Sunday, June 12, 2011

The Promise of the Father


After the resurrection and before He ascended to His throne at the right hand of the Father, Jesus was with the disciples, “being seen by them during forty days and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God” (Acts 1:3). His whole ministry had been about the kingdom of God. Jesus came preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God: “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel” (Mark 1:15). He promised the disciples, “Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom” (Luke 12:32). But now, He spoke about the promise and the kingdom in a different way.
And being assembled together with them, He commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father, “which,” He said, “you have heard from Me; for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” (Acts 1:4-5)
The same words are also recorded in the Gospel of Luke (the book of Acts was also written by Luke). “Behold, I send the Promise of My Father upon you; but tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high” (Luke 24:49). The “promise of the Father” was the promise God made through the prophets:
I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them. Then you shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; you shall be My people, and I will be your God. (Ezekiel 36:26-28)

And it shall come to pass afterward
That I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh;
Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
Your old men shall dream dreams,
Your young men shall see visions.
And also on My menservants and on My maidservants
I will pour out My Spirit in those days.
And I will show wonders in the heavens and in the earth:
Blood and fire and pillars of smoke.
The sun shall be turned into darkness,
And the moon into blood,
Before the coming of the great and awesome day of the Lord.
(Joel 2:28-31)
These prophetic promises spoke of the messianic age, the day of God’s new covenant (see Jeremiah 31 and Ezekiel 37). He preached about the kingdom of God and demonstrated the power of it throughout His ministry in signs and miracles. He established the new covenant, based on better promises than the old one had been (Hebrews 8:6), and He cut it in His own blood. “This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you,” He said on the night He established the Table of the Lord (Luke 22:20). On that same night, He also spoke of the coming of the Holy Spirit:
I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever — the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you. I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you. (John 14:16-18)

The Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you. (John 14:26)

When the Helper comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify of Me. And you also will bear witness, because you have been with Me from the beginning. (John 15:26-27)

It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you. And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: of sin, because they do not believe in Me; of righteousness, because I go to My Father and you see Me no more; of judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged. I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you. All things that the Father has are Mine. Therefore I said that He will take of Mine and declare it to you. (John 16:7-15)
Now, on the fortieth day after the resurrection, the disciples asked, “Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” (Acts 1:6). Jesus answered:
It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority. But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth. (Acts 1:7-8)
Jesus did not ignore their question; He answered it in a way they were not expecting. They wanted to know about the timing of the kingdom. The Greek word for “time” here is chronos, that is, chronological time, the sequence of time measured by calendars and clocks. He did not answer with regard to the chronos of the kingdom. There is another Greek word for time, kairos, which refers to the fullness or ripeness of time, the acute moment of significant fulfillment. But Jesus did not speak to them of kairos, which is translated here as “seasons.” He answered, instead, with regard to the nature and the power of the kingdom. They wanted to know when the kingdom would come; Jesus told them how the kingdom would come.

It would come in the power of the Holy Spirit, the same power by which He had performed all His kingdom miracles. When they understood the how of the kingdom, they would know the when. They would be the witnesses, bringing the evidence of it to all the world and testifying about Jesus. Jesus’ ministry was about the kingdom; the ministry of the Holy Spirit would be about the ministry of Jesus. The promise of the Father was about the Spirit — and the kingdom of God.

The Church season of Pentecost celebrates the fulfillment of that promise.