Acts 1:8. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
Do we follow his words?
Let’s look at the scene in context, from the perspective of the disciples. Their leader comes back from the dead, and over the course of forty days shows them he is alive, and shares about the kingdom of heaven.
Then one day he takes them on a hike out of Jerusalem to Bethany, the other side of the Mount of Olives. He directs them to stay in Jerusalem until the Father provides them with His gift to them--the baptism of the Holy Spirit.
And how do they receive this news? They ask if now is when Jesus is going to restore the kingdom to Israel. Notice they don’t ask about the kingdom of God, but they are talking about a political kingdom, an earthly kingdom, usurping the Roman Empire, restoring Israel to the days when David was king.
How does Jesus respond? Don’t worry about the times or dates--instead, focus on waiting for the Holy Spirit, so with its power you can be witnesses not only in this city of Jerusalem, not only in the surrounding countrysides of Judea and Samaria, but all over the planet.
And then what happens? Before the disciples can ask him to elaborate, he is taken up right in front of them, a cloud hiding him from their sight. And like the rest of us would do, they aren’t heading back to Jerusalem, about two miles away.
They stay staring at the sky in Bethany, waiting for...what? Jesus to come back?
It takes two angels to snap them back into reality, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven?”
Where do we stand in this story? Are we stuck in time with the disciples as they watch Jesus ascend to sit at the right side of the Father, still staring into the sky, the proverbial heavens, needing angels to wake us up from our daydreaming? Do we have our focus on the Holy Spirit, and His guidance, or are we tapping our feet, waiting for Jesus to come back to us, thinking about what his kingdom should look like?
Jesus had other plans for the disciples, and for us as well. He asks us to keep our eyes on him by listening to the Holy Spirit. The same Spirit that conceived Jesus in Mary’s womb, who led Jesus into the wilderness to be tempted.
Do we realize we’ve received the power Jesus referred to, and we are already witnesses in Durham, Wake and Orange counties, and to the end of the earth? Are we willing to follow the Spirit that directed Jesus to proclaim good news to the poor, liberty to those who are oppressed? His Spirit is the breath of our spiritual life, the agent of our spiritual resurrection. Are we on board with enabling it to be the breath of spiritual life for the people in our neighborhood, the people we see when we are stopped in traffic, or shopping for groceries?
Do we trust the Holy Spirit to give us what we need to say in every circumstance, so it is not we who speak, but the Spirit of our Father speaking through us?
Jesus followed the Holy Spirit from birth through death and resurrection, and as he directed the disciples, he is calling us to be attentive to the Spirit. To rely on His Spirit as our guide.
The power we receive through the Holy Spirit is helping us in every situation, sanctifying us--making us set apart from our former life of self-importance to a life of Jesus-importance.
He is making us more like Christ, helping us to do the Father’s will, just as he helped Jesus throughout his life. The Holy Spirit fills us with God’s love, a love that buoys us with the hope of the Father.
The Holy Spirit comes in our weakness giving us the words to pray and teaches us, then reminds us of God’s wisdom to share with others, and to direct our lives.
I pray that we would commit ourselves each day to fellowship with the Holy Spirit, as Jesus did, and as Paul did, so we can live in the kingdom of God and bring others into it, a kingdom of righteousness, peace and joy.
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”