When Tongues Speak

Jonathan Brownson

READ : Acts 2:1-13

. . . each one was hearing them speak in his own language. (v. 6)

Looking out over our congregation one Sunday, I saw a Laotian single parent who needed
work done on her house. I saw a Spanish-speaking mother who had lost her 17-year-old son.
I saw a Navajo Native American who was looking for a job. As I stood up to preach, I
wondered, “How can one sermon help three such different people, each with such different

No single human being can speak every language of the world. Still, when the disciples
spoke on the day of Pentecost, Parthians, Medes, and Elamites, residents of Mesopotamia,
Judea, Cappodocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and parts of Libya near
Cyrene, Cretans and Arabs all heard them declaring God’s mighty saving acts in their own
language. This is because when the Holy Spirit speaks, he does what we cannot. The Spirit
translates in a way that gets into every ear and every heart.

We live in a world full of people with different cultures, different needs, and
different ways of understanding life. Sharing the good news of Jesus Christ can be
intimidating in this context. But the same Holy Spirit that came on Pentecost is available
to us today. For Jesus, “being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having
received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you
yourselves are seeing and hearing” (v. 33).


Lord Jesus, continue to pour out your Spirit on your church, and on me, so that all may hear and believe.