PARTNERS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT: PART LXXIX
Luke did not conclude his Gospel in Galilee, but in Bethany and in Jerusalem. The women could not convince the disciples that Jesus had returned from the dead. And neither could the Emmaus men be convinced by the women. To back the Emmaus disciples witness, Jesus appeared Himself to them. And Jesus began to refresh their minds as to what He had to do. We have quoted the following text in Part II, but do so again for the reader’s convenience. Sequence necessitates repetition:
As they (Emmaus men) were saying this, Jesus himself stood among them (the ten apostles). But they were startled and frightened, and supposed that they saw my spirit. And he said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do questioning rise in your hearts? See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself; handle me, and see; for a spirit has not flesh and bones as you see that I have.” And while they still disbelieved for joy, and wondered, he said to them, “Have you anything here to eat?” They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate before them.
Then he said to them, “These are my words which I spoke to you, while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the law of Moses and the prophets and the psalms must be fulfilled.” Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures, and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be preached in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. And behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you; but say in the city, until you are clothed with power from on high.”
Then he led them out as far as Bethany, and lifting up his hands he blessed them. While he blessed them, he parted from them, and was carried up into heaven. And they returned to Jerusalem with great joy, and were continually in the temple blessing God (Luke 24:36-53).
In the first book, O Theophilus, I have dealt with all that Jesus began to do and to teach, until the day when he was taken up, after he had given commandments through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom he had chosen. To them he presented himself alive after his passion by many proofs, appearing to the during forty days, and speaking of the kingdom of God. And while staying with them he charged them not to depart from Jerusalem, but not wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, “you heard from me, for John baptized with water, but before many days you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”
So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has fixed by his own authority. But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and to the end of the earth.” And when he had said this, as they were looking on he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by the in white robes, and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way to you saw him go into heaven” (Acts 1:1-11).
WHAT DID THE DISCIPLES LEARN DURING THE FORTY DAYS FROM THE RISEN CHRIST?
It was more likely that they needed forty years and not just forty days to understand Jesus’ idea of a Kingdom that could be in the world; yet, not of the world. However, that Kingdom could and would live in man; and therefore, man can make the world a better place. The Holy Spirit had not touched the believer’s spirits. The Gospels were waiting for men like Paul, Luke, and the witness in John who listened in on Jesus telling Pilate that “His Kingdom” was not of Pilate’s world (John 18:36-37). At this point, they did not have Luke’s spreadsheet, which declared that the disciples were the recipients of the “Kingdom of Heaven” Luke 12:32), the “Kingdom of Heaven” would be in them, and not in the world (Luke 17:20-21), and that they would administer the “Kingdom of Heaven” to the twelve tribes (Luke 22:30). However, the disciples were taught, by their traditions, that the Messiah would restore Israel to a Davidic glory (Luke 24:21). Jesus had predicted that He would return as the Son of man; only, He was not certain as to when He would return (Luke 21;27; Mark 13:26, 32). And Matthew 24:29-31, remembered that Jesus used the word “immediately” after the tribulation and the destruction of the temple, the Son of man would return, not to establish a Kingdom on earth, but that He would take them to heaven. Yet on the day, the disciples saw their Lord ascend, they still asked, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom of Israel?” Then, the two men garbed in white did not clear up the misunderstanding, but even told them that they would see Him return (Acts 1:11). The disciples did obey and returned to the Upper Room in Jerusalem, and Peter began to fill Juda’s place so they could take over the helm when Christ returned. Only, it was not the Christ who was coming back, but a change of the “Guards.” Jesus was turning the reigns over to the Holy Spirit and not to the twelve disciples. The Holy Spirit would choose new leaders who would take the “Kingdom of Heaven” into the world, like Joseph Barnabas, the deacon Philip, the deacon and proselyte Nicolaus, Paul (Saul), John Mark, Silas, Timothy, Titus, and Luke.
The, the eleven returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olives, which is near Jerusalem, a sabbath day’s journey away; and when they had entered, they went up to the upper room, where they were staying, Peter and John and James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot and Judas the son of James. All these with one accord devoted themselves to prayer, together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers.
In those days Peter stood up among the brethren (the company of persons was in all about a hundred and twenty), and said, “Brethren, the scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit spoke beforehand by the mouth of David, concerning Judas who was guide to those who arrested Jesus. For he was numbered among us, and was allotted his share in this ministry. (Now this man bought a field with the reward of his wickedness; and falling headlong he burst open in the middle and all his bowels gushed out. And it became known to all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, so that the field was called in their language Akeldama, that is, Field of Blood.) For it is written in the book of Psalms, ‘Let his habitation become desolate, and let there be no one to live in it’; and ‘His office let another take.’
So one of the men who have accompanied us during all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from the baptism of John until the day when he was taken up from us—one of these men must become with us a witness to his resurrection.” And they put forward two, Joseph called Barsabbas, who was surnamed Justus, and Mattias. And they prayed and said, “Lord who knowest the hearts of all men, show which one of these two thou hast chosen to take the place in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas turned aside, to go to his own place.” And they cast lots for them, and the lot fell on Matthias; and he was enrolled with the eleven apostles (Acts 1:12-26).
THE DISCIPLES WITH THEIR FRIENDS LIVED IN HIGH EXPECTATION
The eleven disciples, the women who ministered with them, and the mother of Jesus settled in with Mary and John Mark and not in Galilee with John Zebedee, who had no means to care for anyone. Also, this indicates who the other disciple was, whom Jesus loved, and to whom He entrusted his mother. This disciple was far too valuable for the cause of Christ to be harmed by revealing his identity. And that was Jesus major reason to serve as the Son of man and avoid being stoned as the Son of God (John 12:34).
Peter, after they had settled in the upper room, with David as the mouthpiece of the Holy Spirit, chose Matthias as the replacement of Judas. It was a requirement to have twelve apostles stand ready, when Christ the Lord would return, and to take charge of restoring the nation of Israel. There was no doubt, in their minds, that Jesus had an army in heaven, waiting for His call to boot the Romans out and their own Jewish imposters (John 18:36; Matthew 26:52-53). Jesus’ first attempt to take over the reign over Israel in a peaceful way failed, and now it was time for the sword to take charge. Jesus had mentioned that the sword would follow Him (Luke 22:36; Matthew 10:34). It would be very much like in the Exodus under Moses, when God used the sword to deliver Israel. This disciples and their followers expected a force from heaven to take over their beloved city and country. John Mark, himself, believed that Jesus would return imminent with power and so did the others (Mark 13:26; Matthew 24:30; Luke 21:27; Revelation 19:17-21).
The disciples, and we are no different, expected God to do what they hoped and wished for. But God’s ways are not our ways, and things we ask for and want, may not serve us well (Isaiah 55:8-9). It was during Passover that Pharaoh had to let Israel go (Exodus 12). It was Passover when Jesus rode into Jerusalem, but He could not free Israel; and therefore, He died on the cross (John 19:17-23). Jesus came back from the dead without an army and there was no indication that He would make an attempt to restore Israel. Yet, they were told to wait for the Holy Spirit, who would help them build the Kingdom. Imagine, what the disciples expected the Holy Spirit would bring that would transform not only Israel, but the world? The Apostle Paul believed that the event would bring the Lord Messiah to Mount Zion and save all Israel (Romans 11:25-27). On the day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit stormed in like a mighty wind, touching the spirits of one hundred and twenty men, who began to proclaim Jesus as the Messiah in many languages. The Spirit induced Peter to proclaim Christ as God’s designated Savior, and three thousand became disciples of Jesus (Acts 2).
When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly a sound came from heaven like the rush of a mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them tongues as of fire, distributed and resting on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance (Acts 2:1-4).
It was an enormous day for the disciples and their friends; and for Peter who emerged as a mighty leaders of the Jesus’ Movement. It was only the beginning for Peter and for the Jesus’ Movement. People had come from all over the Roman Empire and from outside to be in Jerusalem on Pentecost, and they were inspired to take home the message about God’s Savior of the world. The promise of Jesus had become a reality! And His Spirit, along with the Spirit of His Father, was taking up residence in the human spirit (John 4:23; I Corinthians 6:19).