When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. 2 Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. 4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.
5 Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. 6 When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard them speaking in his own language. 7 Utterly amazed, they asked: “Are not all these men who are speaking Galileans? 8 Then how is it that each of us hears them in his own native language? 9 Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome 11 (both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs—we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!” 12 Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, “What does this mean?”
13 Some, however, made fun of them and said, “They have had too much wine.”
14 Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd: “Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say. 15 These men are not drunk, as you suppose. It’s only nine in the morning! 16 No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel:
17“ ‘In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams. 18 Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy. 19 I will show wonders in the heaven above and signs on the earth below, blood and fire and billows of smoke. 20 The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord. 21 And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’
A lot of people try many different ways to get famous. Some people will go to extraordinary lengths to get this fame, spending their whole lives in music, movies or sports to try to get it, but it seems like recent history has shown that getting that fame is actually pretty simple. Make a bold prediction and tell as many people as possible. We saw this method attempted a few years ago, when Harold Camping, a man on a Christian radio station in California, told everyone who would listen when the world would end, May 21, 2011 6PM Eastern time. Well, that time and date came and went because God told us that no one knows the day or the hour that the end of the world will be, but that prediction did accomplish one thing, and that was, giving Harold Camping his 15 minutes of fame. So many people listened to his prediction and many people actually believed it because it seems that people have a fascination with predictions. Just think of the amount of attention that goes along with famous predictions. Lots of people still read the writings of people like Nostradamus, who made hundreds of predictions about all sorts of different things. But also people like predictions on a smaller scale too. Joe Namath, who was a talented quarterback in the NFL, is probably most famous for his prediction that his team would win the Super Bowl even though they were underdogs and it came true. The same is true for Babe Ruth, maybe the greatest baseball player ever. It seems like his most famous attribute is that according to legend one time he pointed to center field with his bat predicting that he hit a home run there. And although there may only be some grainy footage to corroborate that story that may or may not even be the game that Babe Ruth is famous for, people want to believe it, because people love a prediction. People love prophesies about the future.
But for every prediction that may have come true like Joe Namath’s or Babe Ruth’s, there’s probably a hundred Harold Campings who have made predictions only to have them not come true. The only one with a 100% success rate when it comes to prophecies is our perfect God in heaven. It never ceases to amaze me when I read the Old Testament to see all the different prophecies that God made and how specific some of them are. Like when he prophesied who would free the Israelites from captivity by giving the actual name of the king who would free them before he was even born, that’s pretty amazing. And then when it comes to the prophecies about the Savior, there were many, many predictions and each one of them came true.
Imagine the excitement of being there when one of those prophecies from God actually came true. Multiply the excitement of seeing someone predict their own home run times a thousand and that might come close to the feeling of remembering a prophecy that had been around for hundreds, if not thousands of years, and then you being one of the people actually getting to see that take place. Thinking about all the generations, your parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, and even farther removed relatives, who had been waiting for one of those prophecies to come true. And now it was you, just by chance who would be able to see it with your own eyes. What an exciting privilege that would be.
And yet it wasn’t really treated that way. When the people saw Jesus fulfilling the prophecies of God, more often than not he was rejected by the leaders of the church and sometimes even his own disciples. Even though they saw Jesus perform miracles, even though they saw him raise the dead back to life, and heal the sick and feed thousands of people with small amounts of food, they didn’t fully understand. They didn’t get it that if Jesus fulfilled those prophecies, it meant that he would fulfill all the rest too, including those that meant Jesus would have to die. The disciples’ eyes just weren’t open to the fulfillment of the prophecies that they saw with their own eyes. As they watched Jesus die on the cross, willingly, for the sins of the world, they didn’t realize that Jesus was fulfilling God’s very first prophecy, that Jesus was crushing the devil’s head and saving the world from their sins. They didn’t appreciate this greatest prophecy being fulfilled.
But then a few days later they did. Once they saw this same Jesus who they watched die, living again, walking, talking, eating, really living again, then it became clear. Then they realized that they were watching a prophecy come true. On that Easter Sunday, when Jesus walked down a road with two disciples on the way to Emmaus, as Jesus explained how every prophecy of the Savior was fulfilled in Jesus. When they realized who Jesus was and what he was done, the only way they could describe their reaction was that their hearts were burning within them. They were talking with their Savior. They got to be the ones who saw these prophecies fulfilled. And know that changed them all for the rest of their lives.
You could see this realization was still on their minds on the day of Pentecost, that we celebrate today. Their eyes were opened. They were declaring the wonders of God, which they now understood, in every language. They had to tell all people from every nation, that Jesus was their Savior too. But here’s how much their eyes were opened. They didn’t just see that Jesus fulfilled all the prophecies about the Savior, on this day they saw one more prophecy fulfilled. Peter said, “We’re not drunk, instead we are the fulfillment of what was spoken about by the prophet Joel, “And afterward, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days.“ Peter and the disciples now saw a prophecy, self-fulfilled. They saw God’s plan of salvation. They saw Jesus save the world from their sin. And now they saw God’s plan for the world after that was done. That Jesus’ disciples, those filled with the Holy Spirit and the love of the Savior, would tell every nation and every people, in every language, in every way, about the Savior who loved and died for them too.
We are a lot like Jesus’ disciples, because we are his disciples. But sometimes I think we often act like his disciples before their eyes were opened. It’s easy to fall into the same traps that they did. We get preoccupied and self-involved in our own lives to such a great extent that it’s easy to close our eyes to God’s plan for our lives. Sometimes it can seem that we hear about God’s master plan of salvation so much, that we stop hearing it. That somehow hearing about Jesus’ death and resurrection for you, for your salvation, just doesn’t have the same effect on you as it might have the first time you heard it.
But then Jesus will open your eyes in the same way he did for his disciples. He reminds you of how he died specifically for you and your sins because he loves you that much. He pours out his Holy Spirit on you like he did his disciples on Pentecost, like he did for you when you were baptized, and like he does for you each time you hear his Word.
And then he also shows you when you are a prophecy self-fulfilled. Because the words from Joel apply to you too. “I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy.“ The Holy Spirit has been poured out on you and Jesus calls to you to spread the message of Jesus throughout the world. What an amazing thing that is, that we are living the prophecies of God, and proclaiming the wonders of God too.
Pastor Nick Schmoller