Waiting for Power

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Introduction:

We don’t like to wait. I don’t think that it is purely an American thing but if you have ever traveled outside the country to Europe or another industrialized nation, you may have experienced a pace of life that is much slower. American’s are known to be in a rush. We like down time but we don’t have time for it, we like vacation and need one but don’t have time for it, and we certainly don’t have time to wait in line for longer than a minute – especially when someone is in front of us taking an extra amount of unnecessary time.

Throughout the gospels, we see that the disciples are a little preoccupied with time. They are constantly wanting to rush around and get to the end – the conclusion.

Even as we have journeyed through Lent and Eastertide and we are coming to the moment of Pentecost next week, Jesus is still beckoning His devout disciples to wait, to slow down, and pause.

That is where we pick up in scripture this morning:

Luke 24:44-53 (NIV)
44 He said to them, “This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets, and the Psalms.”

45 Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. 46 He told them, “This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, 47 and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things. 49 I am going to send you what my Father has promised, but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.” 50 When he had led them out to the vicinity of Bethany, he lifted up his hands and blessed them. 51 While he was blessing them, he left them and was taken up into heaven. 52 Then they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy. 53 And they stayed continually at the temple, praising God.

Movement 1:

Jesus suffered and rose from the grave and He has spent 40 days appearing to his disciples and to others as the risen Christ, speaking of the Kingdom of God.

Jesus has been preparing his followers for this day – the day in which they would see him on the earth for the last time. As Jesus prepares for His ascension into heaven, He gives his final endowment.

There are few things I want to draw our attention to this morning in this passage from Luke 24:

  • 45 “Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures” is equivalent to John 20:22 (NIV) 22 “And with that, he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” When we remember that inspiration means “in-breathed” we see that Jesus was giving the disciples the inspiration necessary to understand the Scriptures.
  • The disciples were witnesses to the acts of Jesus and the hearing of His words and He had given them the gift of interpreting the Scriptures by the “in-breathing” of Christ.
  • After Pentecost, they would have the required purity and power.
  • “You are my witnesses”. Christ was depending on His disciples to carry His message – this divinely appointed mission. They were to carry it first to Jerusalem – then to the surrounding areas and to the ends of the world. Acts 1:8 – 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
  • But in this moment there was a caveat – they must wait for 10 days. Verse 49, “but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high”. This divine command superseded the divine commission. Acts 1:4-5 4 …he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. 5 For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”
  • Until they received their Pentecost – the power of the Holy Spirit – they were not qualified to carry out the commission.

Movement 2:

If I were one of the disciples I would probably be impatient. After all that they have been through and still more waiting? Really Jesus? Can we just get on with it now?

It’s a good thing that Jesus is a patient man because, in this final earthly exchange with those who he has invested so much in, they still seem to not quite get it. Acts 1:6 – 6 Then they gathered around him and asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” 7

There are two important things to note here. First, Jesus is not going to just restore the kingdom to Israel. Christ came to restore the Kingdom to all peoples. Acts 1:8 – 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

And second, they are trying to push to know the timeline (Lord, at this time?). But Christ gently reminds them that the timeline is not to be of their concern. The disciples were to continue to be faithful to His leading and to wait as he instructs.

Conclusion:

Just as “The disciples have argued loudly and frequently about who among them was the greatest. They have dreamed of places of power at the right & left of King Jesus’ throne. They have never quite grasped that the kingdom that has drawn near in Christ is utterly different from the kingdoms of this world. Jesus is not perturbed about this. He knows that the Spirit of truth will be an effective teacher in the lives of his followers. And that Spirit is coming soon.

The disciples are interested in power and they’re about to receive it. But the power that the Holy Spirit will bring is not the power of a political regime. Rather, it will be power to bear witness to Christ, starting at home, in Jerusalem and Judea, and extending outward to Samaria and the ends of the earth. The first disciples’ confusion about the nature of the kingdom is repeated often in the history of the church, right down to the present day. In every age, we need to listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches. The Spirit, like the wind, “blows where it chooses,” said Jesus. The Spirit comes to liberate us from false understandings that would confine God’s saving activity to our places, our people, our polity. Left to ourselves, we sabotage the Spirit’s work by our closedmindedness, denominationalism, nationalism or any “ism” that lifts human agency above God’s power. But “where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” (2 Cor. 3:17) No wonder Jesus told his disciples not to make a move until they had received the Holy Spirit.” Rick Power

Response:

The disciples could not know Christ fully without him going away and sending the Holy Spirit. John 16:7 – “Unless I go away the Advocate will not come”.

Christ left heaven for our sake and through the ascension makes himself available to us. Christ ascends to be seated at the right hand of God the Father and through the ascension, Christ makes himself available to all centuries and not just the first century.

He is not leaving our world but if we let Him go, if we let Him ascend, we will have access to an even stronger relationship with Christ. The Holy Spirit will reveal Christ to us. We can only know Jesus fully through the power of the Holy Spirit – and we can, through the Holy Spirit, know Christ more fully than when he walked the earth.

If we will let go, listen to the leading of Christ and wait in eager expectation of what He desires for us to do, not in our own power or through our own avenues of politics, money, or denomination, but in the power of Christ through the Holy Spirit, we can live out Christ’s mission in the world.

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