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Pentecost and the Promise of the Father

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Pentecost and the Promise of the Father

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When I was a child living at home with my parents, a special family lived next-door whom we could truly depend upon. If my mother needed to borrow a cup of flour she would always ask Mrs. Swartz. If my father needed a little assistance with a home project, he could call upon Mr. Swartz. So the Swartzes assisted us and we did the same for them when they needed help. Our excellent, neighborly relationship was warm, mutually beneficial and greatly appreciated.

Perhaps you have such fine neighbors now as we did then. But let’s take it a step further. Imagine for a moment that Jesus Christ was still on earth and lived next door to you! If you had a problem, you could ring His doorbell and He would listen and miraculously help. If you were ill, He would come to your house and heal you instantly. If you needed advice, He would counsel you perfectly. Of course this is merely a fanciful notion because Jesus left earth long ago. Near the end of His 3½-year ministry He announced to His disciples, “I leave the world and go to the Father” (John 16:28).

As His dedicated disciples today, we have access to all the spiritual energy and faith we need to fully pursue His way of life.

He is gone now. Today we worship and pray to our great Creator who we cannot physically see. Even though we may have a close relationship with Him, we may at times, have to wait for the fulfillment of our prayerful needs and requests (Psalm 27:14). Then, on some occasions, we may begin to wonder if He really hears our prayers or even cares about us. Of course, this tests our faith and patience especially when we are undergoing pain, distress and sorrow (James 1:2-4; 1 Peter 1:6).

Jesus declared: “I go to My Father and you see Me no more” (John 16:10). When Jesus’ original 12 disciples heard these words from Him they felt terribly distraught (John 16:6). But Christ also told them that they would benefit enormously by His leaving. He said, “I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away” (John 16:7, emphasis added throughout). But how could it possibly be helpful to them or us today if He went away to be with His Father? He went on to state, “. . . for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him [it] to you” (John 16:7). 

The Promise of the Father

Immediately before Jesus ascended to heaven He told His disciples, “. . . not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father” (Acts 1:4, 11). This is the most marvelous blessing of comfort and support that Christ’s followers could have ever heard! It far outpaces any human-made promise. It encompasses the unparalleled gift of God’s very own Spirit which Jesus would go to heaven to receive from His Father to send to His steadfast disciples (Acts 2:33). This priceless promise was fulfilled on the day of Pentecost in 31 AD when 120 disciples were infused with the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:4). For the first time in world history, the very essence of God’s divine nature was made available to more than a tiny number of people. Accompanied by extraordinary, miraculous signs, including a rushing mighty wind and tongues of fire, the bestowing of the Holy Spirit to those disciples marked the very beginning of the New Testament Church (Acts 2:1-4).

So when Jesus ascended to be with His Father, He certainly didn’t desert His disciples. It was completely the opposite! He would actually be with them in a dramatically more powerful and vibrant manner. To be sure, this fulfilled Jesus’ earlier statement that their sorrow would be “turned into joy” (John 16:20)! He exclaimed, “I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20). Furthermore, He said, “I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you. A little while longer and the world will see Me no more, but you will see Me” (John 14:18-19). How would they see Him? Not only in the resurrection at His Second Coming but in their daily lives through the essence of God’s boundless power, guidance and wisdom dwelling in them—just as it did in Christ Himself (Romans 8:11; John 14:10). 

Confirmation of this awesome miracle was seen instantaneously on that Pentecost morning in the lives of Peter and the other 11 apostles. In fact, Peter exclaimed to an assembled crowd in Jerusalem that Jesus “. . . being exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He poured out this which you now see and hear” (Acts 2:33). Indeed, by means of Peter’s passionate, God-inspired preaching, 3,000 people repented, were baptized and received God’s Spirit on that very day (Acts 2:40-41). 

So, the magnificent fulfillment of “the promise of the Father” occurred at that time but, it didn’t stop there! That was only the beginning. It has continued down through the centuries in all people who answer God’s call, are baptized, receive the amazing gift of His perfect Spirit and are diligently producing spiritual fruit throughout their lives (John 15:4-5).

Greater Works Will Be Accomplished

As we commemorate the giving of the Holy Spirit each year on the Holy Day of Pentecost we can be more than confident that the words of support and wellbeing Jesus expressed to His original disciples apply to us today. He declared, “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father” (John 14:12). 

Those “greater works” could only have been demonstrated by converted men and women after Christ joined His Father on His throne. It is through the power of the Holy Spirit that He works mightily in and through converted individuals (Romans 8:11). As His dedicated disciples today, we have access to all the spiritual energy and faith we need to fully pursue His way of life (Matthew 4:4; Romans 12:1-2). We are incredibly blessed to have the very mind of Christ so we can love God, overcome sin, build holy, righteous character and serve others (Philippians 2:5; Romans 8:28; James 1:21-22; 1 Peter 4:10).

While having a warm and mutually beneficial relationship with a wonderful human next-door neighbor is certainly excellent, isn’t what we have with Jesus Christ far beyond any comparison? He said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5). Also, Jesus understands our needs and requests as we prayerfully and patiently wait for His ideal timing in response (Isaiah 65:24; Psalm 27:14). With the tremendous power of God’s Holy Spirit working in us, we have the perfect assurance of help today and a wonderful and exciting future in God’s coming Kingdom (2 Corinthians 4:16-17). Therefore, let us appreciate more than ever the wonderful fulfillment of the Promise of the Father which began on that first New Testament Pentecost.