The day of Pentecost was not your average day.
About a month after Jesus had died and come back to life, He ascended into heaven, promising to immersea the budding Christian movement in the Holy Spirit, so that, until He returns, they can be His “witnesses, telling people about [Him] everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
And a week-or-so later, He does.
The Holy Spirit is a very big and confusing topic, but when He comes (on the Jewish holiday known as Pentecost), the first demonstration of His power is that suddenly the disciples have the ability to speak languages they’ve never learnedbc.
When the crowd, containing people from “every nation under heaven”d, hears these Galilean Jews speaking about Jesus in their native languages, they are “astounded and perplexed”. Understandable.
But there are always detractors. Some in the crowd mock those who claim to be hearing these Christians talking in their native tongues.
“They’re full of new wine!” they claim.
At this point, Pete gets up and decides to give a rousing speech.
“Pay attention to my words,” he begins. “These people are not drunk, as you suppose.”
They seem to be listening.
“After all,” he adds with a smirk, “it’s only nine in the morning.”
Pete then takes the crowd on a oratorical tour of the Old Testament, and explains how Jesus fulfils it all. The sermon goes down well, and three thousand peoplee decide to become Christians—wait, what! Three thousand people!
b. In the larger story of the Bible, this symbolically reverses the damage done at Babel. It’s also handy, when you’ve just been told to tell people about Jesus “everywhere…to the ends of the earth”.
c. Also, dang I’d love to have this ability.
d. This is probably a good example of a hyperbolic statement, but nevertheless, they do list a large number of nationalities: Parthians, Medes, Elamites, Mesopotamians, Judeans, Cappadocians, Pontics, Asians, Phrygians, Pamphylians, Egyptians, Libyans, Romans, Cretans, and Arabs.
e. What a logistical nightmare this would be for the stodgy, institutionalised churches of today!