redemption for all Mankind, a Word that made them and their traditions utterly obsolete. Peter steps forward and addresses their sobriety issue:
Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd: “Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say. These people are not drunk, as you suppose. It’s only nine in the morning! No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: (2:14-16)
Then he continues to tell the people that the prophecy of Joel was coming to pass before their eyes: I will pour out my Spirit on all people. (2:17a; see Joel 2:28-32) He proclaims the resurrection of Jesus from the grave, and announces to the people that all can be saved by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ− from that point forward, nothing would be the same again for a new Age had dawned that day.
The religious were just a tad befuddled that day, for the response of the people to Peter’s message was too vast for them to deal with at first; thousands followed Jesus right away; they must regroup before taking the steps necessary to keep the old ways intact, but they did regroup, and within a fairly short time, Peter and others were in jail.
As we look back at those tumultuous days, we can see pretty clearly that God was moving His plans forward and the old ways were replaced with that which was entirely new. The history of Israel had shown this pattern before− God would move His plans into a new area, and thigs would be fine for a time, but then customs and traditions would be established, followed by corruption of the message of God, and then a kind of rot from within. God would warn the people and offer then a chance to turn things around. Yet those in authority would always fight Him and eventually God would take the situation in hand, and the cycle would start over.
Solomon told us that there is nothing new under the sun, and he had that right, for the history of the Christian Church has continued the same pattern to this very day.
Next time, let’s see how Paul dealt with his: See you tomorrow!