Feasting with God #26
Filled with New Wine
Acts 2:1-6, 12, 13
1When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. 2And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. 3And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. 4And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance. 5Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven. 6And at this sound the multitude came together, and they were bewildered, because each one was hearing them speak his own language…. 12And all were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” 13But others mocking said, “They are filled with new wine.”
Pentecost, the event which comes 50 days after Easter, is significant for Christians as the occasion when the Holy Spirit came upon the disciples and gave them the ability to communicate to people of all different languages, in order to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ to all nations. This was to fulfill the promise of Jesus, when he said, “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you” (John 14:26). What a joyful time, when those who had learned the truth from Jesus were made able to share that truth with others!
But many, as we see, thought that the disciples were drunk; that’s why they mocked and said, “They are filled with new wine.” This accusation was absurd, of course, as Peter pointed out when he began to preach: “For these people are not drunk as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day” (Acts 2:15). It was too early for them to have been imbibing any wine. Besides this, drunkenness does not usually yield the result of being able to speak other languages.
Instead, as Peter went on to prove, this was the fulfillment of a prophecy: “And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy” (Acts 2:17). The disciples were not drunk, but empowered by the Holy Spirit, as foretold, in order to bring the Gospel to the people, so that many might be saved.
And yet, we might say that these disciples were indeed “filled with new wine,” in a manner of speaking. Cyril of Jerusalem, a church father of the early 4th century, illustrated: “In truth the wine was new, even the grace of the New Testament; but this new wine was from a spiritual Vine, which had oftentimes [before] this borne fruit in Prophets, and had budded in the New Testament.” These disciples were not drunk on some literal alcoholic beverage, but on the pure grace of God as found in the Gospel. Because of their salvation, and because of the power of the Holy Spirit that dwelt in them on account of their faith, they were raving, but not randomly as with usual drunkenness. They were raving under the direction of the Holy Spirit, to proclaim the same Gospel that gave them hope and strength.
But this wine of the Gospel was also not entirely new: as Cyril says, it began with the Prophets, with the Patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob—this Gospel wine was even heralded in the ears of our first parents Adam and Eve: “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel” (Gen. 3:15). This is the Gospel of the one man, the offspring of our ancient grandmother, who won the victory over all evil, over sin, death, and Satan himself, and was bitten by that same serpent as he died on the cross. Jesus is the center of this Gospel, who lived the life we couldn’t, died the death we deserved, and rose to the new life he promises us. And this Jesus was also the center of the message that the disciples proclaimed, drunk on its wine.
Dear Jesus, since you have won all things for us by defeating all our enemies, send upon us your Holy Spirit, to strengthen us in the faith of your Gospel, and to enable us to proclaim the same message to others. This is your will, and we ask it in your name. Amen.
Scripture quotations are from the Holy Bible, English Standard Version®, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
 Philip Schaff and Henry Wace, ed. A Select Library of Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church, Series 2. Vol. 7. New York: The Christian Literature Series, 1890-99. Reprint, Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1952, 1961, 128