Looking Toward Pentecost: Return to Jerusalem

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Following His resurrection, Jesus made several appearances to His disciples and to a multitude of at least 500 people. We studied those, allowing God’s Word to penetrate into each of our lives in Jesus’ First Appearances, Jesus and His Disciples at the Sea of Galilee and Jesus Appears to the Masses.

Those appearances were not only proof of Jesus’ resurrection, but also important building blocks toward Pentecost that took place a few weeks later. Jesus was about to ascend into heaven, and He had plenty of “last words” to share before that glorious event. He returned to Jerusalem, from where He would ultimately ascend, and that is where we pick up the Biblical narrative today.

The Gospels Luke provides the most detail of Jesus’ appearances before His ascension into heaven. Let’s examine Luke 24:44-48. Go ahead and read that passage.

There, Jesus Himself stated that all things about Him written in the Law, the Prophets and the Psalms MUST be fulfilled, and that He opened their minds to understand. Do you realize He does the same for you and me? Is there something about Jesus you don’t understand? His love…His justice…His grace and mercy…His comfort and peace? Have you dug into His Word, and have you opened your ears and your mind to understand? He promises to make Himself known to you!

Jesus went on to say that, because of His death, burial and resurrection, forgiveness through repentance would begin from Jerusalem (verses 46-47). His Name would be proclaimed and they were witnesses! Then, He told them something interesting:

I am sending forth the promise of My Father upon you; but you are to stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.

~Luke 24:49

Has Jesus ever revealed Himself to you in a special way, only to ask you to wait for His timing before you act? Can you imagine the disciples’ thoughts? They were finally catching on to that “resurrection” thing (because of His appearances), as Jesus is now enlightening them to His fulfillment of the Law, Prophets and Psalms. I’m sure the lights were going on in some ways. Can you imagine wanting to go out and share the wonderful things they were learning? Have you ever been in that place? While it is exciting to experience the presence of the Lord, we can become very anxious to go out and spread the news. Yet, at times, God says, “Wait!”

Stop and recall a time the Lord gave you direction but said, “Wait!” How did you feel and what did you think? Could it be He was preparing to empower you at just the right time?

What was this “power from on high” for which they were to wait? Acts 1:1-8 answers that question! The foundation is laid in verses 1-3, by the author of Acts, which happens to be Luke! With the background we have already read from the book of Luke, it appears he is summarizing: Jesus appeared and spoke to His disciples in those days leading up to Pentecost, telling them about the Kingdom of God.

Then, he gets down to business in verses 4-5 to explain why Jesus had commanded His disciples to wait in Jerusalem for power from on high. Here, Jesus tells them they will be baptized with the Holy Spirit…the power from on high! Verses 6-7 indicate they were still a little confused, but then Jesus announces the mission He has called them to fulfill:

…you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.

~Acts 1:8

To every believer, Jesus promises power from on high, the power of the Holy Spirit. In the Old Testament, the Holy Spirit visited people, but sometimes departed. (Psalm 51:11) Before Jesus ascended, He told us He would leave us a Helper, and Scripture teaches that the Holy Spirit is “with” us (John 14:16-17), “in” us (John 20:22, Ephesians 1:13), and “upon” us (Acts 1:8).

We are, indeed, endowed with power…but do we tap into it? How often do we feel powerless? How often do our prayers seem to bounce off the ceiling, landing in our lap rather than in the ears of our Redeeming Savior? Do you ever feel defeated in this world?

Jesus appeared. He spoke truth. Then He left.

But friends, we have two sources from which to draw life! God gave us His Word, and He sent the Holy Spirit to empower us! John 1:1 tells us that God and His Word are one in the same. Then, even more miraculously, verse 14 of that chapter tells us the Word became flesh and dwelt among us! That is Jesus! He makes His home in us as the Holy Spirit! Our three-in-one God demonstrated power from the get go!

Aren’t you glad Jesus made human appearances before sending the Holy Spirit? It was through the eyes and pens of His followers that we have the New Testament, revealing to us God’s glory and His ability to make us one with Him!

Stop and praise God for the work of the Holy Spirit in your life, and ask Him to send more power! Then, as you read His Word, watch that power come alive!

We’re not done yet, my friends. Meet me back here tomorrow morning as we look at Jesus’ final appearance!

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