As Jesus tells them that they are going to be baptized in the Spirit, the first followers immediately thought it had something to do with God restoring the nation of Israel to its rightful place as leaders in the ancient world. Their national dream was to rise as God’s Superpower in the world.
It’s interesting how quickly we assume that God has our agenda in his heart. From their history and experience, the early followers believed that a better position for their people and better government would bring peace on earth.
Jesus had something else in mind. The gift of the Holy Spirit would be an act of empowerment. The believers would not the beneficiaries as much as they would be the ambassadors. This gift would energize them for something bigger than their own identity and religious ideals.
Acts 1:8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.
To be Jesus’ witness means to give compelling testimony to the truth. The Holy Spirit would empower believers to present convincing evidence of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection. The witness would extend beyond cultural and language barriers. When the promise of the Father came in the upper room (Acts 2), the miracle of tongues happened.
All the centuries of cultural dissonance and confusion that began at the Tower of Babel, was suddenly being reversed as people spoke in someone else’s language.
As miraculous as it is to speak a language you never learned and to be understood; it is just as remarkable to think that God’s Spirit would allow us to communicate as a witness of Jesus to people that we have nothing in common with.