Easter season provides an excellent opportunity to look at events that occurred 2,000 years ago, which ignited a movement that has changed the world. Events such as those that took place during Passion Week, Christ’s death on the cross and His resurrection, His appearance to the His disciples, and The Great Commission have deep meaning and rippling effects throughout the ages. Two other events I want to explore are Christ’s ascension and the coming of the Holy Spirit.
Christ’s ascension and last words to His disciples are recorded in Acts 1. Jesus announces the coming of the Holy Spirit. Jesus explains that in contrast to John’s baptism in water for the repentant, the baptism of the Holy Spirit brings purity and power. The disciples are expectant of a political kingdom like that of David. Jesus does not rebuke them nor deny that such a kingdom would come in the future. Rather, He diverted them from futile speculation over something which is entirely in the Father’s authority. The disciples’ responsibility was to prepare for the bestowment of inner power from God for witnessing.
The message that they will give witness to is about Jesus. They and we are to know God and make Him known. They and we are to make disciples. This was the last they were to see Christ, this side of paradise. Jesus ascends, and the disciples are left alone until His Spirit, the great Helper, comes on Pentecost.
As Jesus ascended, two men stood by in white apparel. The astonished disciples of Christ were told what was in store for the future. This same Jesus will return in like manner. It’s the promise of Christ’s return that sustains the hope of believers to this day.
The coming of the Holy Spirit is recorded for us in Acts 2. The events occurring on the Day of Pentecost were a necessary extension of Jesus’ ministry. On the cross, we have cleansing from sin. Through the resurrection, we have confirmation of Christ’s cleansing work and the prefiguring of our future resurrection. Christ’s ascension marks His departure until His bodily return. The Holy Spirit’s sending initiates the bestowing of what we need, to be who God has designed us to be (sanctification) and for what He has commanded us to do (ministry).
The meaning of Pentecost is God’s fulfilled promise to equip His church with the power of His Spirit so that they can glorify Him by knowing Him and making Him known. E. Stanley Jones noted: “”After the Pentecost, there was a quality and power in their (the disciples) witness that had not been there before. It was a byproduct. The witness they gave was a result of the witness they received the witness was a sense of God in immediate experience.” This is true for every believer since. When we come to Christ for salvation, surrendering ourselves to Him, we are inviting His Spirit to do the work of making us like Christ. As we continue in a life of surrender, the Spirit empowers us to partner in the continuing mission of Christ. We, like the disciples in Acts 2, give evidence to the Lord’s hand on our life in a new and fresh way every day.
The hope for believers in Christ is sealed by the Holy Spirit’s indwelling. It continues as they rely on Him to guide them in thought, word, and deed (see: Rom 6:11-14; 12:1-2). This is indeed a remarkable gift from God.
So, have you been set ablaze for Christ? Are you in Christ, walking in the Spirit? Are you part of the movement set ablaze at Pentecost nearly 2,000 years ago? God calls all of us to come to Jesus in faith, finding salvation (John 3:16). We are to walk with the Spirit in faith, each and every day (Rom 12:1-2; Gal 2:20). We are to live as everyday missionaries in our everyday mission field, being empowered to share our faith (Acts 1:8). How will you respond? Soli Deo Gloria (Glory to God Alone)!