Summary: Jesus shone the light on the need to repent. The same light allows us to take in the Scriptures and feast on the Word. In return, we are to preach repentance and remission of sins in Jesus’ name to all nations.
This past Sunday I preached and led worship at the United Church in Bridgewater. During the children’s talk I mentioned that Jesus told his disciples that he would be returning to the Father, but that they would receive the Holy Spirit. I compared the Holy Spirit to the batteries in a flashlight.
Light is amazing. Without it, we would not be able to read and discover the world around us. Just like we need physical light to see the world around us, we need spiritual light to see and understand God. Jesus is that spiritual light, and we see in Luke 24:44-53 how he shined a spiritual light on the disciples before his ascension. He helped the disciples to see that shining a light on sin helps those who have lost their way to see him, and he helps us to see the same thing today. He also shined a light on the Old Testament prophecies about his death and resurrection. Luke reminds us that Jesus came to satisfy all of the prophecies made about him in the Old Testament.
The disciples heard the Lord preach many times. They watched him perform miracles for at least three years. They saw him crucified and now they stood in his resurrected presence, but until the Lord opened their minds to understand the Scriptures they did not truly understand everything. Spiritual understanding comes through the Holy Spirit, or it doesn’t come at all. True understanding of the Scriptures is a gift from God. It allows us to understand how all of the parts of God’s plan of salvation fit together. Part of that plan includes Jesus’ death and resurrection. The disciples and other followers, including modern-day followers, would gain further understanding through the work of the Holy Spirit. In return, they would be able to fulfill their commission as Jesus’ witnesses.
In order for the Holy Spirit to come and continue Christ’s work, Jesus had to leave and return to the Father. Jesus in human form could only be in one place at a time, but the Holy Spirit can be everywhere all of the time. When Jesus blessed the disciples before his ascension, he probably showed gratitude to those who chose to walk with him. If we walk with him today, we will hear the Holy Spirit use similar words.
The Holy Spirit reminds us of how much Christ loves us and the sacrifice he made so that we could regain fellowship with God. The Holy Spirit guides and strengthens us. It steers us away from danger and toward truth. When the Holy Spirit lives in us, we are healed, changed, freed and sent on missions because God lives in us. It opens our minds to receive God’s truth. It enables us to withstand all of life’s challenges. Without it, we will be defeated by the world.
Even after the disciples believed that Jesus Christ had risen from the dead, they did not become effective witnesses until the Holy Spirit came at Pentecost. Jesus told the disciples to wait in Jerusalem until the Spirit came and filled them with his power and authority. Knowledge and conviction aren’t enough. The Christian mission depends on the ongoing ministry of the Holy Spirit for its success.