The Promise of the Holy Spirit
In the first book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus did and taught from the beginning until the day when he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom he had chosen. After his suffering he presented himself alive to them by many convincing proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God. While staying with them, he ordered them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait there for the promise of the Father. “This,” he said, “is what you have heard from me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”
The Ascension of Jesus:1
So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, is this the time when you will restore the kingdom to Israel?” He replied, “It is not for you to know the times or periods that the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” When he had said this, as they were watching, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. While he was going and they were gazing up toward heaven, suddenly two men in white robes stood by them. They said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up toward heaven? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.” “
I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, and for this reason I do not cease to give thanks for you as I remember you in my prayers. I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation as you come to know him, so that, with the eyes of your heart enlightened, you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance among the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power for us who believe, according to the working of his great power. God put this power to work in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the age to come. And he has put all things under his feet and has made him the head over all things for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.
Can I get a witness?
I know of only one story we have in the gospels where Jesus taught that it was better to sit and receive than to serve. [^1]. Almost everywhere else, His disciples were on the move. In fact, He sent them out specifically to do all the things He was doing Himself, even before His death. Ministry with Jesus involved a lot of hard work!
Jesus had an incredible way of allowing His disciples to serve in important ways that matched their gifting, without burning them out. You would think, after 3 years on the road, they would have been ready for a break. Instead, that day they all marched into Jerusalem was One of their most exciting days of all! In our society, where it is a major feat to keep employees who only work 40 hours a week, this feat seems miraculous. How did Jesus be the perfect boss to every single person that came to work for Him?
Wall, first of all, Jesus was not a boss, He was a king. More specifically, He was a shepherding king as opposed to a ruler in the worldly sense. He loved His people. They were not just workers to be used. But He did not confuse His love of people for His sense of mission. Instead, Jesus insisted on His mission because He knew inviting them into that mission was the best way to love them.
You see, that mission was more than just paying a debt for us. It was a restoration, or perhaps a redemption of covenant between us and God. The “Kingdom” Jesus was establishing was not about geographical boundaries, it was about relational ones. Jesus was putting the band back together because the world was missing the music we all make with God. Jesus knew what that could sound like, but He also knew fear would hold us back so long as He kept standing between us and God. His job as mediator of this covenant was to bring us together, not to stand between us. He knew, for the mission to succeed, He would have to leave.
Paul know that feeling too. Ephesus was one of the few places that really accepted and appreciated him. But he had heard that same music that Jesus heard and knew for the church to grow, he would have to move on. Like the conductor of an orchestra, Jesus and Paul knew they had the important role of leading the music without making a sound.
I believe it all comes down to this: We are witnesses before, and after, everything else we may do for God. Before we know how to preach and teach, serve and give, we show and tell others about our covenant relationship with God by our words and deeds.
How are you sharing a witness of God’s love today?
How are you helping others see the beauty of who they could be with God?
- I suspet this teaching may have been included in Luke in order to create a better sense of balance between serving and spending time with Jesus in ministry, not to exclude one or the other. ↩