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God’s Word for You

Acts 2:5-8 a crowd gathered

by Pastor Timothy Smith on Friday, August 23, 2019

5 Now there were God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven staying in Jerusalem.  6 When this sound happened, a crowd gathered, and they were confused because each one heard apostles speaking in his own language.  7 Totally surprised, they asked: “Aren’t all these men who are speaking Galileans?  8 Then how is it that each of us hears them in his own native language?

At this point, we must assume that the apostles moved from the house where they were staying and had gone out into the streets of Jerusalem. Did they make their way toward the temple? Did they make their way toward a market square in the “old city” west of the temple? Did they head south into the City of David?  We don’t know enough to satisfy our curiosity about this, since the important fact, the sermon itself, was necessarily what was recorded.

The crowd’s confusion (NIV “bewilderment”) is easy to understand. Even those who are so bi-lingual as to be comfortable thinking in another language are most at home in the language of their homeland and in the dialect of their home town. The confused people were Jews, Godly men and women “from every nation under heaven.” The list of these nations, which we will read in verses 9-11, is truly impressive. We don’t need to think of “every nation” as hyperbole. There were Jews in virtually every nation and large city in the known world at the time. Herod Agrippa reported that “There is no people upon the habitable earth which do not have some portion of you (Jews) among them” (Josephus, Wars 2,16,4).

Hearing the sound of the violent wind, people left their houses to see what was happening. The tongues of flame attracted their attention to who was doing the talking, and the familiar languages made the message clear. The miracle attracted the attention of Jerusalem’s visitors, and drew a congregation together. The confession of the crowd was that the apostles were speaking in the native languages of the visitors to Jerusalem from around the world. A bunch of Galileans (perhaps their accents still gave them away, Mark 14:70; Luke 22:59) were speaking in Latin, Cretan, Arabic, and a dozen other languages!

With these miracles, the Holy Spirit was personally fulfilling the message of Isaiah: “Every valley shall be raised up, every mountain and hill made low; the rough ground shall become level, and the rugged places a plain” (Isaiah 40:4). All of the difficulties and obstacles to the gospel were removed. Even the language barrier was kicked over. Flashing lights pointed out who was speaking the right words, and a blast of noise got everyone’s attention. It was like a rock concert for the Holy Spirit.

Sometimes you need to put on a show. Sometimes you don’t. Sometimes you just need to confirm the message that someone has already heard. These God-fearing Jews were people looking for the coming of the Savior. The message that they heard was that the Savior had come, and that now God’s love has covered over the sins of all mankind. Think of their joy, their relief! This is the same message we still carry into the world today. Don’t be afraid to share it.

In Christ,
Pastor Timothy Smith

Pastor Tim SmithAbout Pastor Timothy Smith
Pastor Smith serves St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in New Ulm, Minnesota. His wife, Kathryn, attended the Chapel from 1987-1990 while studying Secondary Education (Theater and Math) at UW-Madison. Kathryn’s father, John Meyer, was also the first man to serve as a Vicar at Chapel.

To receive God’s Word for You via e-mail, please contact Pastor Smith.



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