When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them. Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard their own language being spoken. Utterly amazed, they asked: “Aren’t all these who are speaking Galileans? Then how is it that each of us hears them in our native language? Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome (both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs—we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!” Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, “What does this mean?” Some, however, made fun of them and said, “They have had too much wine.” Acts 2:1-13 NIV
Acts 2 had a new meaning for me this week because of an experience I had at a rainy concert at Red Rocks. My husband bought us tickets to see Chris Tomlin at Red Rocks on Tuesday and we had a very rainy and somewhat cold night. But the worship music was wonderful! Most of us in the audience were doing our best to stay warm and dry while we sang along with the songs being sung.
I had a poncho over my winter coat and a blanket over my legs. The hood of my coat and poncho kept me dry, but I also felt like I was in a cocoon, I had tunnel vision. At times, I could only hear the singer and myself singing. It was a unique concert experience. I was in a crowd of thousands, but for much of the concert it felt like I was in a concert with Chris Tomlin all by myself. It felt uniquely personal, like I was worshipping God alone – yet in the midst of many other people doing the same thing.
I highlighted the words above, because I wanted us to focus on the uniquely personal part of the coming of the Holy Spirit. The whole group of Jesus’ followers received the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost, but “They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them,” (Acts 2:3). The Holy Spirit came to rest on each of them – they could tell that each person had its own distinct flames on or above each person. Then Luke told us that those who heard the disciples preaching said, “we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!” (Acts 2:11b). Many of these Jews visiting Jerusalem for Pentecost came from all sorts of nations. Yet – each heard the good news about Jesus in their own tongue – the message was being given to each one alone – to each one personally. God loves the world, but He loves each of us personally.
Have you ever experienced a unique, meaningful, or special worship experience like this? Being with God, being with others, but also it being a uniquely personal worship experience? If so, reflect on that time and thank God for the many ways He is with each one of us because He sent the Holy Spirit.