The disciples literally and figuratively ran for cover Thursday night after Jesus’ arrest in Gethsemane. But by Sunday they were back together, perhaps in the same room where they had eaten the Passover meal with Jesus less than seventy-two hours earlier.
When Jesus came to them He did not speak even one word of condemnation or blame. He returned to them, not in a spirit of disappointment or criticism, but in a spirit of love. He did not remind them of the past with words of “Why didn’t you…?” Instead, He directed them toward the future with thoughts of “From now on you must…”
Jesus knew only a little time would pass between the resurrection and the ascension. There was too much teaching that needed to be done for him to spend time rehashing their mistakes. He wanted to concentrate his time on preparations for spreading the gospel.
Gethsemane was a defeat in the past. They had to move beyond it.
The resurrection was a victory in the present. They could celebrate it, but not linger there.
Pentecost was a gift in the future. They needed to be prepared for it.
We are Christ’s disciples, and the Holy Spirit comes to us with much the same message. Our mistakes and sins of the past have been forgiven and forgotten by a merciful God. Yes, Satan defeated us in some of the old spiritual battles, but we must forget them.
God has accepted us into his family and established a permanent, personal love relationship with each of us. That is a glorious victory. We can celebrate it every morning and remember it every evening with amazement and gratitude. But we must not remain immobile and inactive in the warm comfort zone of his love.
We are called to leave the victory celebration and tell people in the alleys and streets that God loves them. Each of us is to have our own personal Pentecost where the Holy Spirit fills us and activates us to tell the Good News.
When Jesus returned to heaven the angel said to the disciples “Why are you men from Galilee standing here and looking up into the sky?” (Acts 1:11 CEV) They were being told to move on in their walk of loyalty and devotion to Jesus.
We are called to do the same. We cannot look back in guilt and doubt to the mistakes of the past. Nor must we spend too much time looking in joy and gratitude to the mountain-top experiences of days gone by.
We are to look forward to the Holy Spirit’s leadership as we “go, and teach all nations.” (Matthew 18:19)
The guilt of our sins is in the past. It is forgiven.
Our salvation is in the present. We can celebrate it.
Our service is in the future. What will we do for Jesus?