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Steve Mickel: Leaving and Sending, Acts 1 & John 16

April 24, 2023

Audio Recording

The final words Jesus shared with his disciples before his arrest spoke of a mysterious gift: the Holy Spirit. Jesus is leaving; the Holy Spirit is coming. The Holy Spirit will be in them, doing in them what Jesus did among them.

New Endings for Old Stories Sermon Series at Westside Church
New Endings for Old Stories
Steve Mickel: Leaving and Sending, Acts 1 & John 16
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Sermon Transcript:

Well, we are less than 40 days, from what the, church calls Pentecost Pentecost Sunday, where we celebrate, the gift, the coming of the Holy Spirit, the gift that Jesus gave to his church, to those who follow him. Jesus called the spirit, the comforter, the great counselor, the one who would lead us into truth. And, you know, for a millennia, God would kind of confine, confine himself to, a temple or, you know, or a particular location. And every once in a while, he would fall through his spirit. He would fall on people. Think about samps, think like someone like Sampson who, was kind of a jerk, actually. And then the Holy Spirit would come upon him and he would do these amazing feats, and then the Spirit would leave and he'd be a jerk again. You know? And so this was kind of the idea that the Jewish people had of the spirit, that he comes and goes. And then Jesus promised that the Spirit would come and stay in his people. And, and the Holy Spirit I've experienced in my life is a game changer.

01:09 A walk of faith without the Holy Spirit, I would say is impossible. We need the Holy Spirit, to help us ha walk, a, a life without fear or anxiety or confusion to be able to walk through life with a sense of confidence that God is, God will have his way in this world, and I don't have to be afraid. And, and the Spirit is, Jesus said, the Spirit is a spirit of peace. And I think there's something we're missing in the Western Church today, and I think it, it's centrally located in our view of and receptivity to the Holy Spirit, his work in our lives. most of us don't access the Holy Spirit on a daily basis. We, we kind of think of, of, of our relationship with Jesus, just more of an intellectual kind of faith where we believe a certain certain things, and that's enough.

02:05 And so we don't experience certain things, and Jesus would never want to divorce his word from His spirit. They're, they, they go together. We actually can't understand this, book without, without the work of the Spirit. We actually, misuse it and abuse it and abuse people with it, when we don't walk in the spirit. And so the Holy Spirit is central to a Christian's faith, and, and journey and walk. And, and so over the next few weeks, we're gonna talk about the Holy Spirit. We're gonna be looking through the Book of Acts, and we're gonna be highlighting different stories for the next few weeks as we lead up to Pentecost Sunday in about 40 days. And we're gonna be talking about some of the ways that the Holy Spirit worked through the church. But before we get there, I want to go to John .

02:49 You're like, John, I thought we were gonna do through Acts. Well, John is like a preamble. one might say it's the, it's, it's the origin story of the Spirit in a sense. It's what Jesus had to say about the Spirit. I want to, I wanna challenge you this week to read five chapters of the Bible. And, before we get too far into Book of Acts, I want you to read five chapters in John Chapters 13 through 17. And, if your Bible is like mine, and you have red letters, you will see on every page, there's very few white letters. There's very few letters that are not written in red. And red is what the words of Jesus spoke. This is the longest conversation recorded in the Bible of Jesus with his friends. And it is all about the Holy Spirit. It's all about Jesus.

03:40 In this past, in these five chapters, he says two things, multiple times over and over 15 times, he tells his friends, I'm leaving. Can you imagine? I mean, they don't know. The disciples don't know. This is their last night with Jesus, before he, goes to the cross. They don't know that Jesus knows that. And so he's telling them, this is, I'm, I'm going to leave. And they're like, eh, I don't think so. , you're still young, you know? but Jesus said, I'm gonna leave. I'm gonna leave 15 times. And then 24 times he says, in this section of scripture, he says, but I'm going to send you the Holy Spirit. I'm going to leave. Yes, I'm leaving, but I'm sending, I'm not gonna leave you as orphans. I'm going to send you the Holy Spirit. And they didn't get it at first. But then after the resurrection of Jesus, as we're gonna see in the Book of Acts, it became very clear to them what Jesus was talking about and why what he was saying was so important.

04:35 This is the last words of Jesus on his deathbed, in a sense, right? When those things that would echo in their hearts and minds when they remember back to, to that last supper moment that's included in John in this passage where Jesus would say, in this passage, you're gonna do greater works than I have. Where he says, in this passage, I'm not gonna leave you as orphans. You know, it's, it is, it's these really important truths that the disciples will remember back on after the resurrection. And so we wanna look at, just, I'm just gonna look at three, three verses. I resisted the urge to read all five chapters to you today. So do that little bit of homework. Pastor gave you homework today, . All right. Verse chapter 14, verse 25, these things I've spoken to you, this is Jesus, these things I've spoken to you while I'm still with you.

05:26 There it is a reference to him leaving, but the helper, the Holy Spirit. I love that Jesus calls them the helper. It's like I'm sending you someone to help you get through this moment, but also to empower you to live into the next. Just love it. I'm still with you, but the helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. The, I mean, it's like these past three years of all the teaching and everything about the Kingdom of Heaven, the Holy Spirit, I'm gonna send him to you, Jesus saying. So you remember all of that. and it's one of the reasons why we have, the amazing stories we have. verse 27, peace I leave with you. I'm going, but I'm sending the Holy Spirit.

06:15 And therefore, and thereby the peace, you will have peace. You'll have a sense of confidence and assurance. You don't have to live overwhelmed with anxiety. The Holy Spirit will come and bring peace. By peace I give to you not as the world gives. It's a completely, it is not, it's not the way the world would, would kind of dole out peace and try to get rid of anxiety. It's a different way. Jesus is sin. I'm gonna send my spirit to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. You don't have to be afraid because I'm not leaving you alone. Yes, I'm leaving. Jesus said, but if I don't leave, then the Holy Spirit won't come. And I can't be everywhere at once. He didn't say that. But I'm, I'm, I'm starting to read into the text. Jesus, I can't be everywhere at once.

07:05 I'm, I'm I, I took on flesh. And he's not going to change that He, after this resurrection, he still had flesh. It was a different kind of flesh, could walk through walls and such, but it was a, but it was still flesh. And he, and, and it was a different version of kind of our humanity. And so he couldn't be everywhere at once. But through the power of the Holy Spirit, this is why it's so important to us, because I I recognize that in so many Christians. And I've lived there where I, we feel alone and isolated and like God has abandoned us. And that is not God's heart for us. Giving of the Holy Spirit was the quintessential moment in the life of the disciples, single handedly giving them a new purpose, a sense of, of, of what the old stories like. Well, we thought it was gonna end this way cross and all of this.

07:58 But now with the Holy Spirit, this old story has a new ending. It's like this amazing, like God can re restore what the enemy has taken. God can renew God, can set us free from addictions. God can, can heal our bodies all through the power of the Holy Spirit. It it changes everything. Changes everything. So that, that's kind of the preamble, the origin story. This, this promised gift of the Holy Spirit. And then Luke, the author of the Book of Acts. It's a two volume, the Gospel of Luke. he wrote first and then, and then the Book of Acts. And in Acts chapter one, we're gonna look at just a few verses here, but we are decades. By the time Luke writes this, we are decades into the Christian movement. so many things have already happened. And so what Luke does in both of his books is he, it's almost like a historical narrative in, in one sense, in that he's just recording, simply recording and went.

08:53 And he investigated. He talked to people, he researched it out, what actually happened when it happened, who was, who was, who was in Rome at the time, et cetera, et cetera. And so he, he gives us this historical narrative, but it's a deeper than that. It's much deeper than that. What he is telling us is that he's giving us the story of Jesus. But what's been funny to me is that this, that the title of the book is the Acts of the Apostles. And that the reason why I find that funny is because yes, on every page there is the work of the apostles of the first followers of Jesus, what they did and the power of the Holy Spirit. But it's not about them. And they would say that it's not about us, it's about Jesus. It's about what he continued to do and teach and work through the power of the Holy Spirit in his church.

09:42 And that's true for us today. That is, we, we continue the story on, if you've ever read at the very end, we're not, we probably won't touch on this in this series, but act the very, very end of Acts, chapter 28. It just kind of ends all of a sudden, like Paul is in Rome, and then we don't know what happens to him. We we're like, Luke, why did you stop writing? We don't know what happens. And it's, it's a fascinating, I was just fascinating to kind of read that and realize, well, the story has continued on for 2000 years. We, we are part of this. That's why we're gonna celebrate Pentecost Sunday because we see our connection to the early church through the baptism of the Holy Spirit, what happened on Pentecost. And so in Luke's first book, it says that he dealt with all that Jesus began to do and teach.

10:35 Let's start in chapter one of the Book of Acts. In the first book, oath, Theophilus, I have dealt with all that Jesus began to do and teach until the day when he was taken up after he had given commands through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom he had chosen. So if you go back and read the last chapter of Luke, you'll see that that's how it ends, is that, you know, Jesus ascends and that's kind of it. And all is done. And , and he gave commands through the Holy Spirit. We're gonna talk about that to the apostles whom he had chosen. He presented himself alive to them after his suffering by many proofs appearing to them during 40 days and speaking about the kingdom of God. So what happened post resurrection is that Jesus, stayed on the earth. He came back to life and stayed on the earth for 40 more days.

11:24 And Luke doesn't give us a ton about what Jesus taught and said and did during those 40 days, other than what's here, what we just read, that Jesus continued to do miracles through the power of the Holy Spirit. He continued to teach as he'd always had, and through the power of the Holy Spirit. And, and he speaks to them about the kingdom of God. And while staying with them, he ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which he, 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. So from the very beginning, Luke is telling us, the Book of Acts, including my gospel, it's all about Jesus. It's all about what he does and continues to do. He's the main actor in this story.

12:16 And everybody just take a deep breath, a sigh of relief. You're not the main character. And for you narcissists, I know you disagree, , you're not, you're not the ma, you're not the hero of your story. And we want, and that's so contrary to how I was raised, and probably many of you who are raised to kind of be the heroes, you know, and be heroic. And it's like, well be heroic. Absolutely be heroic. But this story's not about you. The story is about Jesus who came to set things right? And he's continuing to do that work through his church. We're not the main characters so much. I think so often Christians, we put too much pressure on ourselves to be the heroes of every story, to be right in every conversation, to be the ones who know everything. And he is like, eh, it's man.

13:07 We can get away from that should be comforting for us to realize that Jesus is the main character, he's the hero. I have a confession. I am a treky. For those of you in the room, who knows what that are? Yes, I am. I, I I I can be both a Star Wars fan and a Star Trek fan. I know that's contrary to some of your belief systems, but I can be. And the reason is because, it's my dad's fault. Every time, every time when I come home from school, there would be a Star Trek version of one of the Star Trek shows on the television every day. My dad was addicted to Star Trek. we would watch, obviously the og, right? You know, you got James T. Kirk and Spock and the original, but then there'd be Deep Space Nine Voyager, the Next Generation.

13:57 We watched all the movies. Seriously. I'm watching Picard right now. I mean, it's like, I just, I'm stuck. I'm stuck. But in the, in the original version of Star Trek, it's really funny. this, they had a method and every show kind of was the same , exactly the same actually. but they would have this character in every episode that you never found out what their name was and nor really what they did. But they were kind of in every scene, and they were just always there. And, and what would happen to that character? For those of you that have watched Star Trek, you don't want to admit that you've watched Star Trek. That's not why you're not saying anything . They would die. They would die in every, every episode. You always had a Noname character, , who would sacrifice their life for the greater good.

14:47 But we never got really involved in that character's life cuz we knew nothing about them. But we knew that he was gonna die. And I, so I, I just always had a little bit of fun watching. I was like, which one is it this time? You know? And I would pick the before you knew I would pick that and I was usually right. But anyway, here's the deal. Why, why this stupid story? We're not Captain Kirk and we're also not the known name guy that dies at the end. We are somewhere in between. We're not the hero of our story, but we matter. And why do we matter? Because Jesus promised that we would matter. He promised that he would send his Holy Spirit, the gift of the Father to us so that we could continue to do the work of Jesus. Not our own work for our own benefit, but for his, we're important characters in God's story, but we're not the main character.

15:38 Here's another way to think about it. My niece, Hannah, her writer's name is Hannah Cya. She's a writer on the new Nickelodeon show. Erin and Erin that just got released last week. she's been, for months now. I'm one of the main writers. They have a group of writers, just a handful, and she's one of them. I'm so proud of her. She's like, she's like killing it. She's an incredible writer. she started, her and her husband live in Hollywood and they were trying to make it in the biz, you know, and acting. and she's always had a love for writing. And she ended up getting picked up by this show. and so she is amazing. She is a really good writer, but she's not the main character of the show. , she's, you'll never even see her on this show.

16:21 You'll, you every, you'll every episode if you watching really closely, cuz they go, the credits go by so fast. You'll see her name Hannah Ceria. That's it. But she's an important part of the narrative, nonetheless, even though she's not the main character, and you and I have an important part to play in this story, and he's sending us and has sent us the helper, the one that can help us be a part of writing this story. And by the way, the Holy Spirit isn't like second best. It's not like the disciples were going. They might have felt this way. They might have been like, Jesus, you're leaving, but you're sending us like what The babysitter, I mean, who is this person? We sometimes we can think that the Holy Spirit is like less than, you know, if they're okay, the Trinity Father, son Holy Spirit, no, they're one.

17:14 The Godhead, the Trinity. It's, it's a hugely important concept that God in three persons equal power and authority and love and goodness, they're all. And so when Jesus says, I'm sending you one just like me, it's just like me. That's what he was saying. I'm sending you one. I'm I'm sending you myself through the, it's the spirit. It's, it's me. I'm in the flesh, he's in the spirit. He's going to live where in us , I don't recommend this, but I was, I was in Bible college and I was going, doing some theology stuff and I was volunteering at a church, doing children's ministries. And and I was, I remember teaching, you know, little kids about Jesus and about salvation. I get to the salvation moment and you know, they taught, taught us to pray, help kids, ask Jesus into there, into their hearts, right?

18:09 That's the typ. That was the typical way. I think we probably still do it that way. It's not theologically correct, but we still do it that way. Jesus doesn't live in our hearts. I was trying to explain this to one of my kids when they were young and he was like, well, does he live in your stomach ? I'm like, no, no, no, no, no, no. He doesn't live anywhere. He doesn't live here. He lives at the right hand of the Father. And that's theologically important. I'm not gonna the wrong time to try to unpack that with a five-year-old. I got that . But there's something significant that we've missed when in, even in our theology of trying to think about the work of the spirit. Because we put Jesus, Jesus, we know Jesus is outside of us. We know that. And we can say that He lives in us. But if we are not, if we don't understand that the living in us is through the spirit, then we might not actually have a relationship with the Holy Spirit.

19:02 And I want us to have a relationship with him, just like we have a relationship with Christ and the Father. And Jesus keeps telling his friends, don't be afraid because I'm leaving. Don't be afraid. He will not be alone. Keep the Spirit will come to you and live in you. It's not gonna be a one and done. He's not gonna come and go. He's not gonna. And by the way, you know, David's prayer and Psalms like, take not Holy Spirit from me. When he sends with Shiba and has an affair with her, the King David, his concept was don't because the Spirit came and went, don't take your spirit from me. Listen, the Holy Spirit lives in us and he's not checking out. Even maybe when we do sometimes far too often, we just kind of blunder ahead. We just kind of try to do life without, without the Holy Spirit.

20:02 And we make and we just, we misrepresent him. We misrepresent the word. We, we, we say things that aren't true because we just have, we don't have the Holy Spirit working in our life. The Holy Spirit who is the revealer of all truth, who's the one who will remind you of what Jesus taught. He'll remind you of the way that he lived. And that we need the Holy Spirit. Without the Holy Spirit acting in our lives, we can, we will miss so much. And so often I see in the church today, especially in the western world, I see us, we're just focusing on the wrong things. We're not focusing on the spirit things, things that the Spirit is focused on.

20:40 And that's why Jesus said, you need to wait. And there it is, isn't it? , probably one of the primary reasons we don't walk in the spirit is because we don't know how to wait to sit in a room or go on a walk or drive in our car and think about and rest in and invite the Holy Spirit is a constant partner. Perle, is the Greek word for the Holy Spirit. One who comes alongside the one who comforts us and helps us and reveals to us. He's with us always. Do you recognize that? Does, does your prayer life exude that? Does it as you, as you, as you sit and you're and praying? Do, do you, do you have a sense that the Holy Spirit, do you even pray Holy Spirit film me. Holy Spirit illuminate your word to me. It's not wrong just to, to pray Jesus do those things.

21:47 That's not wrong. But I also, but to, to see the Holy Spirit's work, to actually pray to him, to do what he's already wanting to do is proper. And then, let's, I gotta finish up here. There's one more, couple more verses in acts I wanna look at real quick. Acts chapter six, acts chapter six, acts chapter one. We're still in one verse six. So when they had come together, they asked him, Lord, so they gathered together before Jesus' ascension. It's kind of one of their last moments together, Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel? And what most people have of, have often thought is that the disciples are just echoing back to kind of a, a pre resurrection view of the Messiah, the chosen one, the one that would come and restore Israel to its proper place in over all other nations.

22:41 And so people are thinking, man, these disciples, they're so dense, they're just, they never get this. And I, as I'm, as I was thinking about this and study, I was like, well, you know, there is another view about this passage. I mean they just spent 40 days with Jesus and him talking to them again about the kingdom of heaven. I mean like right on the heels of that, they asked this question, Lord, will you at this time restore this kingdom, restored the kingdom to Israel? And I'm thinking, is that really what it, what they're asking still post resurrection? And then with Jesus says to them, it's not for you to know times or seasons that the Father is fixed in his own authority, but you'll 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 ends of the earth.

23:29 And when you think about that, when you think about the commissioning of Jesus, of his followers, in light of this question, Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel? I don't think they're asking for Israel to be at the top. I think they're asking Jesus, or is Israel going to accept you Now, are they gonna put you at the top? Is your kingdom going to become their kingdom? I think that's not what they're asking. They're not asking for Israel. Is this the time that now Israel will be everything we've dreamed of? They're, I don't think they're asking that. I think they're asking Jesus, is this the moment that you will be lifted up in front of Israel and, and and so that they will see that you are the one true God, the Messiah? Is this, is this gonna happen now? And Jesus, like it's not for you to know the times and seasons .

24:19 It's really important for us to hear that today too. We don't know the times and seasons, only God knows these things. But what our job is to do is to be bold. Wait for the baptism of the Holy Spirit so that then we can be witnesses in the world, in other words, so that we can be the conduits of the very thing the disciples are asking. Jesus, is this the time that Jesus you will be lifted up and Jesus like, no, it's not the time. You, you don't need to worry about the, the timing of all these things. Just wait for my spirit and then go do it. Lift me up by the power of the Holy Spirit, preach my word, heal this sick, do greater works than, than even I did while I was on this earth. I I'm gonna empower you with the Holy Spirit to do this , to let Jesus be, to be lifted up.

25:17 It's an amazing radical new way of thinking. And then, and then the, the early church page after page after page of the Book of Acts is laced with that we're gonna prepare to take sharing communion together. And this is a moment, you know, people have been wondering, why do we, like, we used to only take if you've, if you're new to West Side, we only used to have communion four or five times a year as a community. And we used to started to feel a little bit of the convicting work of the Holy Spirit. Cuz that's another thing that he does. That when Jesus said, as often as you meet together, do this in remembrance of me. I was thinking, we were thinking as a team, we're like, as often as you gather, whoops, , we, we started to feel like what we need to do this, we need to like, make sure that as often as we gather together, that we come to the table together and share in communion.

26:19 It's a, it's a weekly now reminder for us that Jesus sacrificed something for us, right? That he gave for us also a reminder of the work of the spirit in our lives. Because Jesus went to the cross for the joy set before him. It was a work of the spirit that led Jesus to this place of sacrifice. He could do nothing except for what the Father told him to do. And that was through the Spirit. And so in, in the same way as we lean into living the way of Jesus, we cannot do that without the work of the Spirit. And so I wanna encourage you today as we take communion that you would, come in with that kind of anticipation and hunger. So would you stand with me one, one or two prayers that you might pray today as you come forward? If you're ready, if you're hungry like I am in this moment for a fresh move of God's spirit in your life, you can simply say as you come forward and take the the bread and the juice and God, give me a hunger for your spirit. Give me a hunger for your Holy Spirit.

27:48 So Jesus, as we come to your table, that we would be people marked by the power and love and goodness of your spirit. People of the Spirit. Led by your spirit. Guided by your spirit. Directed by your spirit. We pray in Jesus' name. Amen.