Do events anger or frighten us? Are we weak quitters who give up at the first offense? Do we feel powerless to overcome the bad habits of the world? Do old age or illness make us feel hopeless? Are we debilitated by hatred or bitterness in our hearts?
We need power from on high.
We will look at Jesus’ parting statements in Luke 24:44-53 as he prepared for his ascension.
Jesus in the Old Testament
Jesus said that he was written about in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms, the Old Testament described in three divisions (Luke 24:44). Over 300 distinct prophecies plus many analogies and stories point to Jesus. There is a prophecy of his virgin birth (Isaiah 7:14), his place of birth in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2), his identity as God's Son (Psalms 2:7-8), his anointing by God's Spirit (Isaiah 11:1-2), his death by crucifixion (Psalms 22:16), his resurrection from the dead (Psalms 16:10) and hundreds more. Before the New Testament was completed the church preached Christ from the Old Testament as well as their own direct experience. According to one source there are “343 Old Testament quotations in the New Testament, as well as no fewer than 2,309 allusions and verbal parallels.”
Baptized with the Holy Spirit
An oft disputed phrase is found once in each of the Gospels (Matthew 3:11;Mark 1:8; Luke 3:16; John 1:33) and twice in Acts (1:5; 11:16). Exaggerated teaching about baptism of the Holy Spirit emphasizes things like speaking in tongues or miraculous powers. However, the phrase actually means something a whole lot simpler than that. An examination of the Greek word for baptism is a good place to start. It literally means to dip, or submerge, but it goes way beyond a simplistic literal meaning. It also means a cleansing or washing (ablution) and that gets us a little closer to a logical answer. The Holy Spirit cleans us up spiritually as water cleans us physically. It also means “to imbue richly with the Holy Spirit” and power from on high (Luke 24:49).
Good News—Power from on High
God promised power from on high (Luke 24:49), his power (Matthew 6:13), power to the weak (Isaiah 40:29). Micah (3:8) was filled with power, to declare, by God’s Spirit (Zechariah 4:6). God’s power (Matthew 22:29) is greater power than the grave (Hosea 13:14). The apostles were promised power (Acts 1:8) to be witnesses (martyrs) and were given the power of hope (Romans 15:13) from the Holy Spirit, power of the cross (1 Corinthians 1:18), power that is made perfect in our weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9), and is at work within us (Ephesians 3:20). It is the power of the resurrection (Philippians 3:10), power for endurance and patience (Colossians 1:11), power in the Gospel (1 Thessalonians 1:5), power for a godly life (2 Peter 1:3).
Visible and Invisible Presence
Jesus has gone to be with the Father in heaven (Luke 24:51). His visible presence is no longer with us, but his invisible presence is still with us. He is present with us in the coming of the Holy Spirit. He is present with us in the sacrament of communion. He and the Father have made their home with us (John 14:23). The world has spiritual Alzheimer's disease. They don’t know where they are going or why they are here. The invisible presence of the Holy Spirit gives us power to witness of the world’s most important and greatest enterprise. Jesus is no longer visibly present, but we see him in the “breaking of bread” and in the visible church which bears witness to his invisible presence (Acts 1:8). Christ still lives and his kingdom work continues.
God gives us power to overcome anger or fear, power to overcome offenses, power to overcome the bad habits of the world, the power of hope in old age or illness, power to overcome hatred or bitterness in our hearts, and most importantly power to live forever.