“And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.” (Acts 2:4)
On Pentecost one of the great manifestations of the Holy Spirit was miraculous speaking in tongues. This was evidence of the presence of the Holy Spirit who was empowering the disciples to go forth and preach the gospel in obedience to Christ’s command. They had to speak other languages in order to preach to all peoples. And so, at Pentecost, the Lord began the reversal of the curse of Babel (Genesis 11), the curse of human alienation, prejudice and disharmony. At Babel humans came together to achieve glory for themselves in manmade religion and works of the flesh, all apart from God. Now in the Church the Lord is bringing together people from all nations and languages. Now in Christ all can be one once again united by the Holy Spirit and a common faith, not by their own works, not by government and law, nor by religious deeds, but by the work of Jesus on the cross.
Pentecost is the Feast of first fruits. It marks the beginning of God’s greatest outpouring of grace. Thus the message of Pentecost is the message of grace; God’s unmerited favor, His righteousness and mercy given to those who do not deserve it.
Grace stands in contrast to God’s law. Law condemns. It shows us our sins, where we fall short. But by God’s grace, law shows us our need for God’s mercy, our need for Jesus and His atoning sacrifice. Law does not eliminate sin. It may curb and limit it, but it cannot make us more righteous. Law can influence outward behavior, but only the Spirit of God can change the heart. He makes us righteous. Then He can use us as His instruments of grace, to extend His mercy and unconditional love to every individual on earth.