It was June 18, 1815, the Battle of Waterloo. The French were led by Napoleon. The English, under the command of Wellington. To get information back to the people of England, there were relay stations to send messages on the status of the battle. One of those signal stations was on the tower of Winchester Cathedral. Late in the day it flashed the signal: "WELLINGTON DEFEATED…" Just at that moment one of those sudden English fog clouds made it impossible to read the rest of the message. The news of defeat quickly spread throughout the city. Soon, the whole countryside was devastated that their country had lost the war.
Then, a few hours later, the fog lifted, and the rest of the message could be read. "WELLINGTON DEFEATED THE ENEMY!" Sorrow was turned into joy. Defeat was turned into victory!
What a difference hearing the whole message!
What if you were a follower of Jesus and found yourself looking up at Him on the cross. You watch Him die. In your mind, the message is clear: the dream is over. The promise has failed. We’re no better off than before He came. It was a good run but it’s done.
Then, comes more of the message. John 20:1-9 Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came early to the tomb, while it was still dark, and saw the stone already taken away from the tomb. So she ran and came to Simon Peter and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and said to them, "They have taken away the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid Him." So Peter and the other disciple went forth, and they were going to the tomb. The two were running together; and the other disciple ran ahead faster than Peter and came to the tomb first; and stooping and looking in, he saw the linen wrappings lying there; but he did not go in. And so Simon Peter also came, following him, and entered the tomb; and he saw the linen wrappings lying there, and the face-cloth which had been on His head, not lying with the linen wrappings, but rolled up in a place by itself. So the other disciple who had first come to the tomb then also entered, and he saw and believed. For as yet they did not understand the Scripture, that He must rise again from the dead.
Hearing gave them greater details but, they still didn’t understand what it meant that Jesus had risen from the dead.
When we just hear, we can withhold judgment. Maybe it’s true or maybe not.
Mark 16:9-11 Now after He had risen early on the first day of the week, He first appeared to Mary Magdalene, from whom He had cast out seven demons. She went and reported to those who had been with Him, while they were mourning and weeping. When they heard that He was alive and had been seen by her, they refused to believe it.
Mar 16:12-13 After that, He appeared in a different form to two of them while they were walking along on their way to the country. They went away and reported it to the others, but they did not believe them either.
The difference between these two men and the rest, they had experienced the truth of Jesus had risen. The others could doubt but experiencing was undeniable.
Luke 24:13-16 And behold, two of them were going that very day to a village named Emmaus, which was about seven miles from Jerusalem. And they were talking with each other about all these things which had taken place. While they were talking and discussing, Jesus Himself approached and began traveling with them. But their eyes were prevented from recognizing Him.
Luke 24:21-24 But we were hoping that it was He who was going to redeem Israel. Indeed, besides all this, it is the third day since these things happened. But also some women among us amazed us. When they were at the tomb early in the morning, and did not find His body, they came, saying that they had also seen a vision of angels who said that He was alive. Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just exactly as the women also had said; but they did not see Him.
Luke 24:27-33 Then beginning with Moses and with all the prophets, He explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures. And they approached the village where they were going, and He acted as though He were going farther. But they urged Him, saying, "Stay with us, for it is getting toward evening, and the day is now nearly over." So He went in to stay with them. When He had reclined at the table with them, He took the bread and blessed it, and breaking it, He began giving it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognized Him; and He vanished from their sight. They said to one another, "Were not our hearts burning within us while He was speaking to us on the road, while He was explaining the Scriptures to us?" And they got up that very hour and returned to Jerusalem
What a difference between experiencing the Risen Lord as opposed to just hearing He had risen!
In fact, let’s go back before all this happened and look at the before and after of the disciples. Jesus had warned them what was to come concerning His death:
Matt 26:31 Then Jesus said to them, "You will all fall away because of Me this night, for it is written, 'I WILL STRIKE DOWN THE SHEPHERD, AND THE SHEEP OF THE FLOCK SHALL BE SCATTERED.'
So, what happened? Matt 26:55-56 At that time Jesus said to the crowds, "Have you come out with swords and clubs to arrest Me as you would against a robber? Every day I used to sit in the temple teaching and you did not seize Me. But all this has taken place to fulfill the Scriptures of the prophets.” Then all the disciples left Him and fled.
Even with knowing something about what was going on, they still left Him and fled.
That same night after the Last Supper, John 16:31-32 Jesus answered them, "Do you now believe? Behold, an hour is coming, and has already come, for you to be scattered, each to his own home, and to leave Me alone…
Peter’s response: Luke 22:33-34 But he said to Him, "Lord, with You I am ready to go both to prison and to death!" And He said, "I say to you, Peter, the rooster will not crow today until you have denied three times that you know Me."
How’d Peter come through? John 18:15-27 Simon Peter was following Jesus, and so was another disciple. Now that disciple was known to the high priest, and entered with Jesus into the court of the high priest, but Peter was standing at the door outside. So the other disciple, who was known to the high priest, went out and spoke to the doorkeeper, and brought Peter in. Then the slave-girl who kept the door *said to Peter, "You are not also one of this man's disciples, are you?" He *said, "I am not." Now the slaves and the officers were standing there, having made a charcoal fire, for it was cold and they were warming themselves; and Peter was also with them, standing and warming himself…So they said to him, "You are not also one of His disciples, are you?" He denied it, and said, "I am not." One of the slaves of the high priest, being a relative of the one whose ear Peter cut off, said, "Did I not see you in the garden with Him?" Peter then denied it again, and immediately a rooster crowed.
So, disciples who walked and lived with Jesus all that time, when the moment came, couldn’t stand with Him at His death. Even after hearing of the resurrection: John 20:19 So when it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and when the doors were shut where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst and *said to them, "Peace be with you."
Even with information, they were reluctant to believe He had risen.
John 20:24-29 But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples were saying to him, "We have seen the Lord!" But he said to them, "Unless I see in His hands the imprint of the nails, and put my finger into the place of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe." After eight days His disciples were again inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus came, the doors having been shut, and stood in their midst and said, "Peace be with you." Then He said to Thomas, "Reach here with your finger, and see My hands; and reach here your hand and put it into My side; and do not be unbelieving, but believing." Thomas answered and said to Him, "My Lord and my God!" Jesus said to him, "Because you have seen Me, have you believed? Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed."
Hearing about the Resurrection didn’t convince them Jesus was alive until they experienced Him alive. Somehow the truth of His resurrection had to be transferred to them, not just by knowledge but more so, through experience.
Eph 1:18-20 I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might which He brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places,
Did Paul mean to say that some Children of God may not experience all that God promised? That Believers might settle for less than all He gives them? That some may not be fully enlightened, some will not realize the hope of His calling or the riches of all He has planned, or the surpassing greatness of His power flowing through them? Yes. It’s the difference between hearing it’s true and experiencing it’s true.
Jesus, as soon as He explained He must die and be resurrected, told them of another promise. That the plan isn’t fulfilled by each event. All are tied together.
Acts 1:5, 8 John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now." 8 but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth."
Power would come. Power for what? Belief and function. John 16:8 And He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment. Convict means to convince. The Holy Spirit is the convincing arm of the Trinity to help us believe. And also, the empowering arm. He is the power flowing through us to act.
How will that power come?
John 14:16-17 "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, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you.
John 14:26 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.
John 16:13 But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come.
So, the source of God that will convince the Disciples of the truth and transform them into people who can powerfully live and communicate the Gospel is the Holy Spirit. So, what happened?
Acts 2:1-8 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. 5 Now there were Jews living in Jerusalem, devout men from every nation under heaven. And when this sound occurred, the crowd came together, and were bewildered because each one of them was hearing them speak in his own language. They were amazed and astonished, saying, "Why, are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we each hear them in our own language to which we were born?
Then Peter spoke to the gathered crowd: Acts 2:23 this Man, delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death.
Shortly after that, Acts 4:8-10 Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, "Rulers and elders of the people, if we are on trial today for a benefit done to a sick man, as to how this man has been made well, let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead—by this name this man stands here before you in good health.
Is this the same Peter? The man who denied the Lord and ran and hid? Who at first only marveled at the empty tomb but didn’t believe? Yes and no. He had the same physical characteristics but his body now was the home of the Spirit of God. The Holy Spirit was taking control and infusing him with the power of a transformed life with boldness to share the message of the Gospel.
This happened to the whole group, Acts 4:31 And when they had prayed, the place where they had gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak the word of God with boldness.
Being filled, they now had power to speak boldly. Acts 4:33 And with great power the apostles were giving testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and abundant grace was upon them all.
Something happened to convince these men and women of the truth of the Resurrection, transformed them into new people and empowered them to act with boldness. These people were no longer the same.
Can there be a moment for us that takes what we’ve heard and convinces us it is true? A moment that transforms us and empowers us as well?
We know from Scripture that Eph 1:13-14 In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation—having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God's own possession, to the praise of His glory.
The identifying mark of us as Christians is the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives. The security of our relationship with the Father is the seal of the Spirit. He is our guarantee of all God has promised. But He also is the power of the life.
Eph 3:16-17 that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love,
Salvation is confirmed with the presence of the Spirit. He seals us the Lord’s possession. But there is a reality we may not experience. Dwelling means being at home, or given the right to live there.
We say to our guests: make yourself at home. We want them to feel as comfortable at our house as they do in their own homes. We place no restrictions on them. They have full run of the whole house.
We must give the Holy Spirit the same honor in our homes, our lives. We remove any restrictions to God’s work by embracing the presence and power of the Spirit. Our bodies may be flabby and weak but when the Spirit empowers us, we become strong and energized to live and act according to who we are as believers.
Interesting story: Mar 8:22-25 And they came to Bethsaida. And they brought a blind man to Jesus and implored Him to touch him. Taking the blind man by the hand, He brought him out of the village; and after spitting on his eyes and laying His hands on him, He asked him, "Do you see anything?" And he looked up and said, "I see men, for I see them like trees, walking around." Then again He laid His hands on his eyes; and he looked intently and was restored, and began to see everything clearly.
Nothing Jesus did was without purpose. He didn’t need a do-over for this man because His first attempt failed. He needed to teach a lesson the disciples would later experience.
Right after that: Mar 8:27-29 Jesus went out, along with His disciples, to the villages of Caesarea Philippi; and on the way He questioned His disciples, saying to them, "Who do people say that I am?" They told Him, saying, "John the Baptist; and others say Elijah; but others, one of the prophets." And He continued by questioning them, "But who do you say that I am?" Peter answered and said to Him, "You are the Christ."
Which was true but didn’t affect how they were going to react to what followed.
From Caesarea Philippi, they began the long journey back to Jerusalem. Where the Cross and Resurrection were scheduled. But all of this had limited meaning to the disciples. It didn’t fit into what they were expecting or wanting. That’s why they were devastated. They only had part of the message. The resurrection cleared some of that up when they saw the power of God in bringing Jesus back alive, but the experience of Pentecost would complete the picture when they experienced that same power in their lives.
Same for us. If we stop anywhere along the way and not allow the Lord to fulfill the promise in us, we struggle with the truth. If at the cross, we have limited understanding of what God did. We see forgiveness, payment of sins and reconciliation. In the Resurrection we see the power of that life and the picture of the new life He made possible. Then, on Pentecost, we experience the power to live and share that life.
The Resurrection gave them the message to share: 1Cor 15:3-4 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.
The Indwelling of the Spirit of God gave them the power to live and share that message.
The Gospels don’t explain the resurrection; the resurrection explains the Gospels. The Book of Acts demonstrates the power of the Gospel for living that life that the rest of the NT tells us is possible.
The Spirit of God indwelling the lives of the people of God gives the power to share the message of the Death and the Resurrection, and the power to live that message.
- Salvation is not us entering into God but God entering into us.
- We are not saved by believing facts but by opening our lives to the truth of God to dwell in us.
- God’s objective is to do in us far more than we could ever think or imagine is possible.
- Our job is to open the door and let Him in.