(apologies for our silence – we have been away to somewhere that should have had wi-fi but didn’t. We finish off the Easter- the Cross series)
Short Meditations for Easter on the Cross: 32. And Onwards
Acts 2:1,4 When the day of Pentecost came …. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit
We perhaps walk away from Easter too quickly. The fact is that without Easter none of us would be what we are. Something amazing happened on the Day of Pentecost that we sometimes miss: “They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them.” (Acts 2:3) This was the fire of God but here is the amazing thing – it did not burn up these followers of Jesus.
Why? Because of Easter, because all their sin had been dealt with by Jesus on the Cross. These men and women could encounter God without being burned up. I believe these tongues of fire were the sign of God’s merciful presence; the disciples could be in the presence of the Holy God without being destroyed. Again and again, the indication in the Bible is that God cannot tolerate the presence of sin and fire comes down to destroy it – but here the fire comes, and they are not only safe, but they are filled (how we take that word for granted!) with the Holy Spirit.
Now this wasn’t just for an elite group of the closest followers, because the ongoing teaching of the New Testament is that, that happens to all believers and is the work of the Holy Spirit, who carries the presence of God. We are ‘born again of the Spirit’ (Jn 3:5-8), made anew by the power of God, and without His indwelling presence we are not Christians (Rom 8:9). Paul speaks of His indwelling presence a number of times – 1 Cor 3:16, 6:19 “your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you,” as well as 2 Cor 6:19 “we are the temple of the living God.” See also Eph 2:21,22 etc. Isn’t that amazing, a truth we so often take for granted, that the very presence and power of God Himself dwells within us.
Now stop and think about the nature, the character of God. When we are filled with the Spirit, we are filled with all the love, goodness, and grace of God, expounded by Paul in Galatians as including, “love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” (Gal 5:22,23) But it also includes all of His revelation: wisdom, knowledge, understanding and insight. All of these ‘resources’ are a gift from Him to each one of us.
But how can we, less than perfect beings, have all this, have this close encounter with the Holy One of Israel? The answer is ‘the Cross’. As we said at the beginning of this series (and this is the end), those words don’t just mean the physical means of death or the events themselves, but they are shorthand for all that Jesus achieved on the cross for us – our justification, our adoption, our being empowered to live the Christ-life, and a future destiny that contains the word, ‘everlasting’! All of this because of Easter. Thank and praise Him for it before we move on.