When Jesus commissioned His disciples to take his message of repentance into the world & make disciples (see Luke 24:47, Mt. 28:19… etc.), He was handing off the baton in many ways. He’d spent 30 some years preparing for a 3 year ministry that was all about seeking and saving what was lost – restoring people to right relationships with His Father. He’d stared death in the hideous face, carried the weight of our sin & rejection into the grave, then emerged once again into life as the Son of God. His victory over death made possible a victory for all who would follow Him. The seeking and saving of those who’d been lost was now left up to His disciples.
Let the weight of that sink in for a minute. The sole purpose for which Jesus, the Son of God, came to earth was now being left in the hands of a small eclectic group of first century Jews. They fished and collected taxes and compared bunions and railed at the political powers… they didn’t have a lot of experience in the whole “seeking and saving” department. But Jesus didn’t leave them with a pamphlet containing 5 Surefire Methods of Church Planting or with tracts containing the 4 Spiritual Laws to hand out. He didn’t draft a memo listing 3 Potent Principles of Personal Evangelism or leave a book describing the 2 Questions Everyone Must Answer Before They Die. He didn’t even tell them the 1 Secret to Carrying Out Christ’s Mission.
He just told them to wait.
Ok, guys. You’re going to be my witnesses all over the world. Tell people all about me and the forgiveness I offer. Teach them to repent and baptize them and keep teaching them everything I’ve taught you. Start here, then go everywhere else. “But stay here in the city until the Holy Spirit comes and fills you with power from heaven.”
Sorry Jesus, we’ve seen some crazy stuff the last few weeks and we may have misunderstood you just now. You’re sounding like you’re leaving us for good… and we’re just supposed to wait here?
Let’s not get this wrong here; Jesus had them waiting for something very specific. They weren’t just sitting around not doing anything. Scripture describes them spending time in the temple praising God and spending time together praying to God while they waiting. But they were waiting… for the Holy Spirit.
The power for the early disciples to do what Jesus told them to do didn’t come from the brilliant strategic mind of Bartholomew or the persuasive passion of Peter. Matthias was not the perfect missing team member who’s addition unlocked all the potential of the Apostolic Dream Team. Later, the power didn’t even come from the keen apologetic debate skills of Paul. The ability to be the body He had called them to be came from the Holy Spirit.
The same is true today in our youth ministries. We cannot “make disciples” under the power of our great games or teaching tactics or awesome youth rooms. The best curriculum and all the right planning and great lighting and even better speaking skills cannot substitute for the power of the Holy Spirit. Don’t trust your tactics more than you trust the Spirit. Maybe you need to stop doing something (maybe even something that seems to be working) or maybe you need to try something new (even something that might not seem to make sense).
Wait for Him.
Breathe in the gift of the Spirit He’s sent to you, then go make disciples.