Thursday, May 10, 2018
The Promise of the Father
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.
The disciples were with Jesus, discussing the future and curious about what was to happen next. They still seemed to be hoping for some kind of a political kingdom, but Jesus gave them a different promise. First of all, he told them that God’s timing is just that, God’s timing, but then he went on to tell them that he had a promised gift for them. They had no understanding what this might be but Jesus was speaking of the Holy Spirit. The kingdom was to become a reality in the lives of Spirit-filled followers of Christ who would then be able to take the good news to the entire world. The vision was much larger than simply the nation of Israel. In their wildest imaginations they could not have envisioned the future that Jesus had in store.
Today is ascension day, a time when we stop and recall that day when Jesus left the disciples and went away into heaven. As I re-read this passage I thought about where I might find myself. I think that sometimes we live our Christian lives just like those disciples on that day; standing and staring into heaven and wondering when Jesus is going to do something. The problem is that Jesus had already promised that he would do something and that had to do with the promise of the Father.
The Holy Spirit would only be poured out on those who obediently went to Jerusalem and waited. They had no idea what that really meant, nor did they know how long it would take, but they obediently went and tarried.
If we stand waiting on the mountain we will miss out on the promise the Father has for us as well. Life on the mountain is powerless and awaits a political victory for God’s followers. It can be a depressing and lonely existence. This life can become obsessed with dates and predictions about the future. Worry and fret can overwhelm and walls of safety are built to protect those who are staring up into heaven waiting for Christ to return.
The promise of the Father means that we are to leave the mountain. There is no need to concern oneself about future predictions or dates because we know the Father has all of that under control. Instead, we are to tarry, spending time in prayer and giving space for the Holy Spirit to fill every part of our being. Then, empowered by the Holy Spirit we live without worry or fear, and go out into all the world to share the good news of Jesus. The Spirit moves beyond every barrier that humanity can erect. This becomes an exciting and energized life, moving through the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
We have a choice. We can fearfully wait on the mountain, or we can join the disciples in Jerusalem, on our knees in prayer, awaiting the empowering of the Holy Spirit for Christ’s mission in the world. I choose Jerusalem!
Lord, send your Spirit and fill us to overflowing. Amen.