IN THE POWER OF THE HOLY SPIRIT (Acts1:8; John 21:20-25; 1:32-34; 4:24; 20:22; 14:5-21; 16:5-16; 21:20-25; Revelation 1:10)
Andrew and I, John Zebedee, we were present when the Baptizer identified the dove that had descended on Jesus while He emerged from the water as the Holy Spirit. In due time, we would learn that God was Spirit and Jesus, the Man, was endowed with that Spirit. In Jesus, God was with us and Jesus could and did pass on that Spirit to all of His followers. He immersed us in the Spirit similar to being immersed in water. He, Himself, lived and worked in the power of the Spirit. We were not instantly impacted by the idea that there was a world of the Spirit and a Kingdom that was not of this world. Like Nicodemus, we did not immediately grasp how the Spirit of God could work in us and through us. It would be some time and a number of miracles before we were ready to become instruments of the Spirit. The first among us was Simon Peter, who was touched by the Spirit of God and was able to identify Jesus as the Son of God for us. The rest of us were endowed with the Spirit of Christ after He arose from the grave.
James, my brother, and I were the thunder boys that became loving and forgiving disciples. We aspired to run the Kingdom with Jesus at His side and stopped those that did not follow us. In spite of our attitude, Jesus chose us, along with Peter, to be present when He performed miracles in private or withdrew on a mountain and said His last prayer in Gethsemane. At the time, I had no inkling that we were there as the eye witnesses to our Teacher’s spiritual or heavenly origin. I would be the one, whom Jesus would entrust with sharing His Revelation and His Spiritual side with the world. Simon Peter was placed in charge of His followers and I was allowed to follow our Lord for another reason, yet to be identified. It was after I was exiled to the Isle of Patmos for life, that I received my instruction via revelation to publicize Jesus’ message to the world. I was allowed to see what no man ever did. I was also permitted to select some highlights out of our Lord’s life and have someone other and more capable than myself write them down.
We were the first to be endowed with the Holy Spirit, but not the only ones. On the Day of Pentecost, we were renewed in the Spirit and many others were likewise empowered to become witnesses for the Messiah. Thousands were beginning to follow Him. Greater things were happening than Jesus could have done by Himself or with our small group. With one outpouring of the Spirit, the message of Jesus preceded us into the world. We could not contain nor control the Spirit of God. The Spirit emboldened us to face foe and friend alike. We were not afraid to face our religious and secular authorities. Peter and I while we were on our way to the Temple to pray, we were interrupted by a lame beggar. We had no money so we offered him Jesus. As soon as the words of Jesus left Peter’s mouth the man got up and walked. This was the evidence that we needed to be emboldened witnesses for our Messiah. At last, we became aware that Jesus’ words were “Spirit and life.” We too were living and working in the Spirit, like Jesus had promised we would. But, were we really obeying the Spirit when we did not leave Jerusalem, did not allow the other sheep (Gentiles) to join us and force Annanias and Sapphira to conform to our judgment? Would Jesus have done what we did? Apparently, we were not allowed to use the Spirit as we pleased. Shortly after that, we were dispersed into the world.
We also labored under the impression that our time was short. We expected Jesus to return in our lifetime. When persecutions took some of our people, among them my brother James, and we were imprisoned and dispersed, we began, with the help of the Holy Spirit, to recollect what our Lord may have intended. There were many witnesses but no completed accounts of all His deeds and teaching. Many years had passed when John Mark, a friend of ours, especially of Peter and a companion of Paul wrote a short account of Jesus. Paul’s Gentile fellow worker Luke researched and reported the life and work of Jesus in greater details for his people. Someone else used Matthew to compile a guide for the Jews. Last, but not least, my companion added my recollections to the list of witnesses. Perhaps, the man that inspired us before we awaked to the need of a written witness was Paul, whom we had commissioned to preach to the Gentiles. He was not only a scholar, but was also filled with the Spirit to help him grow in grace and truth and put down in writing his insight into the mystery of Christ. My fellow worker and friend Peter recommended that we all follow the wisdom and example Paul had set for us.
There were many others, but the Spirit guided the selection process of the accounts that most accurately represented the life and mission of Jesus, our Messiah. The “One” within us was greater than the one without. In our own strength we were not able to stand against the forces that were destroying us. Without God’s Spirit we were not even aware that our own spirits were eternal and in danger of being lost. It was the Spirit that revealed our Savior, the Christ, to us. Yes, we were reborn by the Spirit and that is why we no longer identified the “Kingdom” Christ represented with the nation of Israel or any other nation. The Kingdom was spiritual or of the heart and for all the nations. There is a world beyond this one that is larger and more beautify; but the physical eye (I) cannot see it. It was when I worshipped in the Spirit that I received a glimpse of the eternal glory where our Lord Jesus is preparing our mansions. I was also shown a place for those that have not allowed the Spirit of Christ to change them. For the time being, all the spirits of the departed rest from their labors and await sentencing on Judgment Day. The ability to choose life has ended when the spirit (soul) leaves the mortal body. Do not delay to make your choice today!