09/29/2015 04:53 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

The Outpouring of the Spirit

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As Jesus followers gathered on Pentecost Sunday, 50 days after the Sabbath following his crucifixion, they were startled by rushing winds and tongues of fire. Travelers had come to Jerusalem from all parts of the known world, but an even more amazing thing happened. Despite representing diverse language groups, people were enabled to speak in and to understand unknown languages.

Reported in Acts 2 as the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, the event resembles a reversal of the language-confusion inflicted upon arrogant king Nimrod and builders of the Tower of Babel in Genesis 11. Then Peter stood and preached, declaring this to be the fulfillment of the prophecy of Joel 2. In the last days, God's Spirit would be poured out on young and old, on men and women, on leaders and servants; those calling upon the name of the Lord would be saved. The response on that day was impressive! Those responding to the gospel that day numbered 3,000, marking the beginning of the church.

In addition to receiving visions of how things ought to be, believers met together for table fellowship, worship, and the teaching of the apostles. They pooled their resources together into a commonwealth, and the needs of all were addressed. When the Holy Spirit is poured out upon humanity, lives change. Not only does empathy and understanding prevail among diverse people groups, but believers also share what they have with those in need. In the outpouring of the Spirit, the blessings of Abraham are extended to all peoples, and the visionary prophecy of Joel is fulfilled.


(Pentecost, Donald Jackson, Copyright 2002, The Saint John's Bible, Saint John's University, Collegeville, Minnesota USA. Used by permission. All rights reserved. See the reflection on Pentecost by Rachel Gabelman: