Whether you call it nationalism, racism, bigotry, protecting our interests, denominationalism, revelation knowledge or socio-economics, there is a root of arrogance that will cause people to breakdown communication and go in different directions. Pride goes before a fall and it can go before a divorce. Arrogance hardens the heart and demonizes the one outside your borders.
If we have so much trouble communicating clearly, how did the message of Jesus pass on from generation to generation and across every human barrier?
It has happened because God has placed the Spirit of Jesus, the Holy Spirit into those who have received Him. When we humble ourselves before God and admit to our pride and brokenness, we see that Jesus is indeed the Savior that we need. God alone is glorious and our homemade towers to Him fall flat. Jesus is the God-built tower that He descended down to us.
We could not engineer a real way to God. But God made the way to come find us. He broke through the barrier of our sin and self-sufficiency. He broke through the walls that we erected to separate us from God and each other.
What happens to you if you receive Jesus? His heart and mission is placed in you. We become barrier breakers. We become God’s communicators of love to the world.
The Galilean boys knew all about John’s baptism. It was an act of cleansing and repentance that affirmed their place in the community of Israel. Anyone that wanted to be good with God needed to be identified with His People. At least that was the common understanding within Judaism.
Jesus begins to speak of a new baptism. He had spoken to them more than once about what the Father had promised to give them. They would be baptized with the Holy Spirit.
Not surprisingly, they took the reference to baptism and processed it through the nationalism they knew as Jews. Generations had taught and looked for a Messiah that would exalt the Chosen People to their rightful place in a kingdom without the rule of other nations over them.
Jerusalem was in the crosshairs of persecution towards Jesus and the disciples. Jesus did not want them to go somewhere safer like Galilee, but to stay in the place of pressure and misunderstanding. In this place a miracle would take place and mark a new way of God working in His People.
We would do well to understand that God’s Spirit is imparted to us, not in the safety of retreating to familiar territory but in the challenging circumstance that God has placed us. In this place, they would be baptized. They would be marked and initiated into new purposes.
Their view of Jesus’ mission was limited to what God would do for them. This baptism into the Holy Spirit would have much greater purposes than they could conceive.
They would not know all of God’s big plans, but they needed to know the mission. They were going to take all that they had seen and heard from Jesus and spread the message worldwide. The message was not intended to stop within Jewish borders. The Holy Spirit would so affect them that they would go to the despised Samaritans with the same message of the Kingdom of God. And it would not stop there, but go as far as humans existed.
As God imparts His Spirit into believers, they become mission-filled believers. They become missionaries first in the language and culture they know, but then it spreads. The Spirit of God changes us to communicate to people that have nothing in common with us.
Where Babel has destroyed relationships and divided people into irreconcilable groups, God’s Spirit moves upon Jesus’ followers to bind up relationships and speak to people with whom they had no previous dialogue with.