“How is it that each of us hears them in his own native language?”
A Different Language
Learning a foreign language is a long process and hard work. If you have ever tried it, you know. But a long time ago, on the day of Pentecost, a miraculous thing happened. The Holy Spirit’s power came upon the Apostles, giving them the ability to speak fluently and instantly in languages they had never learned. Amazing!
There was another time in the Bible that languages played a prominent role. People plotted to defy God’s plan to have them spread out over the whole earth and populate it. They began to build a great tower as a symbol of their power and as a rallying point to hold them together. But for their own good, the Lord interrupted their efforts, confused their languages, and put an end to their defiance. (See Genesis 11:1-9.)
Contrast that with what happened on Pentecost. This time languages did not play a role in God’s anger over a defiant people, but rather in his merciful love for all. People from at least 15 different countries all heard the wonders of God in their own native languages. Instead of using language to separate these people, God endowed his disciples with a gift that drew the people together.
Pentecost demonstrated that “God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them” (2 Corinthians 5:19). Despite all their differences, these 15 groups of people were very similar—they were all sinners. In languages they could understand, God communicated to them the good news that their sins were paid for by Jesus’ death.
Perhaps we will meet someone today who speaks a different language. If so, our first reaction might be: How different this person is from us. Remembering Pentecost, however, let us think this way: How similar this person is to us—someone who needs Jesus and someone for whom the Lord Jesus lived, died, and rose again.
Lord, thank you for demonstrating your mercy and power on the day of Pentecost. Give me a heart that sees every person’s need to know about your mercy and your power. Amen.