And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak
in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance. Acts 2:4
The Day of Pentecost
The apostles had gathered themselves in Jerusalem to wait and pray. They were a bedraggled group — an odd assortment of unimpressive, unemployed out-of-towners. Suddenly, a sound like the rushing of a great wind filled the whole house where they were staying. Tongues of fire appeared on them. The Holy Spirit came upon them in power and strength, filling each of them, and they all began to speak in other languages.
What an amazing scene! With the wind, audible but unseen, came the Spirit’s creative breath of life (cf. John 3:8). With the many tongues of fire was the one fire of the Spirit’s presence — the presence that warms cold hearts and burns away the deadness of doubt and unbelief. The miraculous ability to speak in different tongues equipped the apostles for communicating with the visitors staying in Jerusalem for the Pentecost festival.
The strange events drew a crowd. The Spirit sent the apostles out preaching and witnessing—proclaiming the wonders of God. The audience was bewildered by the message and the messengers. How could simple Galileans speak such things? Some in the crowd scorned and ridiculed the apostles. Were they deluded? Drunk? But others were amazed at what they heard, wondering what all this meant.
On Pentecost, the apostles were human instruments of the Holy Spirit. Ordinary people, filled with no ordinary Spirit, they became extraordinary witnesses — courageous proclaimers of the Gospel. Under the Spirit’s guidance, Galilean fishermen, a former tax collector, and the others — flawed instruments all — now announced the great saving work of God in Jesus Christ. And impetuous Peter — the one who had denied Jesus, who had forsaken Him and hid in fear — stepped forward as the bold spokesman of the Holy Spirit.
What did the Spirit accomplish on Pentecost? Through the apostles’ preaching and Baptism, He called and gathered believers into the Church of Christ. He gave them the Christ-earned forgiveness of sins and salvation. He established Christ’s kingdom, made manifest through the Gospel for all the world. As Luther proclaimed in his 1534 Pentecost sermon: “Thus Christianity begins with the poor fisherman, and with the despised work of God, which is called Christ, hanging on the cross.”
Source: Lutheran Witness, May 2, 2008, Feature Section