Bible Story - The Power Arrives
When Jesus was on earth in person, signs of God's power were all over the place. This makes perfect sense to those who believe he was and is the Son of God, one with God Himself.
Of course he can make the lame walk and the blind see. Of course he can feed 5000 people with five loaves of bread and two fish. Of course he can always say the right thing and do the right thing. Of course he can handle every situation wisely.
But what about those of us who are not God? Now that Jesus is not here any more, where does that leave us? Bereft of power?
No, not according to the Bible story below. It happened on Pentecost Day, one of the three annual feasts on the Jewish calendar. That day came ten days after Jesus was raised to heaven, still alive in his resurrected body. 120 of his followers were meeting together and praying, following his instructions to wait for the "power from above."
Here is the original story of heaven's power coming to earth, pouring down onto the followers of Jesus, showing what he can do through them even when he is not among them in person.
Jesus sends heaven's power to earth in the Holy Spirit
Acts 2.1-12 The Message
1-4 When the Feast of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Without warning there was a sound like a strong wind, gale force—no one could tell where it came from. It filled the whole building. Then, like a wildfire, the Holy Spirit spread through their ranks, and they started speaking in a number of different languages as the Spirit prompted them.
5-11 There were many Jews staying in Jerusalem just then, devout pilgrims from all over the world. When they heard the sound, they came on the run. Then when they heard, one after another, their own mother tongues being spoken, they were thunderstruck. They couldn’t for the life of them figure out what was going on, and kept saying, “Aren’t these all Galileans? How come we’re hearing them talk in our various mother tongues?
Parthians, Medes, and Elamites;
Visitors from Mesopotamia, Judea, and Cappadocia,
Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia,
Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene;
Immigrants from Rome, both Jews and proselytes;
Even Cretans and Arabs!
“They’re speaking our languages, describing God’s mighty works!”
12 Their heads were spinning; they couldn’t make head or tail of any of it. They talked back and forth, confused: “What’s going on here?”
Jesus sends heaven's power to earth in the Holy Spirit
(same story as above, but in the New Living Translation)
1 On the day of Pentecost all the believers were meeting together in one place. 2 Suddenly, there was a sound from heaven like the roaring of a mighty windstorm, and it filled the house where they were sitting. 3 Then, what looked like flames or tongues of fire appeared and settled on each of them. 4 And everyone present was filled with the Holy Spirit and began speaking in other languages, as the Holy Spirit gave them this ability.
5 At that time there were devout Jews from every nation living in Jerusalem. 6 When they heard the loud noise, everyone came running, and they were bewildered to hear their own languages being spoken by the believers.
7 They were completely amazed. “How can this be?” they exclaimed. “These people are all from Galilee, 8 and yet we hear them speaking in our own native languages! 9 Here we are—Parthians, Medes, Elamites, people from Mesopotamia, Judea, Cappadocia, Pontus, the province of Asia, 10 Phrygia, Pamphylia, Egypt, and the areas of Libya around Cyrene, visitors from Rome 11 (both Jews and converts to Judaism), Cretans, and Arabs. And we all hear these people speaking in our own languages about the wonderful things God has done!” 12 They stood there amazed and perplexed. “What can this mean?” they asked each other.
The miracle of praising God in foreign languages seems odd. How does one miracle with languages change the game of global power?
It shows that the power of heaven that Jesus is sending to earth is a power for good not for domination, and its most basic feature is that it will be heard as good news in the heart languages of all peoples. It is a celebration not an edict. It is a report about a down-to-earth fact--Jesus is alive again--not a claim about the power of truth and ideas. And it creates peace among the nations without imposing peace through force.
And there's more. This odd miracle was designed to spread this good news throughout the ancient world at great speed. It occurred during one of the three main Jewish annual feasts in Jerusalem. Jews and converts made pilgrimages to these feasts from all over the world. So imagine the conversations a few weeks later when all those pilgrims got home.
"How was your trip?"
"Great! But the craziest thing happened while we were there."
"What was that?"
"There was this roaring sound like a strong wind, and then there were a hundred or more locals all shouting excitedly at the same time in lots of different languages. And we heard some of them speaking our language, even though they had never been here."
"No way! What did they say?
That conversation, plus the news of what Jesus's followers had said, would have been repeated countless times across the world in just a few weeks. Many who heard it, even second or third hand, would have concluded: "That God over there in Jerusalem speaks our national language, and he has a message for our nation about Jesus. Let's find out more."
Everybody knows that emperors don't speak your language. They make you learn theirs. So Jesus sends his message to the world--the One who sits on the throne of the universe is not your typical emperor. The power game has changed.