If you ever find yourself doubting how God could use you, or just how powerful he is, then Acts 2 may serve as a timely reminder.
At the end of Acts 1 we see a small band of men and women, including the disciples, sitting in a house awaiting further instruction. Their powerful and charismatic leader, Jesus Christ, had departed them and despite their elation at his past acts, they are relatively inactive. Fair enough, it was via Jesus’ authority that they were enabled to cure and to preach and to heal. No Jesus, no authority – presumably.
Wouldn’t it be terrible if this were so? Wouldn’t it be a shocker if Jesus came for 30-odd years, over two-millennia ago, and then left without anything else to hold on to. We’d be left sitting around telling glory stories of the old days in a manner not dissimilar to that episode of Firefly where the Mudders build a statue of Jayne. Fortunately, we are not left in this situation. Rather, Jesus ascended leaving behind the following promise back in Acts 1:
But you will receive the power when the Holy Spirit has come on you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.
You can imagine that, amongst the discussions of Judas that I explored here, the disciples would also be excited/apprehensive about the role in the power of the Holy Spirit. After all, Judea isn’t a massive problem – they are Judeans and speak the language. Samaria is relatively close and relatively culturally similar (according to my relatively small knowledge base at least) but the ends of the worlds may well present a different beast entirely. There are cultural barriers, not to mention language barriers. “Perhaps he meant figuratively, like we’ll spread the word a really long way” one confused member of the congregation flagged in all likelihood.
Insert the game changer. Insert the afore promised Holy Spirit. God shall no longer be only with you, in the physical form of Jesus: he is now in you, via the spiritual form of the Holy Spirit. Pretty neat stuff.
Juxtapose the flurry of action that immediately follows the arrival of the flame-like spirit. The disciples, “filled with the Holy Spirit” begin to speak in different languages. Further, they stir a crowd into a hubbub as all hear the news of God in their own tongue. Perhaps the emotion and commotion of the event overtook them as some overlookers accused them of being drunk. Fair call, I can imagine being pretty giddy with glee should that happen to me.
What a difference the Spirit makes! This is the very same Spirit that is poured out “on all humanity” during which:
Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved
Compare the differences in the rhetorical flourishes of Peter both pre-Spirit (whilst he explains the inevitability of Judas) to his extensive arguments in front of the vast audience. I don’t know about you, but to me he sounds like two different speakers.
Finally we see the fruits of the Spirit. 3,000 people turn to Jesus that day and are converted. Magic stuff! Further, we see the most delightful image of the early church sharing almost every facet of their lives together. I wish I had more energy to write further on this, as it really convicted me. Perhaps at a later date.