In the northern hemisphere spring is in the air. It seems like a fresh green mist covers the trees and bulging bulbs promise beauty and colour in expectation of the warmer days to come. Renewal is clear in the seasonal change. The season blooms in assurance of the promise of Genesis 8:22:
While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, winter and summer, and day and night shall not cease.
I live in Canada and we have the privilege to live close to a natural forest. Late summer last year, in September, we had an unexpected snowstorm. Within a few hours everything was white and the trees heavy with quite a few inches of snow. Some branches bent and some broke. One branch, high up in a tree behind the house, snapped but stayed attached to the tree. The leaves turned brown but did not fall off. A whole long Canadian winter later, the brown leaves are still hanging on that snapped branch.
It is only a living branch that rids itself of its dead leaves and prepare for the renewal of spring. The brown leaves on the branch are proof of its lifelessness, although it might look as if it still belongs to the tree.
Could we be part of the church of Christ, clothed in dead works that contrasts sharply with the powerful renewal of life in the promises of the Word? It is only with a full understanding of the work of the Holy Spirit that we will be renewed and our minds transformed.
We are remembering the exciting days of expectation after the resurrection. So often Jesus prepared His disciples for the dark days of His death, but they could never fully understand the true meaning of His words until they saw Him face to face. It is still true today. A powerful encounter with the risen Christ rids us of our dead works and fruitless mindset. The words of the Word are living in us to give us a complete makeover.
But, the moment of departure came. The words spoken in those last hours are super important. Jesus knew that He would never see them in the same circumstances again and the leave-taking would have been so shattering, was it not for His amazing farewell gift.
Listen closely to His words in Luke 24.
While they were still talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.”
37 They were startled and frightened, thinking they saw a ghost. 38 He said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds? 39 Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have.”
40 When he had said this, he showed them his hands and feet. 41 And while they still did not believe it because of joy and amazement, he asked them, “Do you have anything here to eat?” 42 They gave him a piece of broiled fish, 43 and he took it and ate it in their presence.
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.
Quite a few outstanding moments mark this short description of a remarkable occasion – probably the most memorable of that little group’s entire lives.
Jesus addresses their fear. He knows His glorified appearance is a supernatural and daunting experience. He emphasizes His words of before the crucifixion and brings them under the authority of the Scriptures. In His own words: This is what is written… You are witnesses of these things.
He does a miracle in their minds. He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures. He performs the miracle because it is necessary for an intervention of Jesus Himself to understand the Word of God. He would not have done it if it were not necessary. Jesus only performs miracles in great need. A miracle is never unnecessary. To be a witness of these things they needed a touch of glory, an anointment, and special insight. He unlocks the power of Himself in them to understand, to interpret and to speak.
But it not all. Is this not enough, you might ask? If Jesus says it is not finished, who are we to disagree. His words:
…but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.
These are the very last recorded words of Jesus. Sit up and pay attention. His Father promised Him the Holy Spirit so that He could dwell in His friends. God in them would empower them for the task that lay ahead to host His presence among the people. Why?
Jesus is not a paperdol-dress that we use as a front cover. We cannot cover our nakedness and shame, blindness and poverty with one-dimensional religious activities. He is the Source of all truth and goodness and only His presence can rid us of dead works. Legalism and prejudice will expose our shame and guilt like last season’s dead leaves, even if it appears attached to church. You are just like a snapped branch and have to be repropogated into the true Vine.
But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it. 26 In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words; 27 and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.
Henry Matthew Concise Commentary:
The Holy Spirit is the spring of all desires toward God, which are often more than words can utter. The Spirit who searches the hearts, can perceive the mind and will of the spirit, the renewed mind, and advocates his cause. The Spirit makes intercession to God, and the enemy prevails not
This explanation of the work of the Holy Spirit is the key to understanding transformation and a new mindset to welcome the full blessing of Pentecost. The disciples were frightened of Jesus in His glorified body and Peter was humiliated and full of shame. After Pentecost that same Peter preached 3000 people into the Kingdom convincing them to think anew, without circumcision, without Jewish ethnical requirements, without the blood of animals.
Peter’s words in Acts 2:37,38 and 41:
37 When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?”
38 Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.”
41 Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.
I have never attended a service where 3000 people were baptized. What a powerful ministry moment!
In the next chapter of Acts Peter speaks godly power-words to the lame man. Acts 3:1-10:
6 Then Peter said, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.”
Pebble pal, you belong to an Almighty God for Whom nothing is impossible. Sing the song of Moses in Exodus 15:11:
Who is like You, O Lord, among the gods? Who is like You, glorious in holiness, awesome in splendor, doing wonders?
Where are you at this moment? Are you comfortable in the knowledge of a miracle-working Father or hesitant and full of doubt, overwhelmed with need?
Pay close attention to Acts 2:39:
The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.”
It is you! Rejoice! The power that enabled Peter that day and all the days after, is available through the Holy Spirit to you and can change your life. Grab hold of this promise, free yourself of your prejudice and doctrines of man and incline your ear to the Word of God to truly hear. Ask for the full blessing with all the gifts of the Holy Spirit in 1 Corinthians 12. It is for everybody. Jesus promises that we will do greater works. [John 14:12]
I am certain everybody will agree that we need the full blessing of a wonderworking God in this day and age.
Be greatly blessed.