[Ed: Day 2 – the day we often get started and into everything, it’s all business today. Strands are into the swing of things and we’re digging deeper into the Word. The bookstall is now finally open as well – so for those coming on Wednesday night I’ll see you there and hopefully encourage you with some great reading for 2023!)
Acts 2:14-41 | “These people are not drunk…” | Tim Omrod
Famous First Lines
A long time ago Tim studied journalism and politics, hoping to get into that. One of the first things they teach you about communication and journalism is that opening lines really matter.
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.”
“That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”
“”It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.”
These great lines from famous speeches and works of writing. But compare that to Peter’s opening line: “These people are not drunk…” and then follows that up with ‘It’s only the third hour!’ (ie 9am). Clearly Peter has never been to schoolies week!
“When the day of Pentecost arrived.” (v1-13)
In the opening verses (1-4) we have sensory overload. The holy spirit descends with a big rush of wind. It’s significant here that it sounds like wind because wind and ‘Spirit’ usually comes together. The word for ‘Spirit’ in Greek and Hebrew could also be translated as ‘wind’.
Jesus compares the spirit to wind in John 3 with Nicodemus. You can’t see the wind, but you can see it’s effects.
When the spirit comes upon the disciples they hear the wind. They also see tongues of fire, resting on each of them.
If wind is fitting for the spirit, fire and the presence of God are also connected. Mt Sinai, burning bush, Elijah’s altar.
The final thing we see in the text is that they hear, they see, and they speak. They speak tongues – different languages that are not their own. Not taught to them, but languages they could understand. Pentecost was a festival for lots of different people in Jerusalem – and now the disciples come in and start speaking their languages. The people are then bewildered, because they can hear the gospel in their own languages (v12). It’s an extraordinary moment.
Question: is this experience in Acts 2 normative for us today? Do we expect to speak in tongues – and also hear a rushing wind and see tongues of fire? No. While we do not deny that God can do this, but the purpose of this chapter isn’t to give us a template what every Christian should expect the work of the Spirit to be like in their lives. For two reasons:
- It misunderstands the purpose and context of the chapter – we’re seeing a transition between the old covenant and new covenant. So the point of the tongue speaking and fire and wind is to show us that this is a unique moment.
- The tongues here in Acts 2 is not angelic tongues – but languages of other people groups, especially those represented in Jerusalem at the time. Their purpose isn’t to confirm the presence of the Spirit, it’s to help people hear about Jesus.
Having heard the disciples speaking the crowd is perplexed – they think everyone is drunk, filled with new wine.
“Peter lifted his voice” (v14-36)
V14, v22, v29
Each point is introduced with the same word here in Peter’s sermon. Repetition is a bible reading tip – if you see repetition it’s happening for a reason.
The word is ‘men’ (Greek: andres) – v14, v22, and v29 start with this word.
Joel 2, Psalm 16, & Psalm 110
In each section of this sermon Peter goes back to the Old Testament.
First part, v14ff, he quotes Joel 2 – the prophet looking forward to the last days. Not going to pour out his spirit on some, but on all flesh. And this period is going to pre-empt a great and final day of judgement. The last days are a time of salvation before a great day of judgement.
Thus v21 everyone who calls on the name of Jesus will be saved.
Second part, v22ff, he quotes from David in Psalm 16 – a psalm pleading with God to spare him from death, confident that because David is God’s king God would, and could, rescue him.
Third part, v29ff, he quotes David from Psalm 110. A prayer of victory and triumph which looks forward to a promised King, greater than David, who God would exalt as lord over all.
Peer then says that Jesus is greater than David, the Lord spoken of that David pays homage to.
Jesus & the ‘last days’
What Peter is helping us understand is that we are living in the last days – and what they are seeing in the disciples is the beginning of that.
When 9/11 hit, after the first plane hit the first tower, there was mass confusion. Over the PA system as people were leaving the second building was an announcement that everything was safe and you could return back to work. So some people were running down and some were running up, back to the office. They did that because they had no idea the moment they were living in.
The wind, the fire, the tongues – are all signs of the times we are living in. Jesus is then calling us to understand the times we are living in.
“Brothers, what shall we do?” (v37-41)
Do we know what time it is? The last few years have been crazy in our world – distraction after distraction. Global pandemics, natural disasters. Financial crisis, me too, BLM, tiktok… what about all the personal stuff that’s going on in our lives that sucks our attention away from the big picture that’s going on in our world.
It’s easy to lose sight of the big picture – we’re living in the last days. Now is the time Jesus is pouring out his Spirit to call people back to himself.
So, what should we do now? Thankfully the people listening to Peter had the same question.
V37 – they asked, ‘What shall we do?
- V38 – repent – a complicated word for a simple idea, to turn around. You’re going one way, to repent is to go another way. Repent when it comes to Jesus. The Jews had rejected and crucified Jesus. Peter is saying: turn around – recognise who he is, turn back to him and call on his name and be saved before it’s too late
- Be baptised – lots of controversy about the nitty gritty of baptism, and there is a place for that – the key is not the ritual but what it points to. Baptism points to faith in Jesus. He’s not just saying go get dunked in water, he’s saying have faith.
- Receive the Holy Spirit – as they turn back to Jesus, he graciously pours out his Spirit that we might be united to him in his death and resurrection.
This is how we respond when we know that these are the last days.
Do our present lives have an urgency about living in the last days – or are we so easily distracted? Don’t settle for a distracted life as a follower of Jesus. Don’t sell the last days short. So lived each day here as if it’s your last day before Jesus returns. Reset the time piece of your life so your life is in sync with God’s time.
These people are not drunk, they are the most sober people who ever lived – because they understand who Jesus is and the time they are living in.
[Ed: there are great first lines, and there are great final lines. And that final line is great! Wonderful reminder of the times we live in and how Jesus is the best news everyone needs to hear.]
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