In my last post I wrote about why Jesus waited to go to his sick friend Lazarus who was at death’s door. One reason was so the disciples and others present would believe, but there was another purpose in the waiting. Jesus was preparing his disciples for the day they would be on their own and would have to wait for the next best thing.
These men had no problem believing that Jesus was the Messiah as long as he was physically with them, and especially seeing with their own eyes the many miracles he performed. But soon he would be back in heaven and they would have to believe without him. Faith would now come into play. Have you ever wished that Jesus was physically present with us today? I know I have! But then we would be living by sight and not by faith. The writer of the book of Hebrews says that without faith, it’s impossible to please God and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him (Hebrews 11:6). Jesus even said that those who have not seen him and believe are blessed (John 20:29). These words should encourage us that God still blesses those who believe today.
If there was a club for members who excel in waiting I would be denied membership along with most of our society. Many of us have childhood memories of our parents telling us to wait to eat dessert after dinner. We didn’t like this command, but it was for our good so we would first get the nutrition we needed to grow into healthy adults. It was like this for the disciples who fed on the words of Jesus for three years while they lived alongside of him. They grew spiritually, but had not fully matured. They would need help and God had just the “dessert” they needed, but they had to wait just a little longer.
After his resurrection, Jesus had appeared to the apostles over a period of forty days on the earth. On one occasion he told them to wait for the gift his Father had promised (Acts 1:3-5). He told them that they would be baptized in the Holy Spirit, but based on their question of whether this was the time he would restore the kingdom of Israel, it’s safe to say they still didn’t understand. Let’s face it, we probably wouldn’t have grasped the idea of being baptized in the Spirit either. I mean all they knew about baptism was what John had done right before Jesus arrived on the scene. He immersed them in water after they repented of their sins and accepted forgiveness from God. Jesus had previously told his disciples about the Holy Spirit (Advocate, Spirit of truth) who would live in them, teach them all things and remind them of everything Jesus had said to them (John 14:17, 26). Before we start to judge these guys, consider how many of us could remember every word Jesus said over a period of three years or even write them down. Most people today can’t remember a thirty-minute sermon, much less take notes!
The disciples and those who followed Christ when he walked on this earth had to wait on the promised Holy Spirit. The good news is that today we don’t have to wait for that gift! Besides receiving forgiveness for all of our sins and eternal life in heaven, the next best gift a person could ever receive is Christ’s Spirit living inside of them. Jesus loves us so much, he not only paid for our sins, but he gave us exactly what we need to live the life here on earth that glorifies the Father. These gifts are free and available to anyone who believes that Jesus died in their place and rose to life and now lives in heaven preparing a place for us.
What are you waiting for?!