Hyok Kim
May 20, 2018
Hyok Kim

No media available


John 15:26-27, 16:4B-15; Acts 2:1-21


Genesis tells us that, at first, the people of the whole world had only one language and used the same words. After coming to a plain in Babylonia and settling there, they said, “Let’s build a city with a tower that reaches the sky, so that we can make a name for ourselves and not be scattered all over the earth.” Their universal human language, the gift of God, was not used for God’s glory, but for making a name for themselves, seeking their power, wealth, and security. Then, the Lord came down to see the city and the tower which they had built, and said, “Now then, these are all one people and they speak one language; this is just the beginning of what they are going to do. Soon they will be able to do anything they want.” Then, the Lord mixed up their language so that they would not understand each other, and from there he scattered them all over the earth (Gen. 11).

But, now the unifying power of the Holy Spirit empowers the people to speak a new language in unity with the Spirit, and a new language community begin when the Holy Spirit comes to rest upon the believers at Pentecost.  



Before his suffering and death, Jesus said to his disciples, “Now, I am going to the Father who sent me. But because I have said these things to you, your hearts are full of sadness and grief. But I am telling you the truth: it is better for you that I go away, because if I do not go, the Advocate will not come to you. But if I do go away, then I will send him to you” (John 16:5-7).

And the Book of Acts that we have read today tells us that, as Jesus promised, the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, descended upon the Twelve and the women and the disciples in the upper room in Jerusalem. Luke tells us that the disciples filled with the Holy Spirit began to speak in other than their native languages, and the people who came from every nation in the world were so amazed that they could hear the disciples speaking in their own languages.

“Are not all these people who are speaking Galileans? But, they speak not in Aramaic but in all the various languages. How do we hear them speaking in our own languages about the mighty acts of God?”  



God confounded a universal human language into many different languages so that they could not listen to and understand one another. But now, at Pentecost, the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of the language of God, came to rest upon the believers. The human divisions at the Tower of Babel now became overcame by the unifying power of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. 

However, the Holy Spirit is not to eliminate the difference among the people, among the nations, among the multiplicity of languages and cultures. He did not to make all alike. Instead, the Holy Spirit gives the believers the cosmic and divine language, the language of praise and joy, and the language of peace, justice, forgiveness, hope, and love. And, the Spirit empowers them to speak a new language, and then they become a new language community, God’s Church.  Jesus said to his disciple, “When he comes, he will prove to the people of the world that they are wrong about sin and about what is right and about God’s judgment. . . And when the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth” (John 16:8, 13).

The Spirit has come to rest upon us as the language of the truth about God, so that we know sin, righteousness, and judgement, so that we realize the world has gone wrong, and we should turn to God, giving up our language of self-centeredness, greed, hate, violence, fear, anxiety, discrimination, oppression, and domination.  



Jesus Christ is “our mother tongue” to hear God and speak to him, which has come in the flesh (from ‘Our mother tongue’, a prayer of Walter Brueggemann).

Jesus Christ is the Word of God, and God’s language which has been given to us as God’s gift so that we could hear and speak to God in His language, and we could have intimate relationship with God through His language. He is our true language on our lips to praise and worship God the Creator. He is our true language to learn and to speak about what God has done in Christ, and to practice in our daily living, and also to teach and share with others.

At Pentecost, as God the Father had sent him to the world, Jesus Christ sent the Holy Spirit who enabled the believers to speak the mother tongue in many languages and to translate into many different cultures, so that all the people on earth could hear the great things that God has done. Jesus Christ is our language of faith, hope, and love for the church to speak. Jesus Christ is the language of forgiveness, peace, reconciliation, and justice for the church to practice. Jesus Christ is our mother tongue for the church to translate into many different languages so that the gospel of God should be heard and understood to the whole nations. At Pentecost, the Spirit transforms the human languages of hate, violence, greed, self-centeredness, into the language of faith, hope, and love, and the language of forgiveness, peace, justice, and reconciliation.

The unifying power of the Spirit is not to make all differences alike or to eliminate all differences or to speak in one language, but to transform the human languages to make a name for ourselves into the language of praise and worship God, and to transforms the language of dominion over others into the language of humility and servanthood. To be witnesses to Jesus Christ, to go and make disciples of all nations, and to proclaim the gospel of Christ is to be faithful to the message of the gospel, understanding the diversity and respecting difference and willing to speak in other than our own language.  



Jesus Christ is the language for the church to learn, serve, and love others, not to rule over others. Jesus Christ is the language for the church to praise and worship God the Father. Jesus Christ is the language for the church to hear and speak to one another. And, our human languages should resemble the language of God, Jesus Christ, our mother tongue, be his language.

Apostle Paul said in his letter to Ephesians, “I therefore beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all” (Ephesians 5:1-6). And one Word, one Gospel, and one mother tongue.

The oneness, the unity, however, does not mean to exclude our differences. Our different languages, cultures, histories, ethnics, and gender become a place where we come to meet God and his people to share the gospel of Christ. The church and the believers filled with the Holy Spirit to speak and hear in the languages of the poor, the marginalized, the weak, the abandoned, and the stranger, become a witness to Christ, and become a faithful translator of our mother tongue for them. We all are called to be a language of faith, hope, love, justice, peace, and truth for the world, and to be a language for the poor, for the marginalized, and for the stranger, who have lost their voices.

Let us practice Pentecost in our daily living. Let us be a language of Jesus Christ to the world just as He has come in the flesh as the language of God the Father. Let us bless the Lord who has made the garden rich with many different flowers and colors and shapes. Let us bless the Lord who has mad the church rich with our differences and diversity. Amen.