Praying til Pentecost Day 22
"Receive the Holy Spirit." John 20:22
The message of the Risen Christ to the eleven disciples included a mandate for His mission and the means to achieve it. First they would have to accept the mandate. Before there was any power for the mission, there would have to be an awareness of their weakness for the task. The scope of the vision, and the strength of the enemy made a daunting war look impossible to win.
God specializes in doing the impossible with some of the most improbable people. A quick look around the room at the faces of the ten disciples would not build up a lot of confidence. These were the chosen few who would lead the way in carrying out the world wide movement of God. Among them were a political zealot, a few fishermen, a tax collector, men with anger issues, and an assortment of other wannabees and underachievers. Thomas was conspicuously absent from the gathering mentioned in John's account. Eight days later he would receive a personal visit and a mild rebuke from the Risen Lord for his "seeing is believing" kind of faith. The prospects of Kingdom growth did not look good.
From the motley crew of men hiding out in fear of their lives would rise up and spread out around the globe the message of hope for a lost world. In a few short days they would be transformed into courageous and eloquent spokesmen for the cause of the Risen Christ. What they needed for this transformation to take place had not been received yet.
Jesus told them He would send them out to do what His Father had sent Him to do. He breathed on them and told them, "Receive the Holy Spirit." This was not a little bit of the Spirit, or an early spark of the "flames of fire" that would come at Pentecost. This was a forecast of the spiritual dynamic that would be in play in the post resurrection world. They would be leaving a physical relationship with Jesus, and entering into a spiritual relationship with the Spirit of Christ. To receive the power of the Holy Spirit, they would have to breath in the Person of the Holy Spirit. Their willingness to receive would be preceded by a breathless anticipation. They would have to be out of breath before they recognized the stale air of personal effort and marginal ability was not enough for them to carry out the assignment they had been given. The loss of the physical Presence of Jesus would be replaced by the Promise of God.
One of the great joys of being raised in a Texas church has been the phenomenal "dinner on the grounds" celebrations. It doesn't take much effort to find a reason to throw a feed at a church. Any excuse will do. People who are new to this kind of event are always flabbergasted by the amount of food that is piled up on the tables. They are always amazed at the way the system works. It may not be a "loaves and fishes" kind of a miracle, but it is a pretty unusual way to plan a meal. You bring what little bit you have to the table, and you get to take part in a buffet of bounty. Over the years I have watched people bring everything from a sack full of greasy bologna sandwiches to a pan full of burned bottom biscuits. It just didn't matter. They did what they could do, and they were welcome at the table. One hundred percent of success in this kind of deal is showing up with what you can bring to the table, in order to get in on what you will never receive by sitting at home and pouting about how little you have. Receiving an invitation to one of these gatherings is an experience you do not want to ignore.
The disciples had come to the end of their rope. They had talked the crucifixion of Jesus to death and still did not have a grasp on the power of His resurrection. They were not breathless in anticipation of the Risen Lord, but out of breath from conversation with one another. They had been presented with a series of problems, and their math did not add up. Prayer had not entered into the equation before Jesus entered into the room.
When Jesus breathed into the stale air of a locked room, He unleashed a dynamic that would change the lives of a few men, and they would lead the way to transforming the lives of millions of people. It would all begin with the word receive. To receive what the Spirit could offer to them, they would have to come to the point of their need. When they brought what little they had to the table, God provided abundantly all they would ever need to carry out His mission.
Praying men and women are still in a position to receive what the Spirit brings to the table. People who are breathless in prayer can expect to have power for the journey. "Prayer is how we set our sails to catch the breath of Heaven." G. Campbell Morgan
Quote of the Day: "We do what we believe in; all the rest is just religious talk." Peter Lord