The ascension of Jesus to the right hand of the Father (Psalm 110) and the coming of the Holy Spirit sets our attention on those things which must take place on earth. The earthly mission of Jesus is complete and now Jesus as the only mediator between God and man is also our advocate before God, and like all advocates, He must have something to say regarding our innocence. He is our witness, He is our saviour, He is the reason for why we are found not guilty before God. The ascended Jesus has begun His heavenly ministry.
Jesus, during His resurrection appearance to Mary Magdelene spoke to her saying “Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.”(John 20:17). With the ascension taken place the followers of Christ are to set their hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God (Col 3:1) and with the coming of the Holy Spirit we recognise that He is with us until the end of the age, just as He promised. Having witnessed the ascension the disciples would now wait for the gift of the Holy Spirit, they were not to leave Jerusalem until this happened as this would begin the Gospel being proclaimed to all nations. Jesus had returned to the one who had sent Him (John 16:5) and God the Holy Spirit would come to be with the Disciples. In witnessing this exchange, we witness the will of God being done on earth as it is in heaven.
Pentecost is the coming of the Holy Spirit 50 days after the resurrection of Jesus. It was a one-time event in history like the birth of Jesus, as his death and like his resurrection. Jesus promised that he would send a helper, a comforter who we know as the Holy Spirit and one of the reasons why Jesus must go to the father is so that the Spirit could come. We could address at this point what happened when the Spirit came but might be to turn this event into a simple history lesson and I would not want this to happen given that God the Spirit is still with us. What God the Holy Spirit did through the early church has led to where we are today. Therefore, in order for us to understand what it means for us today, the focus will not be on what happened as much as why it happened, because when we understand why it happened we can understand what it means for us now.
In simple terms, the Holy Spirit comes as Jesus promised to multiply the ministry of Jesus through his followers. Jesus promised His disciples both then and now that we would do greater works than Him. To put it another way, one of the reasons why the Holy Spirit came and is in every believer’s life is so that we can do greater works than Jesus. Jesus makes this point in John 14:12 “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father.”
When we understand the significance of Pentecost, the coming of the Holy Spirit, for today, in order for God’s will to be done on earth as it is in heaven. We must address how the Holy Spirit within the lives of those who follow Jesus are able to do so, they are able to do so because they have this living and personal relationship with God. God the Holy Spirit permanently dwells the lives of believers, involved in their personal lives completely and because of this, we are not alone in the work we are called to do. This is why we will do greater works than Jesus for the coming of the Spirit will enable us to do these greater works.
In what sense will we do greater works?
When Jesus speaks of His disciples doing greater works than Him, He is not saying that we will be able to do works of ministry that will exceed the quality of His, rather He is referring to doing more than Him. In other words, the church, which consists of all the believers throughout all of church history, from its birth to when Jesus returns, will end up doing more than Jesus did in his earthly ministry. Those who claim that the promise here refers to doing works that are more supernatural or more spectacular than Jesus are missing the point entirely.
The only way these greater works can be done by us is if Jesus goes to the father v12, In simple terms, Jesus could only be in one place at one time and therefore, He could only perform a certain amount of work in the time He spent on earth. whereas the church is the body of Christ, which lives throughout history and continues to serve God throughout that time. The presence of the Holy Spirit means that the work of Christ is no longer limited to His physical body but are spread throughout His body, the church. The works are greater because Christ can do more through us His people than he could through himself as a single person on earth. The son is no longer limited to one body but works through his body the church.
Knowing this is encouraging because Jesus has not left us to get on with the work independently, Jesus is with us even to the end of the age and with the coming of the Holy Spirit, He works through us. Hence why John 14: 13-14 is all about coming to God in prayer in the name of Jesus, The coming of the Holy Spirit multiplies the work of Jesus through his followers. Hence, why Jesus says John 16:7, that it is to our advantage that He goes away. For if he doesn’t then the Holy Spirit cannot come and if the Holy Spirit cannot come, then greater works cannot be achieved.
We also notice when reading the word of God that the Holy Spirit has a role all of His own in this world -John 16:8, Jesus said, “And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.”. The disciples are to wait in Jerusalem until they receive the Spirit because the works they will do is the work of God through them. When they have received the Spirit they will be filled with the power to be witnesses of Jesus to the ends of the world.
The work of the Spirit enables followers of Christ to be witnesses and at the same time, the Spirit independently works in the world in convicting the world is about the person of Jesus, as Jesus taught in John 14:9, “concerning sin because they do not believe in me.” If the world believed in Jesus then they would believe His teaching, they would repent, turn from their sin and call out to God for forgiveness. Jesus has not come to condemn the world but to seek and to save for the world is already condemned. For as long as people in the world remain in unbelief and unrepentance, they will remain condemned. It is the work of God the Holy Spirit to convict the hearts and minds of men, women and children their sin, in order to bring these people to recognize their need and how that need can only be met by the person of Christ.
The Spirit convicts the world of righteousness because Jesus is going to the Father, Therefore, since His perfect righteous life, will not be around for people to witness, the Spirit of God convicts the world of this righteousness. The Spirit, also convicts the world of judgement, those of the world cannot make the right judgements, because they do not believe in Jesus, and because they do not have his righteousness. With all of this in mind, we must remember that the Spirit does not speak on His own authority, and His work in the lives of the disciples is to lead them into all truth, bringing to their remembrance all that Jesus had taught.
The Holy Spirit comes as comforter and the one who convicts. The Spirit is currently at work through the followers of Jesus, in them as they engage in the proclamation of the Gospel. The Spirit is applying the work of the Gospel into the lives of believers and also by convicting those in the world of their sin. The Spirit applies the truth that forgiveness is found only in Jesus. The focus is to glorify Jesus (John 16:14 “he will glorify me…”) in the same way everything Jesus said and did He did because God the father gave it to him that to do, and in doing so, He brought glory to the Father.
There wouldn’t be any work of ministry without the Spirit of God. His role is to multiply the ministry of Jesus by dwelling in the lives of all believers and enabling them to serve God in this fallen world. The work of God continues by the Spirit through believers and understanding this will cause us to appreciate again this new living relationship with God. With this new life, we seek to bring glory to Jesus on earth through our witness, because of the Spirits influence.
Why the Spirit came
To make a very short point and a final point. The Spirit came to multiply the work of Jesus that he did in his own body now through the body of the church, in the lives of countless believers throughout the generations this work is being completed. In order for God’s will on earth to be done as it is in heaven.