A crowd gathers, wind blows, tongues of fire appear, people miraculously hear the message of Jesus in their own language, and three thousand are added to their number that day.
One of the surprising things about this story is that the extraordinary, explosive growth of the church on this day is almost a footnote. Only at the end of the account does the author, Luke, mention this detail.
Why is this? It’s not that the numbers don’t matter. The numbers are important, because behind each number is a person, whose life is significant and in Acts 2, whose life has been impacted by Jesus. For Luke, however, it seems that he is more interested in the context, than just the raw numbers.
It’s around 50 days after Jesus was crucified and rose again when the disciples are in Jerusalem to celebrate Pentecost. The city is filled with Jews from all over the world who have come for the festival, when there is a wind from heaven which fills the place where the disciples of Jesus are gathered. Of course, it’s not just wind, it’s a clue that the presence of God, His Spirit was there. To drive the point home, God places tongues of fire above the head of each of those gathered. The wind and the fire are ways in which God had revealed himself to the people in the past, and in this moment, He uses familiar forms to alert them to his presence.
Whilst this is going on, those gathered start to hear the message about Jesus in their own language. Not because those speaking are skilled translators, but rather God has miraculously made this possible.
As the crowd gathers, perhaps intrigued by what is going on, the apostle Peter stood up and spoke.
Up to this point, it has been all God. Peter didn’t control the arrival of the Holy Spirit. He didn’t schedule the timing of the activity of God. He didn’t make it possible for the crowd to hear the message in their own language. He couldn’t control the openness of the crowd. One thing he could do was stand up.
How were three thousand lives so dramatically impacted at Pentecost?
God was at work, and Peter decided to stand up, and dare to believe that he could join God in this moment.
It’s not complicated, but it is courageous.
If God can do this through an ordinary, Galilean fishermen who stands up, could it be that there is more he wants to do through you and me, if only we stand up? The moment God invites you into is not likely to be as dramatic as that described in Acts 2, but keep an eye out for his activity. Have a listening ear that notices when God is doing something unexpected, and be courageous. Step into the moment and see what God can do.