The Coming of the Holy Spirit
When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. 2And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. 3Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. 4All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability.
5 Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven living in Jerusalem. 6And at this sound the crowd gathered and was bewildered, because each one heard them speaking in the native language of each. 7Amazed and astonished, they asked, ‘Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? 8And how is it that we hear, each of us, in our own native language? 9Parthians, Medes, Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, 11Cretans and Arabs—in our own languages we hear them speaking about God’s deeds of power.’ 12All were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, ‘What does this mean?’ 13But others sneered and said, ‘They are filled with new wine.’
They had waited – sometimes, like children and Christmas, what we wait for never seems to come; other times, like – as we get older, what we wait for seems to be on us and past before we can blink! And for the little group gathered together in the Upper Room, the waiting was over. I suspect that on that morning they were doing what they had been doing as they waited; they were meeting together, and they were praying.
And suddenly, it happened – it was dramatic and life changing for them and for the world! It began with a sound, a roar, like a mighty wind, a hurricane, blowing through! The sound filled the whole house – and then they saw something unexplainable. It was not fire, not hot or damaging, but it looked something like fire – like tongues of flame – that divided and stood above each person’s head. Even our best movie special effects guys today would have trouble showing us exactly what that looked like! But we can know that it was dramatic and life-changing.
And then, each one of them, all 120, began to talk – and they spoke in languages they did not know. And Jews who had come to Jerusalem from all around the world for the feast of Pentecost heard their words in their own languages. This was very different from what we speak of today as a “gift of tongues”; in that gift no one understands what the gifted person says, except possibly someone with a gift of interpretation. But on Pentecost, every word was understood by someone in the crowd below. The miracle was not only in the speaking; it was also in the hearing and understanding. How can this be? the listeners asked. Are not these people from Galilee? How can they speak in our languages? How is it that I hear one language and the person next to me another?
Those who were speaking were praising God and telling about his power. The hearers were puzzled. But some thought the cacophony was simply because they were drunk.
the picture is the building on the site of the Upper Room today.