Humble: Resurrection promises life in the spirit

“It is to your advantage that I am going away,” Jesus declared to his disciples on the night before his crucifixion.

How bewildering this assertion must have been for the disciples.

What a perplexing evening it had been already. (Read John 13-16.)

First, Jesus had stripped down, knelt and washed their feet.

Then he said one of them would turn betray him — one of them?

Next, he began a long talk about being glorified, about going away to the Father without them, about “the ruler of this world” coming against him and the world hating him. Woven into his words were repeated commands to love one another, and to remain in his love like branches on a vine.

What’s more, Jesus said they would do greater works than he had done (greater?) and they were to prove to be his disciples (prove after three years of following?).

Throughout, Jesus kept talking about the Holy Spirit, calling him paraclete (helper, advocate, counselor, comforter) and “Spirit of truth,” who would come.

“You know him,” Jesus said, “because he resides with you and will be in you.” Huh? This on the night before crucifixion.

Then on the evening of resurrection day, in his first appearance to the disciples, we read “he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” Why breathe on them?

In the Hebrew and Greek languages, the word translated “spirit” also can mean wind or breath.

Jesus was imparting the spirit to them, just as God had breathed the breath of life into the first man (Gen. 2:7).

The risen Jesus, God in flesh, the firstfruits of new creation, breathed the breath of life, the spirit, on these who now became a part of that new creation in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17)

Over the next 40 days Jesus talked with them about the kingdom of God, described as “righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Rom. 14:17).

Jesus promised them the Spirit would empower them to fulfill their mission and commanded them to wait until the Sprit came upon them—and did he ever.

Clearly, the Holy Spirit’s presence and work was Jesus’s greatest concern for his followers.

As we celebrate resurrection, let us also long for the Spirit’s work in our personal lives, in Christ’s body, and in the world. Everything depends on the Spirit’s work!

The Spirit convicts of sin, righteousness, and judgment so people can repent (Jn. 16:7-11). The Spirit witnesses to Jesus (Jn. 15:26). New birth is the Spirit’s work (Jn.3: 5-6; Tit. 3:5; Ro. 8:9-11).

The Spirit makes us members of Christ’s body (1 Cor. 12:12-13). The Spirit gifts us to serve as members of the body (1 Cor. 12:4-11), empowering us to do Jesus’s works (Jn. 14:12-17).

The Spirit transforms us into the image of God’s Son (2 Cor. 3:18) and produces the fruit of God’s character in us (Gal. 5:22-23). The Spirit teaches us and guides us into the truth (Jn 14:26; 16:13-14). The Spirit empowers us to bear witness of Jesus, to proclaim the gospel with evidence God at work (Lk. 24:47-49; Ac. 1:8; Ro. 15:18-19; 1 Cor. 2:3-5).

We desperately need a fresh outpouring of God’s Holy Spirit today, just as recorded in Acts 4:23-31, not very long after the astounding outpouring recorded in Acts 2. On June 9 we will celebrate that first Pentecost. May the Spirit stir us and move us to pray fervently for the Spirit to work in power in these days.

Come Holy Spirit! Revive and empower the church and restore God’s world!

Steve Humble is an elder of Winchester Covenant Church and the author of “For Such a Time as This? One Man’s Spiritual Journey.” He can be reached at (859) 771-7138 or at steve.g.humble@gmail.com.