Looking backwards in time at that Pentecost(knowing what we know), it’s easy to assume that the disciples knew what was coming. The scriptures show that their understanding was incomplete. Let’s start with what they learned fron Jesus the night before He was betrayed.
John 13:34-35 The Message (MSG)
34-35 “Let me give you a new command: Love one another. In the same way I loved you, you love one another. This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples—when they see the love you have for each other.”
Jesus gives them the command to love each other in the same way that He loved them. We don’t know what went through their minds when they heard this. Did they believe that they could do this by their own efforts? After all that’s the way that they were expected to obey the law, the covenant mediated by Moses at Mount Sinai. While Jesus was speaking to them, He told them a number of times about someone who was going to be sent to them.
John 14:15-17 The Message (MSG)
The Spirit of Truth
15-17 “If you love me, show it by doing what I’ve told you. I will talk to the Father, and he’ll provide you another Friend so that you will always have someone with you. This Friend is the Spirit of Truth. The godless world can’t take him in because it doesn’t have eyes to see him, doesn’t know what to look for. But you know him already because he has been staying with you, and will even be in you!
John 14:25-27 The Message (MSG)
25-27 “I’m telling you these things while I’m still living with you. The Friend, the Holy Spirit whom the Father will send at my request, will make everything plain to you. He will remind you of all the things I have told you. I’m leaving you well and whole. That’s my parting gift to you. Peace. I don’t leave you the way you’re used to being left—feeling abandoned, bereft. So don’t be upset. Don’t be distraught.
John 15:26-27 The Message (MSG)
26-27 “When the Friend I plan to send you from the Father comes—the Spirit of Truth issuing from the Father—he will confirm everything about me. You, too, from your side must give your confirming evidence, since you are in this with me from the start.”
John 16:4-15 The Message (MSG)
4-7 “I didn’t tell you this earlier because I was with you every day. But now I am on my way to the One who sent me. Not one of you has asked, ‘Where are you going?’ Instead, the longer I’ve talked, the sadder you’ve become. So let me say it again, this truth: It’s better for you that I leave. If I don’t leave, the Friend won’t come. But if I go, I’ll send him to you.
8-11 “When he comes, he’ll expose the error of the godless world’s view of sin, righteousness, and judgment: He’ll show them that their refusal to believe in me is their basic sin; that righteousness comes from above, where I am with the Father, out of their sight and control; that judgment takes place as the ruler of this godless world is brought to trial and convicted.
12-15 “I still have many things to tell you, but you can’t handle them now. But when the Friend comes, the Spirit of the Truth, he will take you by the hand and guide you into all the truth there is. He won’t draw attention to himself, but will make sense out of what is about to happen and, indeed, out of all that I have done and said. He will honor me; he will take from me and deliver it to you. Everything the Father has is also mine. That is why I’ve said, ‘He takes from me and delivers to you.’
This someone who Jesus called The Friend and The Spirit of the Truth would be sent, from God the Father, who they didn’t know existed before Jesus revealed Him to them. Now they were hearing about someone else referred to as the Friend and the Spirit of Truth. This someone would be sent by Jesus, and by the Father. Did this seem a contradiction to them? Please understand that they were just starting to learn that there is one God in three Persons.
So what did they make of what Jesus told them? That the One to be sent was a spirit, not a man. They knew that God’s holy angels were spirits. But no angel ever did the things that Jesus told them The Spirit of the Truth would do. No angel was ever called a friend to humans. No angel ever revealed all the things mentioned in John 16: 8-11, please read those verses again. No angel was ever inside a man or woman. And although there is mention in scripture of angels guiding someone to a physical location, they did not guide people to the truth. To us it may seem that the answer is obvious. The Friend, the Spirit of the Truth couldn’t be an angel, so He had to be God. But that’s because we did not grow up with an incomplete understanding of the Godhead. But they had no time to think it over, or to ask Jesus questions about these teachings. Spiritually major events starting happening fast, one right after the other. Jesus was arrested, He was put on trial, condemmed to death, and executed. Then a few days later while they were still in shock over these events, He was resurrected! What did the disciples make of all that?! We’re going to pick up the story again just before Jesus asended into heaven.
Acts 1:6-11 The Message (MSG)
6 When they were together for the last time they asked, “Master, are you going to restore the kingdom to Israel now? Is this the time?”
7-8 He told them, “You don’t get to know the time. Timing is the Father’s business. What you’ll get is the Holy Spirit. And when the Holy Spirit comes on you, you will be able to be my witnesses in Jerusalem, all over Judea and Samaria, even to the ends of the world.”
9-11 These were his last words. As they watched, Jesus was taken up and disappeared in a cloud. They stood there, staring into the empty sky. Suddenly two men appeared—in white robes! They said, “You Galileans!—why do you just stand here looking up at an empty sky? This very Jesus who was taken up from among you to heaven will come as certainly—and mysteriously—as he left.”
Even at the very end of Jesus’ ministry on earth, His disciples were trying to understand what God would do based on their incomplete understanding of what Jesus had taught them. Their question in vs6 was about the physical. In other words, would Jesus declare Himself king? Would He free the land of Judea from the Roman Empire? Would this physical kingdom be a place of peace and prosperity? The answer was no, they would get something much better, spiritual blessings! They would receive the benefits of God’s love.They would receive the Holy Spirit, and witness about Jesus. People would be spiritually freed from sin and spiritually blessed.
John 3:16-18 The Message (MSG)
16-18 “This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again. Anyone who trusts in him is acquitted; anyone who refuses to trust him has long since been under the death sentence without knowing it. And why? Because of that person’s failure to believe in the one-of-a-kind Son of God when introduced to him.
And finally this is what the disciples learned and experenced from the Holy Spirit(read Acts 2 for details). They learned
that the the power of The Holy Spirit could do what they could not. They could could not preach like that by themselves, must less convict anyone of sin, much less have them repent and accept Jesus as their lord and Savior, but the Holy Spirit could. Only He, the Helper, could make it possible for them to be and do what God wanted them to be and do.
In His love and service,
copyright 2020, Pastors George and Sharon Billington, Christ’s Disciples Ministry, All Rights Reserved