A few years ago, I preached and led worship at a church in a community near where I live. During the children’s talk I mentioned that Jesus told his disciples that he would be returning to the Father, but that they would receive the Holy Spirit. I compared the Holy Spirit to the batteries in a flashlight.
Light is amazing. Without it, we would not be able to read and discover the world around us. Just like we need physical light to see the world around us, we need spiritual light to see and understand God. Jesus is that spiritual light, and we see in Luke 24:44-53 how he shined a spiritual light on the disciples before his ascension. He helped the disciples to see that shining a light on sin helps those who have lost their way to see him, and he helps us to see the same thing today. He also shined a light on the Old Testament prophecies about his death and resurrection. Luke reminds us that Jesus came to satisfy all of the prophecies made about him in the Old Testament.
The disciples heard the Lord preach many times. They watched him perform miracles for at least three years. They saw him crucified and now they stood in his resurrected presence, but until the Lord opened their minds to understand the Scriptures they did not truly understand everything. Spiritual understanding comes through the Holy Spirit, or it doesn’t come at all. True understanding of the Scriptures is a gift from God. It allows us to understand how all of the parts of God’s plan of salvation fit together. Part of that plan includes Jesus’ death and resurrection. The disciples and other followers, including modern-day followers, would gain further understanding through the work of the Holy Spirit. In return, they would be able to fulfill their commission as Jesus’ witnesses.
In order for the Holy Spirit to come and continue Christ’s work, Jesus had to leave and return to the Father. Jesus in human form could only be in one place at a time, but the Holy Spirit can be everywhere all of the time. When Jesus blessed the disciples before his ascension, he probably showed gratitude to those who chose to walk with him. If we walk with him today, we will hear the Holy Spirit use similar words.
The Holy Spirit reminds us of how much Christ loves us and the sacrifice he made so that we could regain fellowship with God. The Holy Spirit guides and strengthens us. It steers us away from danger and toward truth. When the Holy Spirit lives in us, we are healed, changed, freed and sent on missions because God lives in us. It opens our minds to receive God’s truth. It enables us to withstand all of life’s challenges. Without it, we will be defeated by the world.
Even after the disciples believed that Jesus Christ had risen from the dead, they did not become effective witnesses until the Holy Spirit came at Pentecost. Jesus told the disciples to wait in Jerusalem until the Spirit came and filled them with his power and authority. Knowledge and conviction aren’t enough. The Christian mission depends on the ongoing ministry of the Holy Spirit for its success.
The disciples learned that it takes time and prayer to find one’s mission. Mission is based on taking time to assess the needs and what our strengths are. God wants us to have a heart for him and a vision for the world. He wants us to know, obey and share him. God entrusts us to live and teach the Gospel in spite of our faults and failures.
Luke makes it clear that the message of Christ must include a focus on repentance and remission of sins. One without the other is incomplete. Jesus shone the light on the need to repent. The same light allows us to take in the Scriptures and feast on the Word. In return, we are to preach repentance and remission of sins in Jesus’ name to all nations.
- Jeremiah, David: The Jeremiah Study Bible, NKJV (Brentwood, TN: Worthy Publishing; 2013; p. 1436)
- ESV Study Bible. Part of Wordsearch 11 Bible software package.
- Dr. Charles Stanley, “The Holy Spirit: An Absolute.” Retrieved from Crosswalk@crosswalkmail.com
- “Use Even Me.” Retrieved from Christianity.firstname.lastname@example.org
- “Where Thou Art.” Retrieved from Christianity.email@example.com
- Larsen, B. & Ogilvie, L.J.: The Preacher’s Commentary Series, Vol. 26: Luke (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Inc.; 1983, pp. 356-357)
- MacArthur, J.F. Jr.: The MacArthur Study Bible: New American Standard Bible (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers; 2006)
- Dr. Charles Stanley, “The Power of the Holy Spirit.” Retrieved from Crosswalk@crosswalkmail.com
- “This Little Light of Mine.” Retrieved from Crosswalk@crosswalkmail.com
- “A Total Life Change.” Retrieved from Crosswalk@crosswalkmail.com
- “What is Written.” Retrieved from Crosswalk@crosswalkmail.com
- Jill Carattini, “A Sign of Relief.” Retrieved from www.sliceofinifity.org
- Aaron Coyle-Carr, “He Ascended with Scars.” Retrieved from www.day1.org
- Baptist Bible Hour, “Evangelism.” Retrieved from Oneplace@crosswalkmail.com
- George Hermanson, “Discernment.” Retrieved from www.georgehermanson.com
- Dr. Charles Stanley, “A Heart for God-A Vision for the World.” Retrieved from www.intouch.org
- “The Heart of Worship.” Retrieved from firstname.lastname@example.org
- Exegesis for Luke 24:44-53. Retrieved from www.lectionary.org
- Craig Condon, “The Light of the Holy Spirit.” Children’s Talk delivered during the weekly Worship Service at Bridgewater United Church, Bridgewater, NS on Sun., May 1, 2016. Sermon available from the author’s personal library or online at http://sermonsfrommyheart.blogspot.ca/2016/04/john-1423-29-light-of-holy-spirit.html