The “Fourth Week”: Week Thirty/Session One.
Theme: Life in the Spirit.
Our reading for today: Acts 1: 3-5.
After His death, He (Jesus) presented Himself alive to them in many different settings over a period of forty days. In face-to-face meetings, He talked to them about things concerning the Kingdom of God. As they met and ate meals together, He told them that they were on no account to leave Jerusalem but “must wait for what the Father promised: the promise you heard from Me. John baptized in water; you will be baptized in the Holy Spirit. And soon.” (Acts 1: 3-5 MsgB)
What an amazing forty days! I can only imagine the “many different settings” Jesus used to reveal Himself to His friends now that He was in His resurrected body.
I’m wondering what it was like for the disciples as they began to realize that this same Jesus they had known for three years in the flesh, was actually now a resurrected being. I’m guessing that once the original shock of Sunday morning wore off, they just couldn’t stop asking Jesus countless questions about His amazing experience.
“Jesus, what it was like to actually die upon the cross and then, miraculously, be brought back to life?”
“Master, tells us about Your time in the grave? Was it scary? Was it exciting?”
You see, Jesus, once He was raised from the dead, now had a major problem on His hands. How do you get these guys and gals, who are thrilled to see their leader alive again, to focus on the important task that’s ahead when all they probably wanted to do is sit around a meal and chat about the ‘miracle’ that raised Jesus from the grave?
As I see it, Luke’s Gospel gives us the answer.
First, Luke summarizes it well when he says that Jesus “talked to them about things concerning the Kingdom of God”. Now, any scholar of the New Testament fully realizes that this comment is not out of context, but is just another strong indicator that Jesus was singularly focused on bringing one message to planet earth.
As a matter of fact, Luke mentions “the Kingdom” 39 times in his gospel, and the other gospel writers (Matthew, Mark, and John) bring the term “Kingdom of God” or “Kingdom of heaven” into their writings 69 times! It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to discover that Jesus’ main emphasis throughout His three-year ministry focused on the in-breaking rule and reign of God, bringing God’s power and presence into our everyday earthly existence.
I can only imagine that during these face-to-face meetings between Jesus and His disciples, the Master continually directed His friends to stop talking about the immediate ‘miracle’ of His resurrection and begin talking about the important ramifications of what it all meant to both them personally and to the world around them. And while Luke’s writings here don’t tell us explicitly, I’m guessing that it was during these forty days where Jesus explained to His friends all of the details they had missed on the first go round, filling in the gaps that we now know as the Kingdom message of Jesus.
Secondly, Luke tells us the other vitally important aspect of these forty days with the risen Christ. In this charged environment where His friends are probably anxious to tell the world about all that has happened, Jesus actually teaches His disciples to do just the opposite. Instead of running out into the world in their own strength and zeal, Jesus teaches them how to wait for the indwelling and empowering work of the Holy Spirit.
Hmm. I wonder if there is a vitally important lesson here waiting for all of us? How often, over the years, have I decided to do something good for Jesus, only to find myself running miles ahead of the Master, trying to do His work out of my own strength?
Maybe I need to take a cue from today’s text and as we grow ever closer to the end of our Ignatian Adventure, I learn well from the Master the fine art of Kingdom waiting on the Holy Spirit?
What say you?
My prayer: Jesus, thank You for this stark reminder that, 1) the work You are calling us to is all centered around Your Kingdom message; and 2) I must learn the fine art of waiting on the Holy Spirit, if I’m going to be of any use to You and Your advancing Kingdom. For Your name’s sake. Amen.
My questions to ponder: So if the Kingdom of God message that is mentioned over one hundred times in the gospels is that important, how can I better discover, embrace and walk out the fullness of the in-breaking Kingdom of God? Do I fully understand what Jesus was saying and doing as He brought this Kingdom message to His friends? If not, what can I do today to better understand the fullness of this important message?
So what is God speaking to you today as we ponder together The Ignatian Adventure?
Over an eight month period, you and I will be working our way through the Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius. For more information on our journey and how to begin…click here!
To go onto the next journal entry…click here.