Posts Tagged Acts 1: 4 – 5

Living Water

John 7: 37 – 39

Now on the last day, the great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.’” But this He spoke of the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were to receive; for the Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.

This verse is enlightening, and I believe it brings a certain amount of joy as well. It celebrates both Jesus and the Holy Spirit. What word jumps out at you from the passage? I am intrigued by the word “cried.”

As I read the gospels I perceive Jesus as very cool under fire. When put on the spot, he once simply knelt down and began to doodle in the dirt. This is not the person I think of “crying out.” It is no great leap to conjecture that this message was of keen importance to Jesus. Can you picture this scene? Apparently, everyone was seated because Jesus stood. They were feasting. Who was there? How many people do you reckon were gathered? In the midst of the feast Jesus stood up and cried out with a loud voice. Wow! That must have been a sight. One can certainly suppose that the message was vital for Jesus to interrupt the feast and to make such a spectacle of himself.

Interestingly enough, the message was not about salvation. It wasn’t even about sin. Why didn’t he jump up and say, “Come all you sinners. I will save your soul from eternity in hell.” That is what most of us would expect but only because we don’t know Jesus well enough. Jesus took care of the sin problem. He conquered hell. His real message is displayed in this cry. “Come to me all you who are thirsty. I will satisfy your thirst.”

How did Jesus plan to satisfy the deep and enduring thirsty within us? He already knew about the Father’s plan to send the Holy Spirit into the earth. God made the promise back in Joel 2: 28. Then John the Baptist revealed that Jesus would baptize us in the Holy Spirit (Matthew 3: 11). Now, here, in the early chapters of John we discover that those who believe in Jesus were to receive the Spirit. Right before Jesus’ exit from planet earth he gathered his followers and advised them. He was passing the torch to all who would follow him. He told them not to leave Jerusalem “but to wait for what the Father had promised . . . for John baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit,” (Acts 1: 4 – 5). Then Jesus was taken up in a cloud of glory. He was glorified in the earth and in heaven as his disciples watched.

So, Jesus’ essential message was come, receive the filling of the Holy Spirit so that you will never again thirst. The living water of the Holy Spirit is a river flowing in the spirit of those who ask and receive. The invitation was simple, “Come,” Jesus said. Anyone who is thirsty is invited to the well. As Jesus said to the Samaritan woman at the well, he says also to you, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water,” (John 4: 10). Receive the living water. Be filled and satisfied.

Immersed

Acts 1: 4 – 5

Gathering them together, He commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for what the Father had promised, “Which,” He said, “you heard of from Me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”

John the Baptist was the voice crying out in the desert, “Prepare the way for the Lord,” (Matthew 3: 3). He announced the coming of the Messiah and prepared the way of his coming. “As for me,” he said, “I baptize you with water for repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, and I am not fit to remove His sandals; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire,” (Matthew 3: 11).

I don’t know if there is any more misunderstood spiritual directive in the whole Bible as this. I think it may be so challenging, in part at least, because there is nothing physical in this baptism. The practice of water baptism is easy to recognize and follow because there is a physical element involved. Whether a person is sprinkled, dunked or has a pail of water poured over them, we understand the principle involved.

This idea was baffling for the early church believers as well. Even John the Baptist said, “And I myself did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit,” (John 1: 33). John didn’t know exactly what to expect either, but he knew God had spoken about this new baptism and how to recognize he who would author it. As we see from this scripture, the first phase of this new paradigm was for Jesus to receive the Holy Spirit. God identified the Holy Spirit baptizer to John the Baptist as the one upon whom the Spirit remains.

Fast forward – Jesus has come, gone to the cross, was buried and arose. After his resurrection he appeared to his followers. After greeting them, “He breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit,” (John 20: 22). Are some of the circles beginning to close for you? Jesus has taken us right back to breath. After this he appeared to them again and told them not to leave Jerusalem but rather to await for that which the Father promised. Then he spoke today’s verse. The Apostles were commanded to remain and receive the baptism in the Holy Spirit.

This baptism is recorded in Acts 2, “When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a noise like a violent rushing wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them tongues as of fire distributing themselves, and they rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit was giving them utterance,” (Acts 2: 1 – 4). Don’t you find this exciting? It makes me want to shout. Can you picture how elated the Apostles were that day?

This became the new normal for the Apostles. They now had a revelation of what was spoken in the earliest days of Jesus’ ministry. No longer was it theology for them. This baptism in the fire of the Holy Spirit became their reality. Later when Peter was called to minister to the Gentiles he saw the same outpouring of the Spirit on them whereupon he remarked, “And I remembered the word of the Lord, how He used to say, ‘John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’” (Acts 11: 16).

I would fail you if I didn’t include the Apostle Paul. Paul came to understand this new baptism as well or better than anyone. In fact, if you run your search on the Spirit in the New Testament you will get a feel for how well acquainted with the Holy Spirit Paul was. Related to the Holy Spirit baptism, “He said to them, ‘Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?’ And they said to him, ‘No, we have not even heard whether there is a Holy Spirit.’ And he said, ‘Into what then were you baptized?’ And they said, ‘Into John’s baptism.’ Paul said, ‘John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in Him who was coming after him, that is, in Jesus.’ When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they began speaking with tongues and prophesying,” (Acts 19: 2 – 6).

Paul divulges that there is a new baptism, the baptism in the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is a free gift from the Father. None the less, there appears to be something required of us. Otherwise, all of these faithful believers would have automatically received the gift when first they believed. When they heard from Paul about the baptism of Jesus in the Holy Spirit, they must have asked to receive the baptism right then because the next thing that happened is that Paul laid his hands on them and the Holy Spirit came on them.

This baptism is for all of us too. Our Father promised thousands of years ago that He would pour out His Spirit to every person. No one is left out of the promise. John the Baptist came and prepared the way for Jesus proclaiming that Jesus would baptize us in the Holy Spirit and fire. Jesus ushered in the Spirit saying, “I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth,” (John 14: 16). We know that Jesus does not lie and we have the evidence of Acts 2 that He and the Father have fulfilled their obligation. There is nothing left but for us to bathe ourselves in this anointing from God and be showered with the Holy Spirit of God.

Fertile Desert

Isaiah 32: 16 -18

The Lord’s justice will dwell in the desert, his righteousness live in the fertile field. The fruit of that righteousness will be peace; its effect will be quietness and confidence forever. My people will live in peaceful dwelling places, in secure homes, in undisturbed places of rest.

Glory! Hallelujah! Does this strike you as good news? Or, perhaps, great news! I can even sweeten this by telling you when this is to happen. This is for you today.

The problem with many Old Testament verses is that people stumble over the timing. That is understandable. I will tell you that most of them are fulfilled in Jesus if you ever have doubt. The great thing about today’s verse is that Isaiah actually told us when this would become a reality. In verse 15 he disclosed that this change in the environment, this change in the world would come when “the Spirit is poured out upon us from on high.” Yahoo!

Jesus promised us another. In fact, he said it was better for us that he leave earth so that he could send the helper (John 16: 7). He told his disciples not to leave Jerusalem until they received that which was promised, or in other words, the Holy Spirit (Acts 1: 4 – 5). Then, on the day of Pentecost, the promise was fulfilled and the Holy Spirit was poured out from on high. You and I are not living in the time of which Isaiah spoke. This prophecy is for our time. We should take great joy in this good news.

Isaiah saw that because of the coming of the Holy Spirit we could live in peace and righteousness. This concept is very in keeping with other New Testament text. Paul wrote that we have become the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus (2 Corinthians 5: 21) and did you know that Jesus is the Prince of Peace? Additionally, when he left earth, he left us his peace (John 14: 27). Increasingly, we are seeing all of the pieces fitting together. It shouldn’t be any surprise, though, because all of this was part of God’s master plan. He knew when He whispered in Isaiah’s ear that this day would come and that what He told Isaiah would be fulfilled in our sight.

There is a key to unlocking all of this though. The key is the Holy Spirit. Jesus said that he is the “Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not behold Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you, and will be in you” (John 14: 17). It is the “in you” piece that is so revolutionary. The disciples knew of the Holy Spirit but Jesus was telling them that when he went away and sent the outpouring of the Spirit, then the Spirit would come to not only live with us but in us. This continuing presence of the Holy Spirit is a game changer. The sad truth, though, is that it is only a game changer for those who recognize the truth and embrace it. He was sent as our helper so we have to let him do his job.

In him is this peace, confidence, righteous enjoyment and all of the other great and wonderful things that the Father, Son and Holy Spirit have worked to bring us. Their plan installs each of them in our lives as partners. Isaiah saw the desert turned into a fertile field. That desert is our lives and hearts. They have been renewed in Christ and we have a joyous and victorious reality to live.