Experience - Day 8

Acts 2:1-6 NLT

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.

Pentecost would have happened approximately 50 days after the celebration of Passover.  Luke tells us that Jesus spent 40 days with the disciples and other followers following his resurrection, which would suggest that for 10 days after Jesus’ ascension, “all the believers were meeting together in one place.”

What were they doing during this time?  My guess is they were invested in three things: One - they spent a lot of time in prayer.  Two - they likely spent time talking to each other and processing all the events that had taken place in the last several weeks.  The resurrection, Jesus’ appearances, it was all so amazing and surreal.  Three - they were obeying their Master’s last instruction which was to remain in Jerusalem until they had received the gift of the Holy Spirit that Jesus promised would come (John 14: 15-18, 15: 26, 16:7-9).

And though I want to jump to the experience of the Spirit, I want to linger a little longer in the waiting.  Note that they waited for the promise, together.  Chapter 2 of Acts will end in the same way as it begins, together in community.  Let us not look past this too quickly for community is a critical ingredient in the experience of the Holy Spirit.  I fear sometimes we are too quick to want to make all of our deeply meaningful spiritual experiences, solo events; off on our own, in a wilderness.  But those experiences seem to be the exception, not the rule.  The Spirit comes and is experienced and enjoy and on display most within community.

Then, as they are meeting together in one place, the experience begins.  And the experience is immersive, it includes sound, sight, as well as action.

It’s also interesting to note that the sound they heard was “like” a windstorm, but it wasn’t a windstorm.  And what descended upon them was “like” tongues of fire, but they weren’t tongues of fire.  This was a supernatural experience and they described it as best they could, much like when the apostle John tells us in Revelation that the streets of heaven were made of pure, translucent, gold.  Were they actually streets of gold, or was gold the best comparison the John could make?  Guess we’ll find out, but the emphasis is that supernatural things are simply that, super-natural, more than our natural experiences can comprehend.

This experience, however, wasn’t just for those in the room.  The Spirit came into the believers who were meeting together, praying and waiting, but the result was a message and impact that went beyond the walls of that room.  Jews from all over the world who had gathered in Jerusalem came running.  What they heard, blew them away.  Each one heard a message spoken in their native tongue.  And this was only the beginning. 

  1. Can you remember back to something you wanted, but had to wait a long time to receive?  What was the waiting like?  Were there people who waited with you, or were you alone in the waiting? 
  2. Thinking back over your life with God, what were some of the most powerful experiences you had with Him, of Him?  Were you alone?  With others?  And what did being alone or with others do to add, or maybe even subtract, from the experience?
  3. Have you ever had what you would call an experience of the Holy Spirit?  If so, what was it?  If not, take some time to think and define what you expect an experience with the Spirit to be like.  Then take some time to reflect on what seeking and waiting might look like for you, and who might join you in the wait.

By Pastor Paddy McCoy

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