As God transformed apostles, he can transform us
Sunday, April 15, 2012
I love the transformation the apostles go through after Jesus' death and resurrection. They grow from guys who run away in fear as Jesus suffers humiliation, physical abuse and crucifixion into men who speak boldly about the truth of Christ's life, death and resurrection -- men who live Jesus' love as the first members of the church.
I imagine their confusion, fear of the unknown and faith the day after Jesus' death and am amazed. These men didn't have family members, religious leaders or the Bible to introduce them to Christianity. All they knew was what the prophets had prophesied and what Jesus had told them, and this still wasn't making a whole lot of sense in their minds. If it would have been me, I would have been thinking, OK, great, he died now what are we supposed to do?
God shows them. The next day Jesus himself comes to be with them, transforming their fear and disbelief into peace, joy and wisdom. He "opened their minds to understand the Scriptures," (Luke 24:45) fulfilling the promise he had made to Peter at the Last Supper in John 13:7: "You do not understand now what I am doing, but you will understand later."
Forty days later, Jesus sends the Holy Spirit upon the apostles as he promised, giving them the gifts of the Holy Spirit: the Father's wisdom, courage, knowledge, understanding, wonder and awe, right judgment and reverence. This is when they begin to go out to preach the Word of God, baptizing in Jesus' name and doing the work God meant for them -- building the Church -- ever since Jesus asked them to follow him.
Before they are sent out, though, there's a time of preparation that really interests me. Jesus gives the disciples 40 days to spend in prayer and worship, learning from him and being with him, talking about God's Kingdom.
In Acts 1:4, Jesus actually orders them not to leave Jerusalem but to wait for the gift of the Holy Spirit God is going to give them after Jesus ascends into Heaven. The apostles spend this time giving thanks to God and praying together with the other women and men of the church. They also get to spend time with Jesus, which makes them believe "beyond doubt" (Acts 1:3) that Jesus is alive.
This time of formation was crucial to the apostles' understanding their mission and having the foundation to build the church on. From an outsider's perspective, it may not have seemed like a lot was going on or like Christianity was going to take off. But God was doing radical things in these men's hearts and minds, transforming them into mighty men of God who would be leaders of his church.
The apostles' transformation gives me so much hope. It shows that God working in our heart and life isn't contingent on us understanding what he's doing. He is faithful, he is here, and the fruit of his work in us will be visible when he has made it sweet.
Mia Pohlman is a Perryville, Mo., native studying at Truman State University. She loves performing, God and the color purple -- not necessarily in that order.