Welcome to Tuesday’s Podcast. Our reading today is Acts 2:14-21 but today I want to focus on verse 14:
‘Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd: Fellow Jews and all of you, who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say…’
I was sat in a curry house once with some people and I got placed next to someone I didn’t know. Turns out he was a surgeon. As he described his job he said something which really surprised me. He said ‘I could teach you to be a surgeon…’ He wasn’t crackers but he talked of it like a mechanic changing a clutch. It was practical – he even said simple. His point was to be surgeon, yes you need medical knowledge and training– but for the surgery part, and the kind he did, it required learning from other people. It required being in the room – watching the experienced surgeon’s every move.
That really stayed with me. I thought about it more years later when at my previous church we had a major building renovation. The tradesmen were incredible. Sometimes I was in awe of what they could do. Some of the level of craftsmanship, their ability to fix problems and just to make things look so wonderful left a deep impression on me. One carpenter was like an artist – his work was and is stunningly beautiful.
The thing they pretty much all had in common was they learned their trade, their craft from other people.
They had been apprentices – they had worked closely with somebody; learned from them and had developed their talents by learning, watching, being shown, learning from other people.
What does this have to do with Pentecost you may well ask?
But today – I want to think about Peter. There is so much we could say about today’s passage. There’s the theology; the birth of the church – the not to mention the outpouring of the Holy Spirit – I want to stick with Peter.
The context is this: The Holy Spirit has just turned up with such phenomena that travelling pilgrims have heard 16 different obscure languages spoken. And then in Jerusalem – epicentre of Jewish culture and life – a move of God breaks out – not in the temple. Not with the religious leaders but on the streets and it’s gathering crowds. If I was Peter or the other disciples – I’d be totally wracked with nerves. Will they authorities stop us? Kill us? Imprison us? What will they do to us?
Peter, that fiery fisherman from Galilee, stands up and addresses the crowd. Seriously? A Galilean? Unschooled, uncultured Peter stands and delivers the sermon of his life. His moment. His time.
So where do you find that kind of courage?
You see I have misread these passages over the years because I’ve assumed that the Holy Spirit turns up and then and only then somehow Peter finds his voice – he preaches one of the most amazing sermons in the Bible and to top it off 3000 people become followers of Jesus. I’ve just assumed that it’s all down to the Holy Spirit – which of course it is, in part.
But it isn’t just the Holy Spirit who takes this uneducated fisherman and turns him into a total power house.
Before you send an email about my heresy. Let me be clear, I can.
There’s something here that if we can grab – we can grow with God.
The reason Peter stands with such courage – in my view – Is that he’s seen Jesus up close and personal, right? He’s been his apprentice – he’s followed him. He’s seen Jesus stand in front of and address a crowd and so now, when his time to shine comes, it’s not random – it’s precision – he’s doing what he has seen before in his master.
Of course the Holy Spirit provides the power – the words – and the response. But Peter’s life has been prepared for this moment.
God brings the power – but we also, need to take responsibility and be prepared. It’s our responsibility to ask the question – how am I growing with God?
You may well be sorted – I’m certainly not.
The truth is that I need to rely on the Holy Spirit more. I cannot heal people. I cannot make breakthroughs happen alone. But I can learn from others who have a deeper hunger and more intimate walk than I do.
I have learned so much from other people. I have learned from Mick – a huge amount – and if I look back over many years I am so grateful for the example of other people – people who I could look to, who I was close enough to see how they lived. How they spoke to their spouse, their kids or their colleagues. How they loved God in the midst of personal tragedy and for some living a life of great courage. For some I knew what their devotional life was like; their prayer life, or how they dealt with challenges.
I am able to do what I do – yes because of God’s power, but also the example, the road map other’s lives have gifted me with – those practical examples have helped me tremendously!
We know that discipleship isn’t just information – a conference, a book or a year out – it’s to imitate, apprentice ourselves to Jesus.
The way we start is by asking – who am I following? So, if you’re experiencing challenging stuff – who could be the person you talk to? Spend time with? To whom you can ask those practical questions of how to walk with Jesus? If you don’t know – ask around. And who could you offer to help? To share from your experience?
Father, I pray for opportunities to learn and grow. Help us to find people in our lives and share all we’ve learned and learn from others.
READING: Acts 2:14-21
Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd: ‘Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say. These people are not drunk, as you suppose. It’s only nine in the morning! No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel:
‘“In the last days, God says,
I will pour out my Spirit on all people.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy,
your young men will see visions,
your old men will dream dreams.
Even on my servants, both men and women,
I will pour out my Spirit in those days,
and they will prophesy.
I will show wonders in the heavens above
and signs on the earth below,
blood and fire and billows of smoke.
The sun will be turned to darkness
and the moon to blood
before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord.
And everyone who calls
on the name of the Lord will be saved.”