Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard their own language being spoken. Utterly amazed, they asked: “Aren’t all these who are speaking Galileans? Then how is it that each of us hears them in our native language? (Acts 2:5-8)
The ability to communicate is an essential need not only of humans, but of many other creatures on earth as well. It is also assumed that if aliens exist, then we will need to communicate with them too, as shown by the wide variety of translation mechanisms in the worlds of science fiction. From the TARDIS’s Translation Circuit to Star Trek’s aptly-named Universal Translator to the Babel fish from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, people always want to be able to understand what is being said around them, and the ability to overcome barriers to communication is generally seen as a good thing.
Fifty days after the first Easter, God had a message that needed to be communicated to the world, but there was not a translation device to be found. Fortunately, no technology was needed - just the Holy Spirit, coming down in the most spectacular, fiery way. When the flames settled on those that were gathered, they received not only the ability to go out and spread the good news, but also just the right words to say, in just the right language for each person within earshot to be able to understand clearly.
Technology today has advanced to the point where there are few barriers to communication any more - not even time and distance. We can send out whatever messages we want to whomever we want to hear them, and chances are it will arrive virtually instantaneously. It is usually not impossible to find some way to get a message across language barriers, either. God’s message still needs to be communicated to the world; may the Spirit enable us to use our resources wisely to send it to the ears that need to hear it.