“Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome (both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs—we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!” Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, “What does this mean?”
I Will Tell You What It Means
I’ve heard the pastor read these Bible verses during worship more than once on a Sunday morning, and I’m always glad that he is a trained public speaker. There are a lot of place names here that are difficult to pronounce. Why is this list here in the Bible? What does it mean?
On Pentecost, the people listening to the pastors preaching all heard words in their own language even though they weren’t sure that those preachers, Jesus’ disciples, could actually speak that language. That would be have been both amazing and perplexing. What did it mean?
I’ll tell you what it meant. God had a very important message to get out as quickly as possible, and he did not want a language barrier to prevent it. This message was so important that God wanted it to spread geographically as quickly as possible, so he brought people from all over the world to hear it right when it was preached, shortly after Jesus rose from the dead and ascended into heaven.
And I’ll tell you what that list of country names means today. It means that no one is left out. Christianity is not just for certain people in certain countries. The forgiveness of sins won by Jesus is for every person in every land. It’s for immigrants as well as natives, visitors as well as residents. Even if other people can’t pronounce the place that people are from, the wonders of God are for them.
In the sermon that follows these words, Peter explains that Jesus is the Savior of all people. He calls his hearers then and today to repentance and faith in Jesus. I’ll tell you what that means: Life and salvation.
Lord God, heavenly Father, I praise you for the wonderful things you have done for me through Jesus Christ my Lord. Amen.