Explain the good news1
Some, however, made fun of them and said, “They have had too much wine.”
- Acts 2:13
Someone once said that this is the best line in the Bible. It’s certainly one of the funniest.
Can you imagine what it must have been like?
The followers of Jesus spilled out into the street; once they were afraid, now they’re as bold as lions. Words flowed from their mouths and people could hear them speaking in languages from all around the world. The crowds exclaimed: “Wow! You’re speaking Arabic” and “Ouyay areay eakingspay igpay atinlay!”
What a spectacular, chaotic scene!
To the disciples, it would have seemed obvious that God was behind what was happening in the streets. But it wasn’t obvious to everyone.
“Preach the gospel always. When necessary, use words,” said St. Francis of Assisi (according to legend). Today’s passage is a good reminder that words are almost always necessary when presenting the good news about Jesus. People will attribute gentleness to cowardice, kindness to weakness, compassion to sentimentality. If people could attribute the miracles around Pentecost to “too much wine,” what makes us think they won’t misinterpret our good actions?
Immediately after the “too much wine” comment, Peter stood up and explained to the crowd that what they were witnessing nothing less than the fulfillment of thousands of years of promises: the Holy Spirit is now available to all people. Someone had to stand up and interpret this history-making event (v. 14-41).
We also have to do the good work to explain the good news about Jesus to people who will misunderstand us otherwise. We can’t let God’s restoration project be mistaken for a little community service.
How have you had opportunities to clarify for people that the good they’re seeing is the result of God’s work? Have you ever had people make fun of your good actions because they misunderstood why you were doing what you were doing?