(Second in a series)
I rushed to the house where the apostles were staying. It was miraculously undamaged by the tongues of flame that crashed into it. But before I reached the house a tremendous roar went up from the crowd.
"There they are!" someone shouted.
"They're alive!" cried another.
I looked up and saw Peter and the other apostles, the two Marys and several others slowly walking down the stairs. Surprisingly, they were unharmed. Moreover, they looked confident, inspired, strong and in charge.
Then they began to talk, and of course I could understand them because we speak the same language. But so did everybody else! Everybody understood what they were saying! The Cappadocians, the Libyans, the Egyptians, the Cretans and Cyreneans, even the Asians!
How could this be? How could all these people, from places scattered throughout the world, all possibly understand what the apostles were saying? Everybody heard the apostles speaking their language.
Nobody could explain their miraculous ability to master these different languages so quickly, but one wise guy had an opinion.
"They're drunk!" he shouted from the crowd.
"They've had too much wine!" added another.
Peter did not think that was funny.
"It's only nine in the morning!" he countered. Everybody knew that the ritual of Pentecost required that there be no food or drink before ten in the morning on this special holy day.
I was shocked at the new-found power in his voice. Although he was often very outspoken, never before had I heard him speak with such confidence and authority.
"All this was predicted by the prophet Joel," He declared. "You would not be so surprised at these happenings if you were familiar with his words. In fact, you have seen nothing yet compared to what is to come."
I remembered Joel's prophecy: "I will pour forth my Spirit on all mankind. Your young people will prophesy and your old people will dream dreams." I had read those words many times in the synagogue but had no idea what they meant.
Peter explained: "Joel writes that God will 'show wonders in the heavens above and signs on the earth below, blood and fire and a cloud of smoke.' These things have come to pass before your eyes to prove to you that the day of the Lord has come."
People were listening, acknowledging Peter's leadership. Yet they remained puzzled at the day's happenings.
"What are we supposed to do now?" someone asked. I think it was the same wise guy.
"Look at yourselves!" Peter responded in a thundering voice. "See what a mess you have made of your lives! Repent and be baptized! Believe in the resurrected Lord Jesus who died for you!"
Peter was right. God had fulfilled the prophecy of Joel in his own powerful way. First of all by getting everyone's attention with a mixture of wind and fire, and then infusing vigor and eloquence into his chosen ones. The Spirit of Pentecost had indeed entered into the apostles, transforming them into powerful exponents of the good news of Jesus the Christ.
Jesus had said that all nations must learn of his miraculous resurrection and be baptized in his name. Now, with their new-found confidence and language skills, the apostles could fulfill this mission. They could talk to the Jews, of course, but now also the Romans, the Greeks, the Chaldeans, the Arabs; even those from Egypt and Crete and points beyond could understand them and hear the word of God in their own language.
After Peter finished speaking some of the crowd began to drift away, but a few stayed behind to talk to the apostles. No matter what language people were speaking, Peter and the other apostles were able to respond so they could understand and clearly grasp the mystery of Jesus.
Over three thousand people were baptized that very day.
(Note: This article is adapted from The Big Tent, by Dave Mishur, which has recently been published by Liberty Hill and is available on Amazon and other online retailers, and can be ordered at any bookstore.)