Jerusalem was jam-packed with Jews from all over the world; they’d gathered to celebrate the feast of Pentecost. This was the context God chose for the initial outpouring of the Holy Spirit onto the disciples & gathered believers.
The city was buzzing – hearing these ‘common,’ unschooled men & women speaking the praises of God in the tongues of far-off peoples generated all sorts of intrigue & questions. Some said the disciples had just drunk too much wine, but others knew that wasn’t it, & were desperate to know, “What is going on here?”
Peter. The one who, days before, had denied even knowing Christ three times. The one who had trembled in fear & wasn’t able to acknowledge his relationship with Christ to a servant girl.
Peter addressed the crowd of thousands & explained what was happening:
…Peter, standing with the eleven, lifted up his voice & addressed them: “Men of Judea & all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, & give ear to my words. For these people are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day. But this is what was uttered through the prophet Joel: “‘& in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh…”
Peter is an example of one who has been filled with the power of the Holy Spirit to live for Christ, & to give witness to what God has done & is doing in, through, & around us. His fear & timidity have been replaced with boldness. His past failures, fears, denials & inadequacies did NOT dictate his present & future, in Christ.
I believe that there was a moment as Peter gathered himself to speak to the crowd that he was bombarded with thoughts of fear & memories of his denials of Christ. It’s what our enemy does; he accuses us before God, & he reminds us of our past sins, failures, & the like. And then there’s the accusation, the lie that sounds a lot like this– “if you try to talk you will fail. You’ll look stupid. You’ll be a failure. Again.”
This accusation is one that is directed at & against the character of God – because the LORD has promised to fill our mouths, & tells us that the Holy Spirit will teach us at that very moment what to say.
Being filled with the Holy Spirit’s boldness means being willing & able to reject the accusations & reminders of the enemy, & being willing & able to respond to the Holy Spirit’s promptings for the situation at hand.
Peter did it. So can we.