Scoffers

You can’t please ’em all.

You may have prayed avidly and worked your biblical buns off to craft the best sermon you knew how. But somebody still took issue with it.

You may have gone into that meeting to make a proposal, thinking you’d covered all the bases and were ready for anything. But somebody still shot it down, for reasons that don’t even make sense to you.

Maybe you even said to yourself, “To please everyone would take a miracle.”

Problem is, people can blow off miracles, too.

In previous posts, we’ve seen how the Holy Spirit descended on the apostles at Pentecost, empowering them to speak in languages they didn’t know — but the others around them did. These people were astounded: they couldn’t figure out how these backward Galileans could possibly do this. Luke doesn’t tell us at this point that the people were ready to believe. They were just confused, still asking what it could all mean.

Others, however, didn’t seem confused at all. They were ready with an explanation. It was dismissive one: “They’re full of new wine” (Acts 2:13, CEB). In other words, “What are you all gawking at? These guys are just drunk.”

Maybe the scoffers just weren’t paying attention.  But on the face of it, it was a strange thing to say. Were they trying to tell people that they were just imagining it all? That what sounded like their own language was really just drunken babble?

That can’t have gone over well.

And if the nay-sayers weren’t denying what others were hearing, then their explanation seems even more ludicrous. It would be like telling someone, Hey, want to learn a foreign language? Forget all those language-learning websites, textbooks, and college courses. All you have to do is chug a six-pack or two. It’ll have you speaking like a native in no time.

This isn’t reasoned argument. It’s the kind of thing we say to brush away things that inconveniently disturb our worldview.

Things like miracles.

We’ve all done that, haven’t we? Think about it. When was the last time you said something thoughtless and dismissive in response to something you didn’t want to hear? Perhaps a friend says something uncomplimentary about someone else you know and like. Do you take the comment in and consider it? Or do you automatically say, “No, you must have misunderstood”? Do you make up an explanation beginning with, “Well, they only did that because…,” even if you have no evidence whatsoever that this is the case?

We are all capable of putting up walls like that, even when it requires an astonishing level of denial. After all, when Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, it only made some people want to put him in the grave instead.

It can be daunting to think of having to witness to people who don’t want to hear what you have to say. If they sneer at miracles, what chance could you possibly have?

But Peter — good old act first, think later Peter — was newly filled with the Spirit and ready to answer the skeptics. Stay tuned.

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