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God’s Gift for Mission

The Christmas season is celebrated with gifts. Millions of families across the globe will gather to open packages big and small. Children love to peek into their stockings or rip the wrapping paper to discover what new toy or treasure or candy might lie inside.

The greatest gift any of us has been given is God-in-flesh, Jesus, who came to reconcile us to Himself. Christians celebrate that today. And Jesus also told His disciples to wait for another gift, the one “my Father promised” (1:4). Although previously they had been baptized with water, “in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit” (1:5).

This would be the fulfillment of Christ’s promise given in yesterday’s reading. Notice that Jesus said they would receive this gift in order to bless others: “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (1:8). The coming of the Spirit would not only bring Christ’s comfort and presence; the Spirit was also meant to empower the disciples for witness and mission in the world.

As the disciples gathered together, the Spirit descended on them in a miraculous way, with the result that “all of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them” (2:4). This was no private spiritual experience, but the ability to communicate the gospel to people who had gathered in Jerusalem from across the globe. Just look at the list of people groups in verses 9 through 11!

God’s gift to the world was Christ. After Christ’s ascension, He enabled His people, through the presence of His Spirit, to take the gospel to the world. The gift of God should lead to mission.

Apply the Word

Take time today to take stock of the gifts you have been given—not just those you unwrapped this Christmas but also the many gifts and blessings you have received from the Lord. Be sure to praise the One who gives the greatest gifts (see James 1:17). Ask the Lord to help you use His gifts to you in a way that serves others and brings Him glory.

BY Bryan Stewart

Bryan A. Stewart is associate professor of religion at McMurry University in Abilene, Texas. His particular interests are the history of Christian thought and the way that early Christians interpreted the biblical canon. He is the editor of a volume on the Gospel of John in The Church’s Bible series (Eerdmans), and he has done extensive research on the ways that the early Church preached on this Gospel. He is an ordained minister. 

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