“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)
I am a firm believer in the infallible Word of God. It is a settled issue with me – if the Bible says it, I believe it. With this being said, there are some passages that cause me to wonder how they can possibly be true in my situation. The above noted scripture is one of those. I believe it, but with my weaknesses and inabilities, how it can aptly apply to me? My response to this scripture is probably not too unlike that of the disciples…
Jesus will be leaving soon. He has spent almost three years with 12 chosen men. These men have been front and center in all that Jesus did. It is going to be quite a change for them when He is gone. Jesus knows this and intentionally spends much time preparing them for life after He is no longer walking by their side. He shares with them a plan that will cause them to thrive and not simply survive.
As Jesus and His disciples are talking about their future, He lets them know His expectation is the ministry He has begun will continue through them. He goes so far as to say to them the works He did they would do, and their works would even surpass what they had seen Him accomplish. What a bold statement this was!
I have no doubt the disciples listened intently at every word coming from the lips of their Master. They did not interrupt Him and probably nodded in agreement – even if passively. But when He was finished, if would not surprise me if they spoke privately to each other about what they heard Him say. “Did He say what I think He said?” “Do you think He really meant what He said, or could His words mean something else?” “How can our work ever compare to His?”
These men of whom we sometimes make heroes were only common flesh and blood. It had to be an overwhelming thought to them that they would be entrusted with the responsibility of continuing the ministry of the Lord. Then add to this feeling those words – and greater works than these he will do – well, this was just almost too much to believe. But… they knew Jesus and they trusted Jesus and they were willing to obey Jesus. These three simple facts/convictions would be the foundation they would stand on from that day forward.
The next few weeks would be nothing short of a whirlwind for these disciples. They watched Jesus be arrested and endure a mockery of a trial. They heard the death sentence pronounced and witnessed Jesus being brutally crucified. They saw Him die and be buried in a borrowed tomb. Three days later they received news the stone covering the entrance of the tomb had been rolled back and the body of the Lord was gone. They soon discovered for themselves the body of Jesus had not been stolen but He had risen from the dead as He promised He would – He was alive! They dined with the risen Jesus and went in and out of His company for 40 days. They eventually walked with Him outside the city and watched as He was taken up in the clouds to return to His Father. What a journey it had been!
Before Jesus left them, He gave some final instructions. Before they began their ministry assignments, they were to return to Jerusalem and assemble in an upper room. The instructions were to go to the upper room and wait. They really do not know what they are waiting for – all Jesus had said was, “wait for the promise of the Father.” That was not a lot of information to go on but…they knew Jesus and they trusted Jesus and they were willing to obey Jesus. They leave the mountain from which Jesus ascended and head for the upper room in Jerusalem.
When the disciples and other followers of Jesus arrived in the upper room – nothing happened. They took care of some business and selected a successor for Judas. And they waited. What are they waiting for? How will they know when “it” happens/arrives? How long will it be? No has answers to these questions but…they know Jesus and they trust Jesus and they are willing to obey Jesus.
Then it happened! Acts 2:1-4 records it like this, “When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them the utterance.”
These 120 men and women will never be the same again. They are filled with boldness and the fire of the Spirit. They take the message of Jesus everywhere. They lead multitudes of people to the Lord. Mighty miracles become the expected order of the day. It is said they turned their world upside down for Him! These common everyday men and women become world changers and it was all made possible by three simple little facts…they knew Jesus and they trusted Jesus and they were willing to obey Jesus.
I love this story of Pentecost and the birth of the New Testament church. The book of Acts is filled with accounts of the Holy Spirit and the dramatic impact He makes. Reading these accounts as history is absolutely fascinating but reading them as the beginning of the story is even more thrilling! What started in the upper room on the Day of Pentecost was not an isolated incident; it continues today!
Peter confirmed our participation in the promise of the Father when he preached his great sermon on the Day of Pentecost. His words in Acts 2:39 allow the 21st century believer to take heart and know the same presence and power of the Holy Spirit experienced by the 1st century Christians is available to us right now. “For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.” (Acts 2:39)
This reality has been experienced by many, including myself, and everyday is being discovered by others all over the world. The Holy Spirit is, indeed, being poured out across the globe and hungry believers of Jesus are being baptized in this mighty river in massive numbers. He is touching people from all nations and religious backgrounds. He does not want anyone to miss this blessing.
In these unsettling times, it is good to know this wonderful experience of being filled with the Holy Spirit is available. Just like the people in the upper room on the Day of Pentecost, one does not have to understand it or have all the facts in hand. You just have to know Jesus, trust Jesus and be willing to obey Jesus. It is not hard or anything to fear. It is simply receiving a promised gift from God.
Do you know Jesus? Do you trust the totally trustworthy Jesus? Are you willing – with absolute abandon – to obey Jesus? If you are able to answer yes to these three questions, you are welcome to walk right into the river of the Holy Spirit and be totally immersed in His presence and power. It can happen in the sanctuary on Sunday or wherever you are right now. Just stop whatever you are doing and let the Father know you are ready to receive His gift of the Holy Spirit baptism. It is His desire to give this blessed gift to you. The promise is for you.