“After an evening out, Roger was in no shape to drive, so he sensibly left his car parked and walked home. As he was staggering along, he was stopped by a policeman. ‘What are you doing out here at three o’clock in the morning?’ asked the police officer.
‘I’m on my way to a lecture,’ answered Roger.
‘And who on earth, in their right mind, is going to give a lecture at this time of night?’ inquired the constable sarcastically.
‘My wife,’ slurred Roger grimly.1
It was supposed, believe it or not, by the crowds gathered on that first Pentecost, that the Apostles were in for a lecture or two from their wives. “They are filled with new wine,” the people joked, as they heard the Apostles speaking in any number of languages; Par’thians and Medes and E’lamites and residents of Mesopota’mia, Judea and Cappado’cia, Pontus and Asia, Phryg’ia and Pamphyl’ia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyre’ne, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabians, they could all hear the Apostles telling them in their own tongues the mighty works of God.
Amazing, yes, but it must have sounded like the last 50 guys leaving Burning Man in their party bus. The polite way to translate what Luke wrote was to say that they were “filled with new wine,” but Luke’s descriptive language translates better as “tanked up with new wine,” filled to the brim.2
It was not inconceivable that they were hammered; the Apostles had been together in one place for more than a week after the Ascension, waiting on the promised Holy Spirit; they had little else to do but shoot the breeze over a wine or four. But it was only the third hour of the day, what we would call 9:00 o’clock in the morning, and Peter quite clearly tells the crowd that they were not in the habit of drinking in the morning.
What had actually happened was, in fact, inconceivable, except that it happened. When the day of Pentecost had come, 50 days after the Passover, the Apostles had managed to do what Jesus had told them to do right before He ascended into Heaven, which was to stay together in Jerusalem and await the Holy Spirit. They had no idea what that would look like or what to say to the Holy Spirit when He got there, but the Holy Spirit knows how to make an entrance. A roar like a tornado and then tongues of fire, distributed and resting on each one of them. In another descriptive phrase from Luke, the word ‘distributed’ really means “to cleave asunder, to cut in pieces as a butcher does meat… (which) means that “the fire-like appearance presented itself at first, as it were, in a single body, and then suddenly parted in this direction and that; so that a portion of it rested on each of those present”.3 The fiery tongues must have reminded the Apostles of the pillar of fire that led their ancestors out of Egypt and across the desert, on top of just scaring them silly.
So we have three miracles here, really, three manifestations of the Holy Spirit: the roar at His entrance, the fire distributed and resting on each of the Apostles, and then the speaking in the languages of those who had gathered to see what the fuss was all about.
We might not get to meet the Holy Spirit with all the pyrotechnics of the first time Christians met Him, but that doesn’t mean the Spirit doesn’t dwell with us, within us, or work through us. The manifestations of the Holy Spirit are many; boiled down they are: Wisdom, Knowledge, Faith, Healing, Working of Miracles, Prophecy, Discerning of Spirits, Tongues and the Interpretation of Tongues, Understanding, Counsel, Fortitude, Piety, and Fear of the Lord.
I see a tankful of the manifestations of the Holy Spirit here at Christ Church, both in our life here together and in our ministry to our city and township. As we mark this Pentecost and mark the first Holy Communion of a bunch of our young people, pray that the Holy Spirit comes to us and remains with us, that the saving knowledge of Christ Jesus may be spread through our words and actions, and that the grace, comfort, and peace of the Holy Spirit may come to rest on all the world.
2Robertson’s Word Pictures, http://www.biblestudytools.com/commentaries/robertsons-word-pictures/acts/acts-2-13.html