"And He led them out as far as Bethany, and He lifted up His hands and blessed them. While He was blessing them, He parted from them and was carried into Heaven." Luke 24:50
Principle: Prayer is the greatest preparation for heaven and the greatest reflection of the Glory of God.
The physical Presence of Jesus had to be removed from the presence of the disciples, before they could be blessed with the Person of the Holy Spirit. Jesus guided them to the understanding that prayer was going to be the language of Heaven, and would be the means by which God would respond to their need for help. When Jesus went away, He would intercede for His followers and ask the Father to send them a Helper who would be with them forever.
"If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it. If you love Me, you will keep My commandments. And I will ask the Father and He will give you another Helper that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not behold Him or know Him, but you may know Him because He abides with you and will be in you." John 14:14-17
Prior to His death, Jesus told His disciples that it was to their advantage that He go away. Jesus knew His disciples must come to the end of themselves before they would come to the beginning of God. They need to have sense of their own weakness before God would trust the power of His Spirit to do a great work in and through them.
"But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper shall not come to you, but if I go, I will send Him to you." John 16:7
The blessing of Jesus upon the disciples ushered in a whole new dimension in the relationship between Master and disciple. The disciples would sense a great loss when Jesus ascended into Heaven. He would not leave them without a Helper. The Holy Spirit would would always give glory to Jesus. The greatest glory of Jesus would be the changed lives of the people who would be a part of His church.
"He shall glorify Me, for He shall take of Mine, and shall disclose it to you." John 16:14
Following His resurrection, Jesus spent forty days on earth teaching His disciples about the Kingdom of Heaven, and their mission on earth. His Ascension to Heaven was a culmination of this important work. It was preceded by a blessing of His disciples. His prayer was a prelude to the fulfillment of the Promise they were to receive at Pentecost.
The blessing of the disciples led them to ask for a blessing themselves. Jesus could pray for them, but Jesus would not do all their praying for them. They must go to God in prayer and ask in the name of Jesus for the Promise to be delivered to them.
Prior to Pentecost, the disciples gathered in an Upper Room and prayed for ten days. In answer to their prayers and in accordance with God's will the Holy Spirit was given to them. The Holy Spirit was not "created" at Pentecost, but His work would be expanded. No longer would His Presence be limited to a specific person, for a specific task, for a specific period of time. He would take up permanent and personal residence in the lives of Christ followers.
Without glorification of the Risen Christ there would be no gift of the Spirit provided at Pentecost. The purpose of the Holy Spirit was to glorify Jesus on earth. This glorification is a reflection of the Presence of God. Jesus ascended into the Presence of His Father, and reflected the light of His face onto the lives of His followers. This blessing from Jesus reflected His special relationship with His Father. The disciples needed this same kind of intimacy to reflect the face of a loving Father into the lives of people in need of His love.
The Presence of the Holy Spirit does His greatest work in the life of the Christ follower by encouraging the practice of prayer. The character of Christ is unleashed in the life of the believer through the power of prayer. When the disciples came to a sense of their own weakness, they came into the Presence of God through prayer. They would take the blessing of Jesus, and turn it into a prayer meeting calling out for the Promise of God. The Holy Spirit changed their lives forever. What may have begun as prayers for a change of their circumstances transformed them. These changed people changed the world by reflecting the love of God and the character of Christ in a hostile world. The Holy Spirit still does the same work through the power of prayer.
The Practice of Prayer: Set aside a time each day to make yourself available to God in prayer. Ask Him to take control of your life through the Person of the Holy Spirit.
Thought for the Day: You have the same person of the Holy Spirit and all of His power available to you that was given to the first century Christians. You do not need more of Him. He needs more of you.
"God's people have always in their worst condition found out the best of their God. He is good at all times; but He seemeth to be at His best when they are at their worst. They who dive in the sea of affliction bring up rare pearls." Charles Haddon Spurgeon