“And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should depart from Jerusalem, but wait fro the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me. For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence. When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel? And he said unto them, it is not for you to know the times or the reasons, which the Father hath put in his own power. But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth” (Acts 1:4-8).
In verse 4 of chapter one of Acts, while the resurrected Jesus was with His disciples and eating with them (see Luke 24:42), He was telling precious words significant to His disciples in the field of missions and Christian life; but before we go to content of His message let us meticulously analyze the context of that event, so that we may have a concrete scenario of the event on the last say of Jesus before His ascension, and also the significance of the place.
Luke, the author of Acts, used “while staying with them” (RSV), or “being assembled together” (KJV) which mean “eating together” or “lodging together” since in Greek it is s (sunaulizomenos).
This Greek word might mean also “camping with them in the open.” Sunaulizomenos was a military term which meant ‘to bivouac” as what Jesus Christ had done during the week before crucifixion (see Luke 21:37). Though this word study we may conclude that the resurrected Christ was talking with His disciples in the open space, and actually it was on the Mount of Olivet (or Olives) (1:12). Mount Olives was 2, 700 ft or 830 meter hill overlooking Jesus and its temple area from the East, across the Kidron Valley. In Jesus’ time it was planted with an olive tree that’s why it was called Mount of Olives. When Jesus rode in triumph into Jerusalem he came from the Mount of Olives. And in Acts 1:9, we could read that the Christ favored much the Mount of Olives.
It was there also that He would descend from heaven as prophesied by Zechariah (see: 14:4-5b): “And his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south……..the Lord my God shall come and all saints with thee.” In other words, the prophet Zechariah foresaw Jesus Christ on the Day of Judgment, standing on the Mount of Olives, would split in two.
Wait for the Coming of the Holy Spirit
So while Jesus was eating with His disciples on the Mount of Olives, he imperatively told them the following: “You should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me. For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence.”
This verse does not indicate that the disciples were already in the city of Jerusalem, but instead they were being commanded to go to Jerusalem and wait there for the coming of the Holy Spirit with power. It indicates also the Jesus was commanding His disciples to obey the will of the Lord and let promise of the Father be fulfilled through and for them.
Again Jesus said: “Ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.”
I do believe that Jesus knew that it was and it is very difficult to be a witness without the empowerment of the Holy Spirit that’s why He commanded His disciples to wait for the empowerment. The “power” which was promised to come is dunamis (sin Greek. It is also a synonym of exousia (in Matthew 28:18: “All power is given unto me in heaven and earth…..” Exousia means either conferred or derived authority, indicating the warrant or right to do something (Matthew 21:23-27, RSV). Dunamis implies ability and strength (2 Corinthian 8:3; Ephesus 3:16) It may also mean a powerful act (Acts 2:220. Jesus was right, the apostles became conviction to witness for Christ till the last drop of their blood. The coward Peter became the bold preacher who converted 3, 000 people in just one preaching (Acts 2:14-41). Peter and John became powerful healers (Acts 3:1-8).
Empowered to Witness
The infilling of the Holy Spirit should not be seen as privilege of the Apostles, but instead it should be seen as responsibility to serve. The only privilege that a Christian has is that he or she is privileged to witness for Christ and pursue God’s missions.
Christians should not imitate the Old Testament People of God, the Israelites. Then, the Israelites covenanted with God to become kingdom of priests and a holy nation right after their liberation from the mighty hands of the Egyptians (Exodus 19:3-8). In other words, Israel was chosen or elected by God. And that election was for service and not a privilege to enjoy. If their service would cease, the election of Israel to serve other nations and in his way Israel’s election is not a privileged position but a servant role.
Waldon Scott says, “Israel’s primary mission (or rather, her primary assignment in God’s mission), was to be the people of God. As long as Israel remained true to her covenant relationship with the Lord, obeying His voice and keeping His commandments, she would be blessed by the Lord, and like a magnet, draw all peoples to him.”
As the Old Testament and the history say, the Old Testament People of God did not continue to be like that since they failed to be the kingdom of priests and a holy nation. Thus, they did not pursue the mission of God through living in holiness and magnetizing the neighboring nations to draw peoples to God. In short the election ceased since the privilege to serve other peoples ceased. As a consequence of that, God disciplined them by dividing their nation into two: the Northern Kingdom (Israel, 10 tribes) and the Southern Kingdom (Judah, 2 tribes). Later on they were given to invaders, namely: Assyria and Babylon in 722 BC and 586 BC respectively. The people were deported to invaders’ nations and never returned (2 kings 17:1-23), except the remnants of Judah who returned after the 70 years of stay in Babylon.
I mentioned this because I want you to be conscious of what is Christianity with empowerment. We should not boast it but instead we should be happy that we are privileged to serve God and all peoples with power coming from above.
The Power that Crosses Boundaries
Jesus Christ predicted the impact of the dunamis. He said “Ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.” This phrase reveals that in missions, boundaries are not an obstacle, since the Holy Spirit would help us to cross the “uncrossable” boundaries whether it be geographical, racial, occupational, congregational, denominational, etc. Indeed we can cross boundaries since we are bound to missions.
Christians want to do missions but sometimes they are afraid of or ashamed of. It is natural if they do not yet discover the power of the Holy Spirit in missions. When the Holy Spirit is with us in missions, He will strengthen us and he will help us to make possible the impossible.
John Wesley, after years as an earnest but only nominal Christian, including ministry both in England and America, was wonderfully born again with a clear assurance of salvation on May 24, 1738, in Moravian service on Aldersgate street in London. After 10 years of struggle he had found peace. Later in the years he began to long for a still deeper experience. On January 1, 1739, he, his brother Charles, George Whitefield and some 60 others were continuing in prayer. About 3 o’clock in the morning God poured out His Spirit on them in a mighty way in tremendous empowering, anointing, and infilling of the Holy Spirit. Many cried out fro exceeding joy, and many fell into the ground. That infilling made Wesley and his people to preach the Gospel across the British Isles and in the American colonies. The Holy Spirit continued to manifest His power through John Wesley until his death on March 2, 1791. Wesley left million of Methodists around the world.
Do you want to be filled with the Holy Spirit like John Wesley and other Christians? But you may ask how are we going to be filled? I have some suggestions here:
Make sure that you have faith in Christ Jesus. In order to test your faith in Christ, let me ask you some questions: Is Christ the Lord of your life? Do you do His will or your will? Do you feel happiness in serving God? Are you eager in finishing His task given to you?
Make sure that you desire a life in the Spirit. You will just do what Spirit wants you to do. Paul says, “Walk in the Spirit,” meaning you will make the Spirit as your lifetime partner! Walang hiwalayan, walang iwanan!
Ask God to empower you in prayer and/or by laying of hands of spirit-filled Christians. In Luke 11:9-10, 13, Jesus says, “Ask and it will be given to you: seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks the door will be opened…….if you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven, give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him” (NIV).
Dwight L. Moody had already been greatly used by God in Chicago. Two humble Methodist women prayer faithfully for him during his services. At the close of one Sunday service they told Moody, “We have been praying for you.” Moody asked them, “Why you have been praying for me?” The women answered him, “Because you need the power of the Spirit.” “I need power? Why?” he said in relating the incident afterwards, “I thought I had power, I had the largest congregation in Chicago and there were many conversions!”
Anyway, one day Moody asked the two ladies to explain about the power and infilling of the Holy Spirit, and after a long discussion, they prayed together. When he was leaving, suddenly the power of God fell upon him as he walked on the street, and he had to hurry off to the house of a friend, and ask that he might have a room by himself, and in that room he stayed alone for hours, and the Holy Spirit came upon him filling his soul with such joy, that at last, he had to ask the Lord to withhold His hand, lest he die on the spot from very joy. He went out from that place with the power of the Holy Spirit upon him.