The Underdog (Pentecost)

Passage: Acts 2:1-13

Optional Resources:

Video – Post Match Interview Bradford City Semi Final

If you are going to use the video then use it immediately after the reading before you start the talk)

Everybody loves an underdog. In the 2012-13 season football fans watched one of the greatest underdog stories that seen in the last 50 years:

Bradford City, struggling in League Two, progressed through the league cup playing football that seemed way above the standard expected of them, beating Watford from the championship before Aston Villa, Wigan and Arsenal of the Premier League. When people saw them play spectators and pundits were lost for words. Utterly amazed they asked “Aren’t these guys from Bradford? Don’t they play in League Two? Yet here we see them playing like Barcelona!”

Amazed and perplexed they said to each other: “What does this mean?” Some, however, made fun of them and said “Maybe they’ve been taking performance enhancing steroids.”

Now I know comparing the disciples to Bradford City might seem a little silly but I think you begin to get a picture of what people were witnessing when they saw the disciples on the day of Pentecost.

You see the disciples were not a bunch of public speakers or linguists. They were a bunch of ordinary, normal, down to earth people. They were fishermen, tax collectors, labourers. They were a bunch of people who had spent the last few weeks hiding because they were too afraid to go out – yet here they were in public speaking with confidence and in languages that they’d never learnt. It must have been stunning to see.

So what had changed? What had happened to kick-start this transformation?

The bible tells us that it was the Holy Spirit. One moment they were scared, unsure, quiet and the next they were confident, bold and, by the sound of it, pretty loud.

Some of you are wondering why I never finished the Bradford City story. Did they win the Cup? Were they promoted from League Two? Are they now preparing for European football next season? The answer to all of those questions is, well, no.

They were beaten 5-0 in the final by Swansea City with barely a shot on goal. They are currently still struggling to stay in contention for a playoff place in League Two. And this is where the comparison completely falls apart.

You see, I have no idea what inspired Bradford City’s cup run. I don’t know what caused them to stop playing like a League Two team and look more like a Champions League Team but, whatever it was, it didn’t last.
They lost momentum, ran out of steam and slowly but surely the season just seemed to grind to a halt.

I say this is where the comparison falls apart because this is definitely not what happened to the disciples. If you have a free couple of hours this week then spend it reading the book of Acts! You’ll be blown away. The disciples go on to see amazing miracles, in the verses that follow the passage we read this morning Peter preaches his first ever sermon and 3000 people come to faith.

The same scared and uncertain disciples who were huddled together in that room on the morning of Pentecost went on to found a church that still lasts over 2000 years later.

When we encounter the Holy Spirit today we find that the same things happen – ordinary people, people who could quite realistically be described as underdogs, are able to do extraordinary things. God brings confidence and power where there was only fear and anxiety beforehand.

So if you’re sitting here today thinking that there is no way that God could use you – that you’re too shy or not qualified enough I have some news for you. You are exactly the sort of person God uses!

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