Behold, I send the Promise of My Father upon you; but tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high. — Luke 24: 49
It is in our fellowship that we experience power from on high.
Time of anticipation
After the barely comprehensible death of their Lord and Master, the disciples were devastated. They seemed to have forgotten His references to that which was attested in the Scriptures about Him. Their suffering and pain was so great that there seemed to be nothing that could comfort them. They hid themselves behind closed doors to seek security in fellowship among one another.
After their return to the circle of the disciples in Jerusalem, the disciples of Emmaus joyfully related the experience of their encounter with the Risen One, which had so touched them and moved them to turn around (verses 13–35). And just then the Lord Himself appeared to all of them. Just as the stone that had been rolled in front of His tomb (Luke 24: 2) had been unable to prevent His resurrection, even closed doors were unable to prevent Him from entering into their midst (John 20: 19).
Comfort in fellowship
Jesus responded to the astonishment and fear of the disciples with His greeting of peace. His explanations concerning the recent events opened up their understanding. He then went on to assign them the commission to preach the gospel (Luke 24: 46–48). It was most likely in the awareness that their human capabilities would not be sufficient to comprehend everything at once that He promised them the power from on high. Thereby He announced the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, as had already been promised by the prophet Joel (Joel 2: 28–29). The Risen One called upon them to remain in the city until then (Luke 24: 49).
Power from on high for the church of Christ
The day of Pentecost thus marked the end of this period of waiting: the promised power from on high, the Holy Spirit, was poured out, and the church of Jesus Christ was born!
Through this powerful intervention of God, the church of Christ—in other words, the fellowship of all believers—was strengthened, right from the start, in its endeavour to live in accordance with the favour of God and so prepare for the return of Christ (Catechism 126.96.36.199).
Power from on high for the individual believer
For us, the power from on high is the gift of the Holy Spirit which we have received. We are to:
- Remain in the fellowship. Just like the disciples of the time in their extreme situation, we too draw comfort and strength from our fellowship during our various experiences, cares, and needs (1 John 1: 3).
- Work with the power from on high. The expression “power from on high” is reminiscent of the fulfilling, motivating, and strengthening activity of the Spirit, and refers to the powerful intervention of God (Catechism 188.8.131.52). Just as the disciples were strengthened in their commission through the power from on high, the gift of the Holy Spirit enables us to repeatedly perform all sorts of good works (2 Thessalonians 2: 17).
* Thoughts from the Chief Apostle adapted for service held on Sunday, 17 May 2015 at Midrand Congregation