And afterward, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days.
Joel 2:28-29 (NIV)
You may be wondering why I’m starting this blog post by writing on an Old Testament prophecy about Pentecost, instead of a Holy Week type of verse. The coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost is an affirmation of the New Covenant brought about by the death and resurrection of Christ – what we are celebrating this weekend! There are so many gifts that we receive through the work of Jesus on the cross, and having union with the Holy Spirit is just one of many.
The people of God in the Old Testament looked forward to the day the Spirit would be given to all. Only a few individuals in the past, such as prophets and kings, had the Spirit come upon them. They were living within the Old Covenant and awaited Joel’s prophecy to be fulfilled. Even Moses longed for when the Spirit would be poured out on all of God’s people:
I wish that all the Lord’s people were prophets and that the Lord would put his Spirit on them!
The first glimpse we get of what a life in the Spirit looks like in the New Covenant is in the life of Jesus. At His baptism, not only does the Holy Spirit come upon Jesus, but it remained on Him:
Then John gave this testimony: “I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him. And I myself did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.”
John 1:32-33 (NIV)
The Spirit then worked through the Son to glorify God throughout His life on earth. We, like Jesus, have the ability to be used by the Holy Spirit to bring glory to God. “The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you.” (Romans 8:11 NLT) This is only possible within the New Covenant, where Jesus mediates between God and us through His work on the cross.
Then Jesus shouted out again, and he released his Spirit. At that moment the curtain in the sanctuary of the Temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. The earth shook, rocks split apart.
Matthew 27:50-51 (NLT)
Tomorrow is Good Friday when we remember the sacrifice Jesus made for us. When I was younger, I could have easily spit out the gospel message in perfect sunday school fashion. I’ll admit, though, that I did not understand the significance of Christ’s reconciliation between the human race and God until I was in my teens. The mistakes I made in my late adolescence, abandoning a life lived for God, made me utterly aware of the separation sin makes between God and us. I was so undeserving of any grace He could ever give me and was astonished that anyone would love me so much that they would die for me. The veil being torn in two, mentioned in the verse above, literally meant that there was no longer a need for us to be separated from God. The Old Covenant is gone, and the New has come! Through Jesus, we can once again be in right relationship with our Father in heaven.
Easter may look quite different from last year for most of our young adults at Beulah. We, of course, are not going to be attending services this weekend with the rest of the congregation. Instead, we will be gathering around iPhones, tablets and televisions to glorify God for what He has done for us. Family dinners and Easter egg hunts may be postponed or cancelled altogether. I am thankful, however, that we have something as amazing as the reconciliation between God and man to have my hope in through this pandemic. The gift of the Holy Spirit and the ability to be in a personal relationship with God are just some of the blessings we have received through the events that took place this Easter weekend 2000 years ago. What would it look like to share the hope we have in Jesus at this time? How do we glorify God and share with others the blessing we have received through the New covenant?
As we journey through each day of this weekend and celebrate Easter, let’s take the time to thank God for the ability to be in relationship with Him. Let us praise Him for the gift of having a God to depend on and put our trust in. Then, let us pray for those we know who have not yet taken hold of the gift of salvation and ask that they would come to know Jesus, who has reconciled us to God.