Pentecost is almost on us. We can sense the entrance of the Holy Spirit in the wings of our theatre, but first there is one final Act from Jesus.
He’s beaten Death by rising from the grave and taken our Sin on Himself. Now we need to get into action.
But He doesn’t say that.
What Jesus does is leave. And the Saviour of the World tells his most trusted followers to…
Surely He meant “GO!” or “ATTACK!”
No. He said “Wait” so the disciples must wait. They waited three days, the “sign of Jonah” Jesus had mentioned in his talking to them earlier. Then they saw the Risen Jesus. And they hung out with Him, walking, eating and chatting like the friends they are. Now He’s leaving them – again.
He’d told them He would be going. He prepared them from John 14 through John 17 about it in fact. So they wait. They go back to the same upper room where six weeks before they’d had a Passover Feast with Jesus and wait. There’s no confusion this time though. This is waiting for something that the Risen Christ has told them is coming. The Power of the Holy Spirit.
How frustrating must the next 40 days have been for them though! They know, really know, that Jesus is sending them something so much more than having Him with them physically. They realise now that all the Old Testament Prophets would have given up everything they ever saw for a mere taste of what they are going to receive.
But hours turn into days turn into weeks. I wonder if any of them walked out? We know the remaining 11 didn’t, but there were 120 on the day of Pentecost. Were there more who tired of waiting and left? We don’t know, but it’s human nature for many of us. We don’t like to wait for things. Especially good things. If we know something good is coming we get impatient. Like a child on Christmas Eve. I found out about Santa when I was little by waking up too early – and seeing my dad leaving the room and the presents on the bed. Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoyed the presents, and I didn’t tell my little brother, but something of the magic left. I got impatient and wouldn’t wait.
So now the disciples have to make their choice. How long do they wait? I wonder if they got back and expected it that day? Did they get despondent by day 35? It would be natural. Is it ever going to change? Like waiting for winter to lose its grip. But wait they do. And then on Pentecost tongues of Fire, the Holy Spirit in such power they can’t stand – literally. And the Power to touch hearts and minds with the Truth of Jesus and to hand on the gift He’d left and they had now finally received.
My wife spent 2 days in ICU this week. I didn’t know if she’d live following problems with some medication she’d taken. I prayed and felt God say she’d be home.
It was a good promise – and although I have to still look out for recurrences she’s home and should be ok. But the waiting to see the promise I’d heard from God in reality – my wife back home – was torture even though the promise was good.
It gave me a chance to reflect on what the disciples may have felt in the days between Ascension and Pentecost. On a very much smaller scale. (And I reflected after she got home)
If we are to hold heroes as Christians, it needs to be the disciples during those 40 days. They hold fast to a promise despite not seeing it. Even Daniel only had to wait 21 days in Daniel 10. Surely Peter must have been scratching his beard with frustration, but he held the course and preached the first sermon after the Baptism of the Holy Spirit and thousands believed. He saw the cripple dance. His shadow held the same healing power Jesus had held.
So if you’re waiting on a promise from God, keep strong.