How long can you wait? How much do you enjoy waiting? Most of us score poorly on assessments of our capacity to patiently wait. I smiled yesterday when I saw a medical vehicle with the words ‘Patient Transfer’ painted on the side. Hmm, I thought. Too bad that wasn’t Patience Transfer!
One of the last instructions of Jesus to His disciples commanded waiting, as He urged them, “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift…” (Acts 1:4)
How did this respond to this instruction? “…they returned to Jerusalem…” (Acts 1:12) and they began to wait.
The wait really wasn’t that long. Jesus died at Passover season. He appeared “with many convincing proofs over a period of forty days….” and then the Spirit of God was given (the ‘gift’) on the Day of Pentecost, ten further days into the lives of these devoted followers.
“When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place.”
What had they been doing? Waiting. How did they fill their days? With prayer. With Scripture reflections. Such a simple agenda for each day. 1) Hear from God – (Scripture) 2) Talk to God – (Prayer). Aren’t these the core Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian life?
The additional truth that they were ‘all together in one place’ evidenced at least an external unity, which would soon be affirmed by internal unity, something the Spirit of God alone truly produces. Ephesians 4:3 urges the church in the 1st century and by application the church in the 21st century to “Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” – an exhortation sadly ignored by many gatherings of God’s people.
It was time for the gift to be given–the gift of the Holy Spirit–given as ‘another Helper’ to be with the followers of Christ forever. This initial giving on the ‘birthday’ of the church came with spectacular ‘packaging.’
a) a sound like the blowing of a violent wind–filling the whole house where they were sitting.
b) tongues of fire which separated (from the one flame) and came to rest on each of them.
Wind? Fire? External, visible symbols of the presence and power of the Holy Spirit.
c) a filling of the Holy Spirit for all the believers, evidenced in capacity to speak in unknown, recognizable languages with a gospel clarity and power in their first assignment to witness to Jesus.
Don’t forget Acts 1 as you read Acts 2. “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you and you will be my witnesses in JERUSALEM…”
Power – Holy Spirit power – for speaking of Jesus Christ to others – in their local community.
Isn’t that what all Christ followers require today?
There is no reason to be powerless unless we are cut off from the source of power because of our own sinful conduct.
This power is not just for ‘super saints’ but for all those who have trusted in Jesus Christ.
This ‘initial launch’ of the church was accompanied by supernatural signs and wonders. The foundation of the church was being established. God had come in the person of the Holy Spirit. He had come to stay. The wait was over.
We don’t need to wait for such power. We are commanded to be ‘filled with the Holy Spirit’ to be yielded to Jesus Christ and to seek to have our lives and lips speak of Him.
“Father, empower us by your Spirit to be Christ’s ambassadors today. May others see Jesus in us. May we declare the wonders of God with our tongues, as You, by Your Spirit equip us. Amen”