by Craig Heidenreich
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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).
Read Luke 24:44–53
In Luke’s account of Jesus’ ascension, these are the last recorded words of Jesus, and (for me) this gives his statement a certain gravitas. Jesus’ final instruction carries weight.
Shortly before (in John 16:7), Jesus talks to his disciples about how he will shortly be leaving them, and he says, ‘It’s better that I go because then I will send you the Holy Spirit’.
So finally (a few short weeks later), the day has come when Jesus ascends into heaven.
I think if I were one of the disciples that day, I would find it hard to be happy that Jesus has just left, anticipating something better. What can possibly fill the gap left behind now that Jesus is no longer here in person?
This question was answered dramatically ten days later on the day of Pentecost. The promised Spirit comes, and the church is birthed!
Pentecost is celebrated in our Christian calendar as the ‘birthday of the church’, but Pentecost was already a special day in the Jewish calendar. Pentecost was the celebration of the giving of the law on Mt Sinai (fifty days after Passover). Did God choose this day to write the law on our hearts by the power of the Holy Spirit?
Pentecost ushered in a pretty dramatic change for the disciples, and they became people marked by joy and boldness. The same men and women who hid in the upper room (for fear of the Jews) were so filled with joy that they were irrepressible.
So, was the promise that the Spirit was going to clothe them with power from on high just an experience for these early believers?
There has been much debate about this and how we are affected by the Holy Spirit. One thing that is obvious is that we cannot live effectively by our own strength – we certainly need some power from on high.
When Paul talks about being filled with the Spirit in Ephesians, Greek scholars point out the sense that this means to be continually filled. This is not a one-off experience but a daily replenishment. As someone once said, ‘I may be filled with the Spirit, but I have a tendency to leak’. Let’s stay topped up!
Thank you, Lord, for sending the Spirit to clothe us with power from on high. I need this so much, Lord, and I drink you in today. Help me to live a life pleasing to you!
Craig really enjoys making friends with people from other countries and trying to learn a few words of greeting in their languages. He says it’s fun to see the joy on a person’s face when they hear their mother tongue. When he has some spare time, he’s happy renovating the home he and his wife recently purchased in Kapunda, South Australia.