Fuller

The Promise of Power

May 9, 2022 • Life for Leaders

Scripture – Luke 24:45-49 (NRSV)

Then [Jesus] opened their minds to understand the scriptures, and he said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Messiah is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. And see, I am sending upon you what my Father promised; so stay here in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.”

Focus

Jesus told his first disciples they would be sent out to preach the good news of his death and resurrection. But before they started, they needed to wait for power from on high. From this story, we are reminded of the importance of waiting upon God. Plus, we remember that God has poured out the Spirit upon us to empower us for the ministry to which we are called today. The Holy Spirit dwells in us to enable us to do the work of God in every part of life.

Today’s devotion is part of the series Following Jesus Today.

Devotion

In yesterday’s devotion, we examined what I called “The Greatest Bible Study Ever.” This was the study taught by Jesus to his disciples after the resurrection. Jesus, the master teacher, opened the minds of his disciples to see how his life, ministry, suffering, and death were found in the Hebrew Scriptures, including “the law of Moses, the prophets, and the psalms” (Luke 24:44-45).

Jesus also showed where “it is written . . . that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning with Jerusalem” (Luke 24:46). Luke doesn’t identify the passages in the Old Testament that Jesus referenced. I expect he may have mentioned several from Isaiah, including Isaiah 49:6, “It is too light a thing that you should be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob and to restore the survivors of Israel; I will give you as a light to the nations, that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth.”

But Jesus did not tell his disciples to go out immediately and start proclaiming the good news of his death and resurrection. Rather, he told them, “[S]tay here in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high” (Luke 24:49). Jesus did not explain what this power was, only that he was “sending upon [his disciples] what my Father promised” (24:49). This promise would surely have included what the prophet Joel said about the future outpouring of the Holy Spirit “on all flesh,” which would empower young and old, men and women, powerful and weak, slave and free to do God’s mighty work (Joel 2:28-29).

Since we are familiar with the story of early Christianity, we know that Jesus was in fact referring to what happened on the day of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit fell upon the disciples of Jesus, miraculously empowering them to speak about “God’s deeds of power” in languages they themselves did not know (Acts 2:12). After this outpouring of the Spirit, the disciples of Jesus did proclaim “repentance and forgiveness of sins” in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. The first part of this story is narrated in Luke’s second volume, which we know as the Acts of the Apostles.

Much could be said about the relevance of Luke 24:45-49 to us. Today I want to share with you two basic implications of this passage. First, though we, as contemporary disciples of Jesus, are called into his mission, and though we have plenty of work to do, there are times when it is right to wait upon God rather than charging ahead. Those of us who are action-oriented might have a hard time with waiting. I know I do. But Scripture teaches and experience confirms that before launching some new work, even one inspired by God, good things happen when we wait upon the Lord.

Second, the disciples were to wait, not only because waiting on God has value in and of itself, but also and especially because they needed “power from on high” in order to do the work to which they had been called (Luke 24:49). There is no way the disciples of Jesus would have been able to persuade people of the truth of the gospel apart from the power of the Spirit. What was true then is true today. The good news of Jesus is not something our culture inclines us to embrace. And it doesn’t help that so many Christians have lived in a way that contradicts the truth and grace of God. So, if we are going to share the good news in a way that draws people to Christ, we need the same power Jesus promised to the first disciples. We need the power of God’s Spirit living in us and among us.

Of course, for us, there is great news. What Jesus once promised to his first disciples was given at Pentecost as the Holy Spirit was poured out on the followers of Jesus. Since then, that same Spirit is given to each person who says “Yes” to Jesus (see, for example, Romans 8:9-11).

Veni Sancte Spiritus!

P.S. That Latin phrase means “Come, Holy Spirit!” Christians throughout the world have used this prayer, in Latin or other languages, for centuries.

Reflect

How are you when it comes to waiting on the Lord? If you’re good at waiting, why? If you tend to rush ahead of God’s leading, why?

When in your life have you experienced the power of the Holy Spirit?

How aware are you of God’s Spirit when you are not in “obviously spiritual” settings? What helps you to attend to the guidance of the Spirit no matter where you are?

Act

Set aside sometime in the next few days to wait upon the Lord. Don’t fill the time with your plans. Rather, be open to God’s presence and Spirit as you wait.

Pray

Gracious God, thank you for the times when I have waited on you. Thank you for what you’ve done for me during those times, helping me to grow and trust.

Thank you also, Lord, for the “power from on high” that you give to your people. Thank you for the fact that your Spirit dwells within me. Thank you for guiding me, encouraging me, healing me, and empowering me for your service.

Help me, Lord, to be attentive to your Spirit at all times, whether I’m at work or home, in the community or the grocery store, on the freeway, or on the soccer field. Work in and through me by your power, I pray, for your glory! Amen.

Find all Life for Leaders devotions here. Explore what the Bible has to say about work at the unique website of our partners, the Theology of Work Project. Commentary on today’s Life for Leaders theme can be found here: Introduction to Acts


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