AN­OTHER LAYER OF EASTER

Activated - - NEWS - By Mara Hodler Mara Hodler is a for­mer mis­sion­ary to the Far East and East Africa. She cur­rently lives in Texas with her hus­band and chil­dren and runs a small fam­ily busi­ness. This ar­ti­cle was adapted from a pod­cast on Just1Thing, a Chris­tian char­ac­ter-b

I was think­ing about Easter the other night when a line popped into my head: “He did not leave my soul in hell.” It sounded like a Bi­ble pas­sage, but I wasn’t sure. Nei­ther was I sure if the writer was re­fer­ring to Je­sus.

I would like to say I pulled out my Bi­ble and flipped to the pas­sage, but no, I pulled out my smart­phone and googled the phrase. It was in the Bi­ble, and you can find it in Psalm 16: “You will not leave my soul among the dead.” 1

Next I wanted to con­firm who David was speak­ing of, so I looked a lit­tle fur­ther. The pas­sage is quoted by the apos­tle Peter in his very first ser­mon at Pen­te­cost. 2 Je­sus had just as­cended into heaven and had told His dis­ci­ples the Holy Spirit would come to them. The be­liev­ers anx­iously hud­dled to­gether in an up­per room wait­ing to see what was next. Then the Holy Spirit swept through in the form of flames of fire, and they were all filled with a power and bold­ness that they had never known.

At that time, Jerusalem was filled with Jews from all over the world. These de­vout be­liev­ers were in Jerusalem to cel­e­brate Passover—one of the most sig­nif­i­cant events in the Jewish cal­en­dar.

Upon be­ing filled with the Holy Spirit, the dis­ci­ples trick­led out of their up­per room and into the pub­lic, where they be­gan declar­ing the gospel—in for­eign lan­guages none of them pre­vi­ously knew! All the pil­grims to Jerusalem were as­tounded that these peo­ple spoke their lan­guages. Peo­ple were try­ing to fig­ure out how it could be pos­si­ble for them to speak in lan­guages they had never learned. Some took to mak­ing fun: “They must be drunk.”

Then Peter, the same Peter who had de­nied Je­sus just a few weeks be­fore, stood up and ad­dressed this huge crowd: “We aren’t drunk; it’s only nine o’clock in the morn­ing. We’re filled with the Spirit just like the prophet Joel proph­e­sied.”

He went on to ex­plain that Je­sus of Nazareth, the one who ev­ery­one knew had re­cently been cru­ci­fied, was the Son of God, whom God had raised from the dead. And that’s where he ref­er­enced David’s prophecy in Psalm 16:

“Broth­ers and sis­ters, I can speak con­fi­dently about the pa­tri­arch David. He died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this very day. Be­cause he was a prophet, he knew that God promised him with a solemn pledge to seat one of his de­scen­dants on his throne. Hav­ing seen this be­fore­hand,

David spoke about the res­ur­rec­tion of Christ, that he wasn’t aban­doned to the grave, nor did his body ex­pe­ri­ence de­cay. This Je­sus, God raised up. We are all wit­nesses to that fact.” 3

Peter’s de­liv­ery was so pow­er­ful and anointed that 3,000 be­liev­ers were added to the church that day. And that was just the be­gin­ning.

When I read this chap­ter, I was so im­pressed with Peter’s de­liv­ery. He wasn’t just bold, he also sounded ed­u­cated. He ref­er­enced Jewish prophets and prophecy and spoke with a clar­ity that he wasn’t pre­vi­ously known for. It was ob­vi­ously the work of the Holy Spirit.

Through His death and res­ur­rec­tion, Je­sus gave us gifts that have com­pletely al­tered the course of mankind. These gifts are: 1. Sal­va­tion and a per­sonal re­la­tion­ship with God, 2. The Holy Spirit, and 3. The gift of heal­ing, through His suf­fer­ing on the cross. 4

When Je­sus was with His dis­ci­ples, they could not have the gift of the Holy Spirit. He had to leave them in or­der for them to be able to have the Holy Spirit: “I am go­ing to do what is best for you. That is why I am go­ing away. The Holy Spirit can­not come to help you un­til I leave. But af­ter I am gone, I will send the Spirit to you.” 5

I haven’t al­ways thought of the Holy Spirit as some­thing to cel­e­brate at Easter, but I do now. Be­cause of Je­sus’ phys­i­cal de­par­ture from His dis­ci­ples, they were—and we are—able to re­ceive the gift of the Holy Spirit sim­ply by ask­ing: “If you who are evil know how to give good gifts to your chil­dren, how much more will the heav­enly Fa­ther give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him?” 6

Think­ing about the Holy Spirit in this way has added an­other layer to my ap­pre­ci­a­tion of Easter. I’m grate­ful for this deeper un­der­stand­ing of what Je­sus has done for me, and it’s some­thing I never want to take for granted.

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