Click here for the reading: Acts 2:1-21.

There is enough Scriptural allusion packed into Acts 2 to keep a preacher busy his entire life. Whether this or that connection makes its way into the sermon, a feature of Pentecost not to be missed is the fulfillment of things promised and foretold. With Jesus so recently departed from our midst, we rejoice to hear that the Helper he promised (John 14-16) has indeed arrived. He is a helper who is especially tasked with reminding us of this: “that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Acts 2:21).

The Gospel, however, is not just for those who were with Jesus from the time of his baptism. It is not just for those who have seen and believed. Luke’s table of nations (cf. Gen. 10) reflects the harvest of the first-fruits that was celebrated on Pentecost (Ex. 34:22). These Jews from every nation were bewildered as they heard the mighty works of God preached in their own language. They believed and repented and 3,000 were baptized (2:41), a plentiful harvest that previews the in-gathering that is yet to come.

The indiscriminate out-pouring of the Spirit as described by Joel is another feature of Pentecost. It unpacks for us the import of the crucifixion. The curtain of the temple was torn in two signifying the access that humanity now has to God in Christ Jesus. But what are the qualifications for entrance into that most holy place? Must you be a priest? A Jew? A man? Pentecost makes clear the absolute and unqualified character of God’s gifts. His Spirit is to be poured out on all flesh, on every class and standing. The gift of the Holy Spirit is for everyone who calls on the name of the Lord.

Therein we can see the simplicity of the Church’s mission, for all that is required for the mission to proceed is that that the name of the Lord be proclaimed. That simplicity is, however, met with the mockery of the scoffers. “They are filled with new wine” (Acts 2:13). Are these apostles also among the prophets? The declaration of God’s mighty works is a stench to those who are perishing, and they write it off as tomfoolery. But for those who are being saved it is the aroma of life even as the Spirit breathes new life into God’s fallen creatures.

The prophecy of Joel puts every sign and season, all the comings and goings of men, and even the activity of the prophets in perspective. As wonderful as may be the display in the heavens and on the earth that accompanies the pouring out of the Spirit, there is yet coming a greater day – the great and magnificent day of the Lord. On that day, the harmless fire of Pentecost will give way to the fire of judgment. The work of the Holy Spirit’s purifying fire will be complete. The nations will stream into the kingdom, nations who heard the voice of Peter on Pentecost, nations to whom the apostles were sent in the early days of the Church, and nations to whom the call still goes out today by the voice of God’s faithful and prophetic people.