Acts 1:8-11 NIV “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.” After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight. They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.”
Luke, the author of Acts, also records the Ascension in Luke 24:50-53 NIV where he states:
” When he had led them out to the vicinity of Bethany, he lifted up his hands and blessed them. While he was blessing them, he left them and was taken up into heaven. Then they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy. And they stayed continually at the temple, praising God.“
So Jesus’s ascension back to the Father took place at the end of the 40 days where He appeared to the disciples as noted in Acts 1:1-3 NIV “In my former book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach until the day he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles he had chosen. 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.“
And what a forty days that must have been!
We have the extreme exaltation of witnessing that Jesus had indeed risen from the dead, the numerous appearances of Jesus, along with Bible studies like no other. Luke 24:45-47 NIV tells us “Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. He told them, “This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.” Then, as if that wasn’t enough, Jesus ascends up into the clouds right before their very own eyes.
I can’t help but think how that would have affected me, had I been there. The fact that they worshiped Jesus and returned to Jerusalem with great joy and were continually at the temple praising God, would seem to me, to probably be a bit of an understatement. I would think that it would probably be difficult for one to contain one’s self with the sheer joy and wonder of what they had just been witness to.
I don’t know about you but it bothers me that I don’t have that sheer exuberant joy bubbling up inside of me that I can just imagine that the Apostles and disciples of Jesus obviously had.
If I put myself in their place, it would seem to me that I would have a hard time containing myself. But evidently, even with that joy that they obviously had, Jesus told them to wait in Jerusalem for the promise of the Holy Spirit so that they would receive power to witness on His behalf (Luke 24:49 NIV)
Obviously Jesus knows something that I don’t fully appreciate. Exuberant joy is an emotion and our emotions can change because emotions are subject to a wide spectrum of variables. I have never seen Jesus. I never got to witness any of these things. But Jesus told the disciples that it was necessary for Him to return to the Father so that the promised Holy Spirit could be given to those who believe. (John 16:7 NIV) Matter of fact, Jesus said it was necessary that He returned to the Father so that the Advocate could be sent to us and be in us.
The promised indwelling of the Holy Spirit.
I’ve tasted what He can do. I’ve seen and experienced His power and He is simply awesome. When God empowers you to speak, it becomes more difficult not to speak rather than speaking. There are no limits to what He can do. He always magnifies Jesus, always. It is God doing a work literally through you. He does it all, the words flow, there is no mental work involved. It’s like a tap being turned on and then turned off. Problem being, that particular type of God empowered work appears to be rare, at least in me. But there are other manifestations of His presence, the fruit of the Spirit, where God provides the love flowing through you to another, or a witness, or God’s presence etc. Different levels of intensity, different purposes. I’m no great authority on this, I’ve only tasted. But I know enough to know that God’s Holy Spirit dwells within me and most importantly, many other believers.
I am also mindful of what the Apostle Paul indicated he had endured. I’m pretty sure there wasn’t too much joy involved in the punishment that was dished out to Paul, yet in spite of the pain and the trials he endured, as Paul noted, when he was weak, then was he strong because the Spirit of Christ dwelled within him. I’m kind of thinking you’d have to be there, as many Christians throughout the ages, including our own, can testify.
Would I like to experience sheer joy all the time? I’m pretty sure you already know the answer to that one. That will be coming when we literally dwell in God’s presence. I’ve tasted that too and no, I did not want to leave, no one would, ever. All I was given was a taste and I am so thankful for that.
I obviously don’t understand it all but I do know what God says in His Word is real and that it is the way that it is supposed to be because God says it works this way. My faith and trust is in Jesus because God our Father also says that is the way that it is. Only God, through His Son, could do, and did, for us, what we in ourselves, could never do. Everything I read in the Bible tells me this is true and the Holy Spirit of God within me validates this truth.
Sometimes I have a hard time fully comprehending that He would care enough to save me, but I figure I’m probably not alone there either.
Worthy is the Lamb! Blessings!