Its no secret, to those who have their eyes and ears open, that the spirit of this season is awaiting “the Spirit.” From Ascension to Pentecost is a prayer for that Advocate Jesus Christ promised He would send. The readings from the Acts of the Apostles are full of examples that those disciples truly received that Holy Spirit. It is evident in their actions, their speech, and what they ae able to accomplish. Tests they had failed prior to the Passion, they now pass with ease. They find themselves in situations similar those Jesus Himself was in, but now there is no denial of their Savior, they behave as He did. They become images of Christ. Paul, today, finds himself facing those that accused Jesus. Those accusers challenge his preaching Christ, just as they filed charges against the LORD Himself.
King Agrippa and Bernice arrived in Caesarea
on a visit to Festus.
Since they spent several days there,
Festus referred Paul’s case to the king, saying,
“There is a man here left in custody by Felix.
When I was in Jerusalem the chief priests and the elders of the Jews
brought charges against him and demanded his condemnation.
I answered them that it was not Roman practice
to hand over an accused person before he has faced his accusers
and had the opportunity to defend himself against their charge.
The words recorded of these accusations are nearly identical to those cast against Jesus. Paul certainly knows the potential outcome of such charges as he was once one who levied those accusations against others. He was the one who orchestrated the stoning of Saint Stephen. He knew with certainty the treatment Christians received. Discrimination, persecution, and death. To be accused as Christ was to be executed as Christ was. They knew that. There was no doubt. But they preached the good news of Jesus Christ. They preached with the full knowledge that they would be put to death. They preached with the full knowledge that they would be executed as He was. They knew that their preaching placed them on the path towards crucifixion, and many of them faced that fate. But they continued. They continued because they knew that the way of Christ was a way towards life. A contradiction, but not to them. They knew the difference. They received the Holy Spirit promised, and their Acts are certain proof. That is the Spirit we pray for now. Come Holy Spirit.
To receive that Spirit requires that one be open to, to be aware of it. It requires a desire, passion. Passion is a word used in scripture, and the Passion of our LORD begins with a prayer in the garden. That prayer is the one between Father and Son where He pleads that the cup of suffering be taken from him, and where He pleads that “thine will be done.” A cry for strength, a prayer. The passion continues on the cross with the words “Father, into your hands I commit my Spirit.” The same Spirit Christians call upon today. To receive it though we must be passionate about it. We must desire it, and call out to it. That is prayer. Come Holy Spirit.