Ascension Thursday: Power In Waiting


Before Jesus ascended into heaven, he gave his followers instructions (really, these were more than instructions. These were commands with authority. These were orders…).


The first order was not an order for his followers to “go.”

The first order, was an order for his followers to “wait.”

It is not that Jesus did not want the Gospel to go forth in that moment to all the earth, but Jesus knew that the Gospel would not go forth without the power of the Holy Ghost propelling it! Jesus ordered his followers to wait for power before they go!


The early Church was not prepared yet for the mission of God to carry the gospel of Jesus to the world. They had been with Jesus. They knew what they were to do. But they were lacking one necessity — the power promised to them! And Jesus says to them: “Wait!”


Waiting resists impatience. Waiting allows for the preparation and provision that is needed to succeed.


But there is another reason for waiting, and that is to resist impulsiveness.


Sometimes kids will say “I’m hungry. I want a snack.” Most of the time they ask for a snack right before you are about to eat a meal.

And so a parent will say: “Wait, we are about to eat dinner. If you eat this snack now, you won’t eat the dinner we are preparing for you!”


In other words, Don’t spoil the meal that is about to come!


God is going to use the early Church in a mighty way to spread the Gospel beyond Jerusalem, to the ends of the earth! But if the early Church attempts to fulfill that mission on impulse, without first waiting for the empowering of God, they will fail!



Waiting resists impulsiveness. Waiting resists spoiling what is to come.


And so the Lord says — “before you go, wait.”


Waiting is hard, but when waiting involves the things of God, waiting is essential. Empowerment is in the waiting! Not waiting on God is disastrous!


Jesus does not send his followers into the world on a mission unprepared or unprovided for. And Jesus will not allow his followers to spoil what is yet to come by attempting to obey his commandments in their own strength and in their own power!


He is sending them help. He is sending them power. But power will not come as they go — power will come as they wait!


The power of God is available for those who wait on the Lord.


Acts 1:1

In the first book, O Theophilus, I have dealt with all that Jesus began to do and teach,


Don’t be distracted by the title “Acts of the Apostles.” This is not a book about the Apostles or their work, this is a book about Jesus! And Jesus working through the Apostles and the Church in the person of His Holy Ghost!

Luke records what Jesus began to do and teach. That word “began” is important, because this is not a record of what Jesus did and taught, it is a record of what Jesus began to do, because it is what Jesus is continuing to do through His body, the Church.


Acts 1:1–2

Jesus did not ascend into heaven without giving commands. The word “commands” or “instructions” in verse 2 implies they are given with authority. These are orders, not suggestions. They are not optional!


Verse 2 says that Jesus had given these commands- these orders, “through the Holy Spirit.” The Holy Spirit is the power through whom Jesus gives these orders to His followers, and the Holy Spirit is also the One who empowers Jesus’s followers to obey them!


When you stay at a hotel with doors that are opened by a key card, the front desk takes a blank card and programs that card with a code. That code has the power to open the lock on your room’s door! But you are powerless to open your room’s door with that code, unless the front desk hands you that key card to take with you!


In the same way, Jesus, through His Holy Spirit gives orders that have the power to change the world! But Jesus will then give His Holy Spirit, he will give His power to his followers so that they will have the power to obey what He has ordered!


The Holy Spirit is mentioned 3 times in this passage.


He is the One through whom Jesus gives orders to His followers in verse 2.


He is the One in whom believers in Jesus will be baptized into in verse 5.


And He is the One who will rush upon believers in verse 8!


Acts 1:4–5

And while staying with them he ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, “you heard from me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”


Twice in Acts 1:1-11, this word of contrast, this word “but” is used, once in Acts 1:4, and again in Acts 1:8.


He ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father...”

That word “but” creates a tension. There will be a waiting. There will be a delay of what you desire.


In the two times the word “But” is used, it precedes three teachings of Jesus.


The first teaching is here in verse 4:

"But...Wait for the Promise"



We should endeavor to be a Great Commission Church!


The Great Commission is most well known from Matthew 28:18–20


And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”


If the Church of Jesus Christ endeavors to fulfill the Great Commission of discipleship by going, baptizing and teaching in her own strength and in her own power, she will fail.


If God’s people attempt to obey the ways of God in their own strength and by their own power, they will fail!



If the Catholic Church attempts to live by its own strength and minister in its own power, she will fail!



Acts 1:1-11 is full of temporal language - language of time. The question brought to the forefront is the question of “When?” And the answer to the question of “When” is an order to “Wait.”


Jesus does not answer their question with a time or date, but He exhorts them instead to wait — to wait on the Father.


Don’t get ahead of God. There are things that belong to God and God alone. There are times and seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority and are not for us to know.


The question we ask today is - “Lord Jesus, when will you return?” When will you wipe away every tear from our eyes? When will death no longer exist? When will mourning or wailing or pain no longer exist? When will injustice no longer prevail?


We know that day is coming. We pray that day comes soon. But it is not for us to know when. And so while we wait for that day to come, God gives us power and the power comes in the waiting.



One of the fruits of God’s Spirit at work within us is the fruit of patience.


So in Acts 1:4, Jesus says “Wait for the Promise.”


Acts 1:8 gives us the other “But.”


But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

God’s promise of His presence is a promise of His power.

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you.”


There is no power for God’s mission without God Himself! There is no Gospel of God without the God of the Gospel!



The grace of God, the only source of hope for the Church of Jesus Christ, is His Holy Spirit.

God's Spirit empowers God's people with His presence to glorify and enjoy Him for the work in the waiting.

Did you know that God waits, too?

God is very patient. At times he waits. At times He even delays acting!


One great example was when Jesus died on the cross. The Scriptures tell us after Jesus died, He was buried in a tomb.


God waited one day. Jesus’ body stayed in the tomb.

God waited a second day. Jesus’ body stayed in the tomb.


Why did God wait until the third day?

The only way I know to answer that question is to say that God waited until the third day, until it seemed as if there was no hope, so that God might raise Jesus in POWER! So that there was no mistaking that this was the powerful working of God!


God often waits until what seems like the last moment to act, Until it seems there is no hope left! But for those who persevere in the waiting and trusting of God, they will see the power of God.

And this leads to the last statement of Jesus:


Acts 1:8

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

There is work to do in the waiting - the work of witnessing.

We are witnesses by the Holy Spirit confirming in us and through us that the message of Jesus and the promise of Jesus is true. That for all who “Repent are baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins” will find everlasting life and may become witnesses for Jesus too!


Today is the feast day of the the Ascension. And so we read in


Acts 1:9:

And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight.


Jesus was taken out of sight because living for Jesus is living by faith. Not by what we can see, but by what we believe and we believe what God says is true.


I don’t have to understand God to believe Him. That’s faith.

Undoubtedly, you’ve wondered why God has yet to answer some of your prayers. Why God allowed to happen the things that have happened. We don’t have to know. We just have to have faith while waiting for Jesus' return.


Acts 1:10–11

And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, 11 and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.”




Waiting on God does not mean being motionless.

It does not mean standing and staring into the heavens, waiting on God to move.


It was at the moment Jesus was taken up into Heaven that two messengers from Heaven stood by these men with a message to say: “Move on. Why are you staring at the sky? Go do what Jesus said to do — Go wait.”


Isaiah 40:28:31:


Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? there is no searching of his understanding.

He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength.

Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall:

But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.

Teach us oh Lord to wait.

May we wait on the Lord and so move in his strength and in his power.