In the unfolding blast radius of the Pentecost event, Peter stands up and delivers his first ever sermon. He knows that when you start preaching it is pretty smart to lean on words other than your own. Specifically he recites the prophet Joel who had envisioned this moment at the beginning of a new age; the birth of the Church.
“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. ”
— Acts 2:17-18
There are four clear prophecies in the Old Testament of the giving of the Holy Spirit (Joel 2:28-32; Isaiah 44:3-5; Ezekiel 36:26-27; Zechariah 12:10). They speak of who the Spirit is and what he's coming to do.
While the other scriptures are perhaps better at describing what is actually happening Peter chooses the scripture that affirms who it is happening to; it is for all people. Literally written as ‘all flesh’.
Sons. Daughters. Young. Old. Servants. Men. Women.
We tend to think the 'WTF?!' reactions to Pentecost are to do with the crazy manifestations. The Old Testament and the ministry of Jesus are full of supernatural encounters. That is the very reason they were in the room waiting in the first place- they wanted the fireworks! What prompts the 'WTF?!' in the room is far more to do with the undeserving and unqualified people who are receiving it.
The indiscriminate outpouring of the Spirit upends every religious and political system of organization. He liberally ignores all of our categories and social orders. None of this matters to Him.
Paul extends this understanding to the Gentiles, even beyond where Peter was initially willing to go. There is much in Paul’s letters about how we grow in the Spirit, but his understanding of who gets to have Him is clear; everyone.
Our labels and designations are irrelevant to a life in the Spirit. Jesus says in the Sermon on the Mount that “He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” The Holy Spirit is raining on the zealot and the heretic, the most wretched wrongdoer and selfless saint.
This is wonderful news for you and me. Our qualification to receive the Spirit is to be human. Something even I can manage.
Understandably, the first hearers of this message said “Peter, this is crazy! Have you met my wife? Have you seen my lazy, entitled children? What on earth should we do now?”
“Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.” Acts 2:38-39
Don’t worry! You have been forgiven! Simply position your whole self to receive more of Him! This is God keeping His promise to you, your family and all the people!
Peter knew the person of Jesus Christ better than anyone. He had seen with his own eyes that:
Jesus the Son of God has come; affirming our humanity and value to the Father.
Jesus the Messiah has lived; declaring and demonstrating the Kingdom of God.
Jesus the Savior has died; revealing the self-sacrificial nature of the Father’s love.
Jesus the Redeemer has risen; confirming His power over death and evil.
Jesus the Lord of All has ascended; displaying His status as King of Heaven and Earth.
Without hesitation Peter links the liberal and indiscriminate outpouring of the Spirit to the liberal and indiscriminate outpouring of forgiveness. For it is the Spirit of Jesus that we receive.
To put it simply, all is grace.