At his ascension, Jesus told his followers, “…wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about (Acts 1:4).”
The church does not go out in its own power. Her power comes from another. Jesus said to wait, because they were not to continue his ministry in their own power. Many today try to accomplish the mighty works of God in their own power with paltry results. Jesus sends out the church to heal the sick, minister to the poor, stand up for the down trodden, and bring back the lost into God’s fold. The church goes out preaching the Word of God, evangelizing, and exhibiting the Kingdom of God to the world. The mission of the church requires an effort that exceeds human strength.
Jesus said to wait. Up to that point they had failed to follow their master. Most of Jesus’ followers fled when Jesus was arrested. Peter denied him three times. The fishermen returned to their boats, expecting that the adventure of a life time ended with their master’s death. Jesus said to wait, because they needed to learn they could not continue his work in their own strength.
Not only could Jesus’ followers not continue his work on their own, history tells us no one ever has. Israel was given the promises and commandments, even a fruitful land. They had everything they needed to flourish. God cared for and nurtured Israel like a good parent nurtures his or her child. Yet, not terribly far from Egypt, they constructed the golden calf. The Book of Judges follows the Book of Joshua. It would scarcely take much more than a generation for those who said, “We will serve the Lord our God and obey him (Joshua 24:24),” to disobey.
Why do I do the things I do not want to do? Why do I not do the things I want to do? The will is weak, but God is strong. We need the promise of the Farther, the power from on high. We need the promised Holy Spirit.
Thank God Jesus came, died, rose from the dead, and entered into heaven to pour out the Spirit on his children. Will we admit our sin and inability to obey God’s good commands? Will we turn to God’s One and Only Son, Jesus Christ? Will we receive that power from on high, his Holy Spirit? Scarcely can we do anything in this world of eternal value without God’s gracious gift of the Holy Spirit.