We are meditating on the appearances of Jesus to the disciples after His resurrection. Before ascending to heaven, Jesus gave them specific instructions about the time of waiting. “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” (Luke 24:49). Why did they have to wait forty-seven days from the resurrection until the Day of Pentecost? What was the purpose of waiting?
The period of waiting was crucial to their empowerment, i.e., being clothed with the Holy Spirit. Often, we seek to go in our own strength and do not wait for God's power and leadership. A.B Simpson, the Christian and Missionary Alliance founder, has interesting words about waiting until we are clothed or filled with the Spirit. He said, “These waiting days were necessary to enable the disciples to realize their need, their nothingness, their failure, and their dependence upon the Master. They had to get emptied first before they would get filled." Today, we need to heed those wise words more than ever, for, without Christ, we can do nothing of eternal value (John 15:5).
Luke wrote that Jesus appeared again and again to them over forty days after His suffering:
After his suffering, he presented himself to them and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God (Acts 1:3).
What was God doing in the lives of the early disciples in those forty days before the Spirit came on the Day of Pentecost? He was strengthening their faith and teaching them about the kingdom of God. We must be emptied of self and be right with God and others before being filled with the Spirit. When the Day of Pentecost came, they were completely ready and abandoned to God's work, experiencing great unity and being in one accord with one another: "And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place” (Acts 2:1 KJV). The Holy Spirit filled or baptized them, dipping them into Himself, soaking and saturating them with His presence.
The time of waiting upon the Lord created a thirst that could only be quenched by God the Holy Spirit Himself. They were in a place of dependence on the Spirit because Jesus left them and ascended to the Father seven days before the Day of Pentecost (Acts 1:3). The eleven disciples were not supermen. They were just like you and me. They needed God’s Spirit to accomplish the task of taking the message to others. Dedication and dependence on God working through them by His Spirit enabled them to complete their mission. It is no different for us.
In Acts 1:4, Luke recalls Jesus’ saying, “Wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about.” If the promised Holy Spirit is sent as a gift, why would we not want to receive Him and all He wants to do in us and through us? Some doubt that God will give them the Holy Spirit. Why would God not give the One that He has promised? Does God ever hold back on His giving? “He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things” (Romans 8:32). Of one thing I am sure: when God gives a gift with a promise, the least we should do is to receive what He wants to give! We receive Christ by faith, and when we do, the Spirit takes up residence in our lives. If you are a Christian, you have the Spirit: “And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ” (Romans 8:9). If you believe and trust wholly in what Christ has accomplished for you, you have the Holy Spirit. The most important thing is, does the Holy Spirit have you? Have you entirely abandoned your life to Christ? Does He have ownership of your life? Keith Thomas.
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Taken from the series on the Gospel of Luke, study 66: Jesus Appears to the Disciples