Waiting for Pentecost
Acts 1:4-8-4 On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but WAIT for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. 5 For John baptized with[a] water, but in a few days you will be baptized with[b] the Holy Spirit.” 6 Then they gathered around him and asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” 7 He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
Waiting on God and waiting for God are not wasted moments in your life. God is in the waiting.
The disciples were told to wait in Jerusalem for a gift that the Father had promised to them. Jerusalem? That is where the crucifixion had gone down. That is where Jesus’ enemies, where their enemies, were. Jesus asked the disciples to wait in a place they would have viewed as dangerous and uncomfortable.
Sometimes He asks the same of us, doesn’t He? Sometimes we are to stay put in a hard or unwanted place because God has a plan to transform that place by transforming us first!
Jesus wasn’t simply asking His followers to wait, but He was, in essence, asking them to trust Him. Our willingness to wait on God to move in some way is also an expression of our trust in Him.
We have seen the disastrous consequences in Scripture that occurred when people didn’t wait on God to fulfill His promise. Every time someone took matters into their own hands, every time they tried to “help God out,” to move things along, to manipulate the situation or conrol some time element, things went south in a hurry. Until we know God has released us from a situation or called us to something new, we must wait, and our waiting becomes a testimony of our trust in God.
If you had been in that group of disciples who had been asked to remain in Jerusalem and to simply wait, what would you have done? You saw Jesus leave earth. You heard He was returning, but you had no clue when. How would you continue to follow Him when He wasn’t present? They were told to wait, but for what? Did they understand the magnitude of the promise? How do you wait for something when you don’t know how long the wait will be? Jesus said in verse 5 that the promised gift would come in a few days, but a few is two or three. Am I right? It turned out to be a ten-day wait, but they didn’t know it was going to be ten days. Ten days seems a lot longer than a few to me, and by day four, I would be questioning what was up!
I suppose if you knew up front that something epic was going to happen for you in ten days, you would be content and happy to wait. In fact, each passing day would probably just increase your anticipation and excitement. But what if you didn’t know when the epic gift would be delivered? Would you just be willing to wait?
How well do you wait on God? How well do you wait for answers to prayer? How patient are you when God is working something out that you may not see or fully understand? This I do know-God has a good reason for asking us to wait for anything He desires to give to us.
God was using that ten-day period to unify His followers. He was bringing them together to prepare them for a new purpose. Sometimes God asks you to wait because He needs to get you ready for a new thing that He wants to do in you and through you.
To unite the disciples in preparation of a new purpose, God called them to prayer. Acts 1:14 says that they joined together constantly in prayer. I’ll say this, Prayer is preparation for any move of the Holy Spirit.
So, God brought them together in prayer to prepare them for a new purpose. Second, God had to bring those people together because they needed healing. They had been through some stuff. For part of the previous time-period, between the crucifixion and the waiting time in Jerusalem, they had witnessed very traumatic events, events that led many of them to scatter and isolate themselves from each other. They were going to need to go into this new Pentecost season as a united front.
There was also an “elephant in the room.” One of the twelve was missing. Judas had betrayed Jesus, was then seized with remorse, and subsequently took his own life. That’s not something you gloss over. That isn’t something you just move on from without conversation, without grief, without experiencing God’s healing. They couldn’t pretend that what happened to Judas hadn’t happened. They needed a minute to process that, to deal with that, and to be healed. I think it is very significant that Peter took it upon himself to bring it up.
This is what he said beginning in verse 16: “Brothers and sisters,[d] the Scripture had to be fulfilled in which the Holy Spirit spoke long ago through David concerning Judas, who served as guide for those who arrested Jesus. 17 He was one of our number and shared in our ministry.”
I respect and appreciate that he didn’t just gloss over Judas’s passing, but he took time to say, “Judas was one of us. He shared in the ministry with us.” The community of believers needed to deal with Judas’s passing. Before they could move on to do a new thing together, they needed to take a minute to grieve a former thing together. They couldn’t just roll into the whole Pentecost experience without processing their loss and talking about who might replace Judas as an apostle. Peter knew the Scriptures and what had been prophesied about Judas. Look at Acts 1:20ff: 20 “For,” said Peter, “it is written in the Book of Psalms: “‘May his place be deserted; let there be no one to dwell in it,’[e] and, “‘May another take his place of leadership.’[f]
It was decided that someone named Matthias would join the team. Both, grieving Judas’s passing and discerning who should replace him were significant actions that needed to take place during this time of waiting.
I want to suggest one more thing that was strategic about the ten-day waiting period. I pull it from verses 21 Therefore it is necessary to choose one of the men who have been with us the whole time the Lord Jesus was living among us, 22 beginning from John’s baptism to the time when Jesus was taken up from us. For one of these must become a witness with us of his resurrection.”
Sometimes, we want to know all the details about how something will play out. We want to know five steps ahead, but the reality is, we can trust God in the waiting times to tell us what we need to know in order to be proactive and productive in the waiting time. Jesus had commissioned them as His witnesses in Matthew 28 and had reaffirmed their assignment in Acts 1. Their strategic choice of someone who had walked with them during Jesus’ ministry tells me they had adopted the mindset that propelled them into their new roles as fishers of men.
I suppose we aren’t so different from those early apostles because we too, find ourselves in a state of waiting. We are waiting for Christ to return. After Jesus told the disciples to wait, and He was taken up into Heaven, Acts 1:10 says 10 They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. 11 “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.”
We’re still waiting. What should we do while we wait? Perhaps we should anticipate the next new thing God wants to do in us. I guarantee He wants to do a new thing. Perhaps there are some old hurts we need to allow Him to heal in order for us to be candidates for the new thing He wants to take us to. Maybe we need to address some “elephants in the room.” Maybe we need to respond to what He has already told us and be proactive to act on the information we already have. Whatever you are waiting on, if you trust the Lord and seek to follow what He has already revealed, whatever you are waiting for will be worth the wait!