Waiting with the Disciples in the Upper Room

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Devotional Word for Friday, May 29, 2020

It’s absolutely fascinating to speculate on the condition of the souls of the followers of Jesus in the days between His Ascension and the Day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit was poured out. They had every reason to be fearful of their future – they were known associates, close associates – of a Man executed for a capital offense. The Jewish authorities were not known for any tenderhearted tendencies! Jerusalem was a particularly dangerous place to be; they’d be much safer in the hills of Galilee. Yet, we find them for 10 consecutive days staying in Jerusalem. Scripture records only one action they took during those 10 days. But that action allows us to see the condition of their souls! 

They determined to choose someone to replace Judas Iscariot. What’s so remarkable about that, you might ask. For one thing, it shows they are thinking of the 12 disciples as a specific entity. The disciples, as well as the rest of Jesus’ followers, are not going back to what they were three years earlier. What is it the 12 disciples are going to if they’re not going back?

Peter explains it quite clearly. After quoting from Psalms 69 and 109, he says this: Therefore it is necessary that of the men who have accompanied us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us – beginning with the baptism of John until the day that He was taken up from us [that’s the Ascension] – one of these must become a witness with us of His resurrection. [Acts 1:21-22] How’s that for vision! From fearful hiding from the Jews on Resurrection evening to a firm resolution to be a witness of Jesus’ resurrection, that is, to declare that Jesus really is the Messiah, the Son of God, the very charge for which Jesus was executed!

I think it’s safe to say the disciples and followers of Jesus were not hiding out in that Upper Room, cowering and fearful, for those 10 days. Instead, they were convinced of the truth of who Jesus was and were determined to make His identity and purpose known. They were waiting with great expectations. They didn’t know what they were waiting for, but they knew it was coming. I would imagine a text like Habakkuk 2:3 would have been remembered: For the vision is yet for the appointed time; It hastens toward the goal and it will not fail. Though it tarries, wait for it; For it will certainly come, it will not delay. And it did come. This Sunday is Pentecost, and as Acts 2:1 says: When the day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all together in one place, and suddenly . . . well, you know the rest of the story.

That’s the then and there, how about the here and now for us? Ephesians 5:15-20 provides an apt application for us. Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil. OK, just as the disciples and followers of Jesus in Acts 1 were careful to do what He said, namely, stay in Jerusalem and wait, so ought we to be wise and listen to Him.

The text continues this way: So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. Foolish folk are those who take no account of God, who do not seek His will, but carelessly go their own way. The text goes on: And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit. Aha! The will of God is that we wait for, look for, and receive the Holy Spirit as well. Oh, that’s good to know. What might this look like?

The text tells us, speaking to one another [or, speaking to yourselves, that is, your inner man’s reflections] in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord. Can you believe it – we’re exhorted about singing, again! In what circumstances might we do this? Here’s the text: always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father. 

I’m glad to be a Pentecostal. I hope you’re one! It’s not just the “Second Blessing” that I’m talking about. Rather it is the ongoing, repeated infillings of the Holy Spirit that Christians ought to experience. The disciples were not only filled with the Holy Spirit on Pentecost, they experienced repeated works of the Holy Spirit in their lives. None of those infillings, so far as I know, replicated the wind and fire of Pentecost Day, but each work of the Spirit was an empowering, comforting, and inspiring occasion. May God grant us the grace to seek and to experience the ongoing work of the Holy Spirit in our lives.

Let us pray: Lord Jesus, thank You for Your great work in Your disciples. You transformed them by Your mercy and grace. Then You poured out the Holy Spirit on them. You empowered them to be witnesses for You. You gave them a hunger to know what is pleasing and acceptable to You. Lord Jesus, we hunger in the same way. We want to be Your witnesses. We want to do what is pleasing and acceptable in Your sight. Send and send again and send again and again Your Holy Spirit to minister in us and through us. May Your name be praised forever and ever. Amen.