Before he ascended to Heaven, Jesus echoed John the Baptist’s words about water baptism and Spirit baptism, and promised his disciples that the baptism with the Spirit that they had heard about would happen within a few days (Acts 1:5).
Acts 2 records the events of Pentecost. The Holy Spirit comes in wind and fire, both symbols of the presence of God. We remember that when the Lord led the Israelites through the wilderness, he used a pillar of fire by night. One pillar for the whole nation. Now, the fire separates out into individual flames, one for each disciple. So, the Holy Spirit is distributed to each believer individually. The prophecy of Joel is fulfilled.
Immediately, there is a sign of the presence of the Holy Spirit – the disciples begin to speak in other languages. These are earthly languages, representing the languages of all the Jews who had assembled in Jerusalem for the Feast of Pentecost.
Of course, the disciples could easily have spoken to the assembled crowd in a language they would all have understood – Greek for instance – but that’s not the point. The different languages were a sign that something dramatic had happened. The assembled Jews could not fail to pay attention, even though they did not understand what was happening.
The coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost was a dramatic moment for the disciples, fulfilling both ancient prophecy, and the promises that Jesus had made to them, and equipping them and empowering them for their own work. But it was also a sign to those who were yet to believe in Jesus as their Messiah, as they saw a miracle before their own eyes. Signs and wonders turn unbelievers into believers.
Lord God, I thank you for the outpouring of your Spirit on all people. We pray that you would move in power so that unbelievers would become believers, to your glory alone.