Acts 2 has been one of my favorite chapters in the Bible for a long time. As a pastor, it is my “go to” chapter. It has everything I point to when challenging our congregation and my own pastoral leadership. The apostles are gathered and waiting for the Holy Spirit (presumably in fellowship and prayer). Peter preaches a Christ-centered sermon. And, it describes the communal life of the first Christian congregation. Add to that the salvation of some Pharisees and you have a gripping start to the church’s unfolding narrative.
At the conclusion of chapter 1, the apostles are waiting on the promised Holy Spirit. The tension is think as their anticipation mounts. What will it be like when the Spirit arrives? How will the Spirit affect their lives? What will the “power” be like? How will they be witnesses? How will it all play out?
Luke doesn’t make us wait long. In verse 2:2 he writes, “And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting.” Wow! Talk about a dramatic scene.
The Holy Spirit arrived and there was no question that He was there. The result of His presence among the apostles was no less dramatic. “And they were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.” Take a moment to imagine that scene. What a spectacle!
These utterances had a purpose too. Their purpose was to testify to the reality of Jesus Christ in a way that people could understand the gospel message. It’s that simple. God had providentially chosen to communicate his message of grace and mercy through the apostles as they were led and empowered by the Holy Spirit. The apostles would be “powerful witnesses” for the purpose of communicating God’s message to people. That’s what the Holy Spirit does. He testifies to Christ.
Peter not only received the gift of a tongue to be communicate Christ’s message, he received boldness. Can you believe that Peter, the man who denied Jesus three times, stood before a multitude and proclaimed Christ by explaining the prophecy of Joel and the Psalms? Can you believe that he spoke so directly and boldly to the crowd? I can’t. But, he did it. Why? Holy Spirit boldness.
I love the way Luke describes the communal life of the first Christian congregation. Isn’t it a beautiful description of what must have been a sweet communion? They loved Jesus and each other. They spent time together. They hung out in each other’s homes. They shared their belongings. They met each other’s needs. They prayed together. They worshipped together. They studied together. Simply put, they just did life together. And, they did this life on a mission. (We’ll talk a lot about this mission in the coming chapters.)
Wouldn’t it be great if we were a part of a congregation that modeled that first one? Wouldn’t you love to be a member of something like that? What can you do to help make it a reality?
Finally, I do not want us to fall into the temptation of romanticizing this congregation. They weren’t perfect. They had issues. Some of them came out of self-righteous Jewish backgrounds. Others came from licentious pasts, and even paganism. Yet, they came together to share the common life that they had in Christ. Could it be that the struggles of their varied backgrounds were the things that made their common bond in Christ so strong?
Let me challenge you to be realistic about your struggles. Share them with others. Make yourself available for others to share their struggles with you. And, then cement yourself in the life we have in Christ.