What was going through the minds of Mary, the disciples, and Jesus’ followers as they sat in the Upper Room? Did they exchange eye contact? Did they talk in whispers? Just how afraid were they? Did they, even KNOWING, after SEEING with their own eyes and TOUCHING with their own hands, still question whether Jesus would keep His word? Did they still wonder whether He would truly send someone to be with them? Did they keep fears to themselves, afraid saying them aloud would make them come true? Did they keep quiet, bravely not wanting to drag others down?
We can speculate about thoughts of believers between the Ascension and Pentecost and get nowhere fast, or we can learn from studying what they did while their belief mingled with their lingering human fear, uncertainty, and confusion.
Thanks to the Resurrection, those early believers finally understood that Jesus was far more than a buddy. Before the Resurrection, they knew there was a Hope in Jesus that didn’t come from the average carpenter’s son, but they couldn’t understand exactly what caused that Hope or what it meant.
This lack of understanding caused some, like Peter, to turn away in Jesus’ hour of greatest need. It caused others, like Thomas, to require proof before opening their hearts to the opportunity Jesus’ Life and Death meant. For three long days between Good Friday and Easter Sunday believers wandered without direction .
On the contrary, the time between Easter Sunday and the Ascension must have been a period of jubilation mixed with amazed disbelief, not disbelief as we see in Doubting Thomas, but disbelief as in Joy unparalleled and absolute wonder that The Savior would choose to make Himself present to THEM!
But one part of Jesus’ return must have clouded the disciples’ minds just a bit.
When Jesus leaves them for this final time, their humanity must have reminded them of the fear and confusion that followed the Last Supper. This time though, there’s not that same level of fear or confusion. This time, there is Trust in the Lord.
The followers, while still fearful and uncertain, have a Peace in their not-knowing, a willingness to not have to know everything, an okay-ness with letting the Lord control timing and methods. Even though they must have wanted immediate action, they chose to be okay waiting and carrying out simple, what must have seemed to many as unproductive, instructions given to them by Jesus Himself.
This time when Jesus leaves, the disciples choose to turn over control, follow direction, and simply believe. They do not turn from the Lord again, not in fear, not in confusion, not in doubt. They have human emotions, but they also have the gift of free will to choose to control the effects of these emotions, to do as Jesus says, and to simply wait.
A Waiting Period – 4 Lessons from the Upper Room
Many of us are in a state of waiting: waiting to launch a business, waiting for children to appreciate our sacrifices, waiting for peace of mind and healing of broken hearts, waiting to be valued and to find worth within ourselves. In that waiting we experience human emotions: fear, confusion, loneliness, maybe even anger, grief, or bitterness. Emotions are normal. What we choose to do about them separates the few from the many.
Whether you have been abandoned by a spouse or are in a struggling Marriage, life can be challenging, but a tragic outcome is not predetermined. Being the Luke 24 disciple can make all the difference for you and future generations!
1) Open Your Mind to Possibility
After the Ascension, the disciples are again in a state of waiting similar to after Jesus’ death, but this time they understand enough to allow their minds to be opened to unimagined possibility. It is not until they believe the worst has happened that they begin to understand. It is not until they realize that life as they know it is over that they begin to realize how much they were missing out on by grasping so tightly to what they knew.
In the final chapter of the Gospel of Luke we read:
He said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the law of Moses and in the prophets and psalms must be fulfilled.”
Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures.
If you believe the worst has happened, that life as you thought it would be is over, that love itself has died, turn your thinking around. Open you mind to doing things totally differently. Seek to understand rather than be understood. Know that you may be missing out on Beauty you can’t fathom by holding onto glitz you’re tempted with.
2) Be Still & Know that I am God
We know this famous verse from Psalm 46, verse 11 which contrasts the behavior of the disciples after Jesus’ death when the disciples scatter a bit, wanting to get away but not knowing where to go.
After the Ascension, things are different. This time, human emotions must have made some want to go out and excitedly tell all the world what they now knew to be true. Others must have still feared what they would physically and mentally encounter. These must have fought the urge to flee.
After the Ascension however, the faith of the disciples is strong enough to simply follow the direction they are given. We see the call to stay and wait in Luke 24
And [behold] I am sending the promise of my Father upon you;
but stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.”
and in the Acts of the Apostles
While meeting with them, he enjoined them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for “the promise of the Father about which you have heard me speak;
Usually when we are frightened or confused, our fight or flight reflex kicks in and we do the first thing that comes to mind. Motivation often comes from the desire to move away from pain or toward pleasure. Add to that well-meaning friends and family who urge us (often indirectly, through the lie of sympathetic omission, or in fear of sounding unsympathetic) to leave our spouses, to find someone new, or to move from one place to another.
Another way is shown to you in the Luke 24 disciple who sits and waits. Perhaps doors have been opened for you, temptations have been thrust before you. Perhaps you are motivated to move from pain or toward pleasure. Perhaps family and friends push you to do so.
That doesn’t mean you have to go.
Think of what the disciples would have missed out on if they’d simply acted on their own desires to act now! By following the command of Jesus to wait, “until you are clothed from the power on high,” they were truly given power from on high.
How does the power you have now, compare to receiving power from on high? What would you do if you were given power from on high? You may think you can’t take anymore. You may think you have to get out now. You may wonder how long you should deal with this situation, but by waiting it out, you may be preparing for the Lord’s best rather than your own best.
3) Don’t Just Sit There – What You Do Counts!
Those early believers didn’t just sit around gossiping. They didn’t just sleep or play games on their stone tablets. They didn’t make plans amongst themselves.
They built their relationship with God. They didn’t just pray a hurried prayer on their way to work or shout out a disrespectful OMG when something crazy happened. They prayed. They didn’t just pray lying in their beds at night. They prayed all the time!
and they were continually in the temple praising God.
They spent time in the Temple.
With other believers.
Without that prayer time, perhaps they would not have been strong enough to receive the tremendous power of the Holy Spirit. Maybe the Father who created the disciples understood that the wind of the Spirit would literally knock the breath from His children. Maybe He gave them that time to strengthen themselves and prepare for amazement. Maybe they needed that time in prayer before they could travel from their comfortable zone.
We may not know why the disciples needed to wait again between the Ascension and Pentecost were for or what was going on in Heaven during that time, but we do know we would be wise to follow the prayerful example in all circumstances, especially when things are unclear.
We too should spend time in deep, continuous prayer, building our relationship with the Lord. We too should not be satisfied with quiet, muttered, hurried prayer in our homes, our cars, or even in our places of business. We must seek out the Church and surround ourselves with other believers.
Look at your circles, friends, family, coworkers. They may be nice and fun to be with, but how do they help you attain the Peace and healing you seek? What is the difference between those who make you comfortable and those who make you reach for more? How is the more you reach for simplifying or complicating your life? How is it helping you reach your eternal goals or giving you a cheap, in comparison, payoff?
4) Follow Seemingly Meaningless Directions
Turning to the Acts of the Apostles we see, The Choice of Judas’s Successor in Acts 1: 15-26. Why was it important for there to be the exact number of disciples the Scriptures foretold? I’m guessing the Apostles didn’t know. They just knew the Holy Spirit had inspired the words. That was enough.
So they followed what they were told, this time, without question. And in the very next verses, we see the Holy Spirit rewards them with His physical presence in thee form of wind and tongues of fire.
When the time for Pentecost was fulfilled, they were all in one place together. And suddenly there came from the sky a noise like a strong driving wind, and it filled the entire house in which they were. Then there appeared to them tongues as of fire, which parted and came to rest on each one of them. And they were all filled with the holy Spirit and began to speak in different tongues, as the Spirit enabled them to proclaim
Their faithfulness has paid off! The disciples have grown so much since that terrible Good Friday! They no longer scatter aimlessly in fear and confusion. Instead, they have opened their minds to the Lord’s teaching. They have learned to harness their gift of free will and to use it for Good rather than for the moment. They have learned the value of being still, of joining with like-minded folk, and of praying continuously. They have learned their is a purpose for following God’s Word even when it seems trivial or not relating to the current period.
They didn’t know how long the would wait for Pentecost or what Pentecost, a day we take for granted, even was, but they remained and they began to understand. And in their Upper Room, they were rewarded.
You too may be in your personal Upper Room. You may still be stuck in the long days between your Good Friday and Easter Sunday. Maybe you are waiting unsure of what to do next, laying plans and preparing to leave or overwhelmed and unable to plan anything at all. Maybe you want to head out on your own, to “fight or flight,” but maybe there is more to it that you’re not seeing fully right now.
Each of us has his or her own Upper Room. Take the time to read the Scriptures and pray that the Lord protects and leads you and those around you so that you are, “clothed with power from on high.”
And embrace the Holy Spirit. You can do amazing things with His gifts!
*I’ve seen some debate about whether the Holy Spirit actually appeared to the 120 in the Upper Room or in the temple. We are told the disciples are in the temple “continuously” so I see where the question comes from, but Acts 2 clearly states the Upper Room. For that reason and others, I use this Upper Room, but I think the main point is not the setting of the story but the characters involved and the event that took place.
**I apologize for anyone who got the two drafts of this post in their email, and I thank you for your patience! Some people learn from their mistakes the first time. Others are a bit slower to learn!! I’ll let you determine where I fit in here 😉 LOL
And, as always, thanks for commenting, liking, following, and sharing!
SUBSCRIBE to Single Mom Smiling’s monthly newsletter.