Wayne Hart presented this on May 22, the day before Pentecost.
The city of Jerusalem was reeling from the events of Passover in the early 30’s AD. The headlines “Body Missing!” and “‘Jesus Alive!’ Claim Disciples” in the “Capernaum Sun” and “Jerusalem Leader” [note: obviously fictional headlines and names based on newspapers in the Regina area for comedic effect]. Believe it or not, Jesus was busy during the time between His resurrection and His ascension to heaven.
Most Christians remember the story of how the gift of the power of the Holy Spirit was given to the disciples on Pentecost day. During the time leading up to that dramatic effect, Jesus was busy giving other gifts to his people. Though by no means is this an exhaustive list, here are seven gifts he gave his church while they were waiting with Him for “power from on high.” You can probably find many more if you look for them in the Gospels.
1. Hope. In Mark 16:1-8 he begins to show himself to his disciples, starting with the women at the tomb. Mary and Martha may have found it easy to believe when the angel told them that Jesus was raised up, because they had witnessed the reviving of their own brother after a few days. They also had scriptural examples from the prophets Elijah and Elisha.
2. Instruction. In John 20:3-9 Jesus’ disciples are said not to have understood the scriptures about Jesus rising from the dead, but Jesus soon puts that right. On the road to Emmaus later that day, Jesus tells Cleopas and another disciple how all the events of his life were predicted in the scriptures(Luke 24:13-24).
3. Courage. Jesus gives them the authority to forgive and withhold forgiveness of sin, which had up to then been the sole prerogative of God. It takes courage to forgive sin in Jesus’ service.
4. Faith. Jesus goes out of his way to show himself to Thomas to remove his doubt. Notice Thomas’ response in John 20:24-19, “My Lord and my God!”
5. Vision. In John 21:1-7 Jesus again shows himself to his disciples, who had gone fishing in Galilee to get away from their responsibilities as Jesus’ disciples. Jesus dramatically shows them that he can give them everything they need to “feed the flock” by telling them to cast the net out of the other side of the boat. When Jesus later tells him to “feed the flock” Peter is meant to understand that Jesus supplies both the vision and the means to accomplish his vision. In other words, Jesus prepared the man who would be his chief spokesperson at Pentecost by giving him vision while still on earth.
6. The Great Commission. In Matthew 28:18-20 Jesus gives his disciples a command to teach/make disciples by virtue of the authority he had been granted over everything heaven and on earth. Now that’s a commission!
7. Promise. He makes a promise (Luke 24:49) that begins to be fulfilled at Pentecost: empowerment by the Holy Spirit. This is the Holy Spirit who gave Peter boldness and conviction for his very first recorded sermon. The same Holy Spirit who translated Peter’s words into the languages of all his listeners. The same Holy Spirit who gives varied and wonderful gifts to his church for the benefit of all members and the working out of Jesus’ will on earth.
Jesus was not idle during that 40 days until his ascension. He was busily laying the foundation for our salvation by preparing his messengers to preach the gospel in the power and under the direction of the Holy Spirit. Let us be mindful of the value of all the gifts he gave his church – and live our lives accordingly.