When was the last time you were really surprised? Like, truly surprised? Scream-like-a-little-girl surprised? Put-your-hands-over-your-mouth surprised? “I-have-no-words” surprised? I-can’t-believe-this-is-happening-to-me surprise?
This weekend we will (along with Christians around the world) be celebrating Pentecost. And talk about a surprising day!
First, there was the sound of a loud rushing wind that filled the house the disciples had gathered in. Then, there was the tongues of flame that flickered over the heads of Jesus’ followers. If that wasn’t enough, those same people began to speak in all sorts of languages. Whatever they said was understood by Parthians, Medes, Elamites, Mesopotamians, Judeans, and Cppadocians, Pontians, and Asians, Phrygians, Pamphylians, Egyptians, Libyans, Romans, Cretans, and Arabs all could understand. Talk about a surprise! These normal, everyday people suddenly had the ability to speak in all the world’s languages. And that was because God wanted all the people in the world to hear His Good-News, Life-Giving, Eternity-Altering Word.
But, all of that (the loud rushing wind, the tongues of fire, the speaking in the languages of the world) was really just there to point the people to the most surprising reality of all: the promise of salvation for ALL people who believe in Jesus.
On Pentecost, as God sent out and filled His people with the Holy Spirit, God was letting the world know who He came for: all people. Salvation wasn’t just for the good people, the worthy people, or even the Jewish people. Salvation wasn’t just for the people who had earned it, who looked the part, or who fit the mold. No, salvation was for young and old. Male and female. Slave and free. It was for the people you’d least expect and the ones you never gave a chance to.
Pentecost is a reminder that Jesus came for all people. His Spirit fills all believers.
But, let’s never forget that included in that ALL is YOU. YOU are a Holy Spirit filled Christian and Jesus came to bring YOU salvation. Maybe you don’t fit the mold. Maybe you don’t think you are worthy. Maybe you don’t think you’ve earned it. Maybe you have a hard time believing it. But, it’s true. God came for YOU.
That’s the kind of surprise God has for you. A surprising love that we don’t find anywhere else. A surprising grace that covers the worst of what we bring Him. A surprising kindness that welcomes in even people like me and you.