The Two Questions of the Day of Pentecost


Acts 2:5, 12, 37 (NIV)

5 Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. . 

12 Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, “What does this mean?” . . . 

37 When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?”


I’ve seen them. Well, at least I’ve read and looked at them, but it only occurred to me this time through. Friends, this is why we keep reading and re-reading the Bible together. This is how Revelation works. The meaning of the Scriptures are as fixed as the Sun and yet the insights, implications, and impacts are infinite. The Word of God by the Spirit of God opens up the World of God in which our calling is to do the will of God in the ways of God. And all of this, of course, finds coherence and fulfillment in the person of Jesus. 

So what finally occurred to me after more readings of Acts 2 than I can even remember? Just this—there are two massive questions asked on the Day of Pentecost. They are as comprehensive and sophisticated as they are simple and clarifying. Here they are:

  1. What does this mean? (2:12)
  2. What shall we do? (2:37)

On the surface they seem simple and obvious; however in the hands of the Spirit, they are surgical. What does this mean? What shall we do? What is being revealed to us? How might we respond? 

In my experience over the past few decades, all the energy goes into the “What shall we do,” question. It’s all about the “life-application.” There is little patience and much less appetite to ask the meaning question. Let’s observe how it works in Acts 2. It takes 23 verses to deal with question 1—”What does this mean?” It takes only 3 verses to deal with question 2—”What shall we do?” This should be instructive to us. Eight times as much time and energy is given to question 1 as question 2. Get the meaning question right and the movement matter will resolve quickly. Dig the well deep. The water will flow readily. 

You have noticed, we have spent most of our time so far in this Holy Spirit series on, “What does this mean?” We are digging the well deeper, slowing our pace, sharpening our shovels. We are standing in awe at the scene of the Day of Pentecost. Meanwhile, the spirit of the age works through highly functional impatient activism with the attitude, “Don’t just stand there, do something!” In contrast, the Spirit of Jesus works through deeply submitted atunement with the adage, “Don’t just do something, stand there.” It so often takes the posture of standing there, or kneeling there, to even begin to comprehend the transcendent interpolation taking place, and what it might mean. Let’s remember on the Mount of Transfiguration, Peter wanted to hurry and build three tabernacles. Meanwhile, the voice of God said simply and incisively, “This is my son, whom I love. Listen to him!” 

What if life could get this simple; in every situation to ask, “What might God be revealing here? What does it mean? And beyond asking, how about we learn to wait upon the Lord? As he clarifies meaning, we will also find him crystallizing the ways we are being invited into the Spirit’s response and responsiveness?” 

What does this mean? What shall we do? 

Can we just let those questions settle in us, sink in, saturate and captivate us today? 

Still Day One.


God our Father, who with your son Jesus Messiah, fills us with the Holy Spirit, thank you for the miracle and the mystery of the Day of Pentecost. We stand in awe of it all, and we ask with those first askers, “What does this mean?” Soften our hearts. Spirit of God, sift out our mis-understandings, our preconceived judgments, our tendency to think we have already seen all there is to see. Open the eyes of our hearts to see you, to hear you, and then to ask, “What shall we do?” Praying in Jesus’ name, Amen. 


Are you getting my drift concerning our penchant for so much functional activity and a ready, aim, fire mentality? How might we counter this? 

For the Awakening,
J.D. Walt

Subscribe to the Daily Text Here

Share today's Wake-Up Call!


WHAT IS THIS? Wake-Up Call is a daily encouragement to shake off the slumber of our busy lives and turn our eyes toward Jesus. Each morning our community gathers around a Scripture, a reflection, a prayer, and a few short questions, inviting us to reorient our lives around the love of Jesus that transforms our hearts, homes, churches, and cities.

Comments and Discussion

3 Responses

  1. JD, I’m praying for a successful operation for your dad.
    Concerning your question regarding our penchant to run ahead of God; I think that you’re saying that we need to become more like trees planted by the water, rather than the grass of the field. It takes time to grow deep roots, so that we’re well anchored and sufficiently watered for the life we’re called to live.

  2. The calm call of transfiguration

    The transfiguration of Christ
    Isn’t theology to figure out
    But a calling to live out.
    We can learn to be still
    And listen to Jesus,
    Ignoring our own impulsive and
    Self-motivated marching orders
    That satisfy our desire
    To build monuments.
    Then Christ’s inner presence
    Can release a movement
    Of living water
    That continually flows
    And ever-grows
    Within and around us!
    Instead, church has listened to
    And built like Peter,
    (Even building three chapels
    On Mt. Tabor
    Where it is believed that
    Jesus’ transfiguration occurred.)
    It’s time to learn
    To listen to and follow
    The inner promptings
    Of the Son of God
    As we relish the words
    Of the law and the prophets
    And the holy writings
    Of the first Christians
    Until we’re transfigured
    From within
    And our faces shine
    With the light of the Son.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *