“Receive the Holy Spirit!” John 20:22
Jesus appeared to His disciple on the day of His resurrection and said, “Peace be with you.” Then Jesus showed them His hands and side, again blessed them with the words, “Peace be with you” and sent them out to the world breathing on them the words, “Receive the Holy Spirit!” What Spirit? We read in Genesis, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth……….. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. Genesis 1:1-2 That Spirit was now given to disciples as Jesus appeared to them on that resurrection day we know as Easter.
Earlier, much earlier in the ministry of Jesus, a man named Nicodemus sought out Jesus in secret. He was there to find out who Jesus truly was.
Jesus responded with what appeared to be a riddle to Nicodemus, “unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Nicodemus said how can a man be born again? Jesus replied, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.”
Yes, we along with the disciples receive the Spirit that hovered over waters of the creation. Luther puts it this way, “…The Holy Spirit has called me by the Gospel, enlightened me with His gifts, sanctified and kept me in the one true faith.” “Receive the Holy Spirit!” We are sent! Peace be with you!
Question: Where do we hear again about Nicodemus?
Answer: Nicodemus defended Jesus in John 7 and with Joseph of Arimathea took the body of Christ from the cross and buried him.
Then He Opened Their Minds!” Luke 24:45
What was it like for the disciples to suddenly understand with clarity what they previously knew about but only partly understood? Similar perhaps to what we have experienced when we describe what has just happened as a light bulb just turned on. Or even better when we have a breakthrough which we describe as an epiphany, a moment of sudden revelation or insight. It is so clear that we are filled with excitement and energy. What Christ gave to His disciples when He opened their minds was that, plus more.
We all understand that what we experience in the present sometimes doesn’t become clear until we can look back at it with a perspective the future brings. Luke brings us the words of Christ speaking to His disciples and opening their minds so they now understood what they had seen and learned previously as they were taught and led by Jesus. The past became clear and now changed they were led by the revelation of truth shining brightly leading them into the future. So charged, they saw their Savor ascend into heaven after hearing His words, “I am sending the promise of my Father upon you.” Luke 49
Today our three confirmands, Connor Anno, Grace Donovan and Shauna Moran will bear witness to their faith. They have been blessed through the Spirit to have their minds open and to see and understand the truth that Christ came to witness. We welcome their families who join us today to witness and celebrate with them as they have been led to a saving belief in Jesus as their Savior.
Question: When and where did the ascension of the Lord take place?
Answer: Forty days after Jesus rose from the dead Jesus ascended into heaven in front of His disciples gathered at the Mount of Olives, as recorded in Acts. Luke’s account states Jesus led them to the vicinity of Bethany. Bethany is a village on the Mount of Olives about two miles east of Jerusalem. So both accounts are consistent and there are no discrepancies in these different accounts.
“Speaking About the Kingdom of God!” Acts 1:3
What were the 40 days between the resurrection of Christ and the ascension of Christ like for the followers of Christ? Is it accurate to describe those days as the calm before the storm? There must have been curiosity and also apprehension of what was going to happen next. Confidence was growing but what was going to happen next?
The true sense of God’s plan for them slowly became more visible as it does for us know. Jesus was alive and now much was to come. God’s promise had been fulfilled. The King was alive and Kingdom building was in progress and soon would be released into the world. Luke writes in Acts that Jesus appeared to His followers and spoke to them about the Kingdom of God. Why did He do that and what was He saying?
Question: How often is the phrase Kingdom of God (Matthew uses the phrase Kingdom of Heaven) in the New Testament?
Answer: One source indicates the phrase Kingdom of God or Kingdom of Heaven is used over 100 times in the New Testament.
So that You May Believe!” John 20:31
John begins his Gospel boldly with the words “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
That Word, that is Jesus, came into this world and John was led by the Spirit to write about His coming and His signs so that we may believe and have the life and light that Jesus gives. What signs? Changing water into wine, driving out evil spirits, healing the blind and the sick and bringing the dead back to life. Oh yes, also dying and rising from the dead and showing Himself as the risen Lord. Why did John write? So that we might believe and as we believe we live.
Question: Jesus remained on this earth 40 days after His resurrection. The number 40 is used on other occasion in the Holy Bible. Is there a special meaning with the use of the number 40 in Scripture?
Answer: The number 40 shows up often in the Bible. Here are a few examples of the Bible’s use of the number 40 besides the number of days between Jesus’ resurrection and ascension: The rain fell 40 days and 40 nights, when God destroyed the earth with the flood. After Moses killed the Egyptian, he fled to Midian, where he spent 40 years in the desert tending flocks. Moses was on Mount Sinai for 40 days and 40 nights. In the New Testament, Jesus was tempted for 40 days and 40 nights. Whether or not the number 40 really has any significance is still debated. The Bible definitely seems to use 40 to emphasize a spiritual truth, but the Bible nowhere specifically assigns any special meaning to the number 40.