Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this which you see and hear. – Acts 2:33
Life for the disciples of Jesus was no doubt marred with questions in the days following his ascension into Heaven. Much like the thoughts of a new believer, the promise of the Holy Spirit was likely the focus of much of their discussion those 10 days between Our Lord’s Ascension and the Descending of the Holy Spirit at Shavuot (Pentecost in the Greek).
Contrary to the belief of some scholars, the descending of the Holy Spirit was not foreign to them. The Torah, Prophets and Writings made it clear how the Holy Spirit had been present to King David and all the prophets of the old testament to which they were accustomed. Indeed, Jesus had even “opened the scriptures” to the disciples at this point and showed them even more ways the Holy Spirit had moved beyond what even the Pharisees and Sanhedrin of the day were likely aware. But at this point, none of the disciples had experienced first-hand for themselves what it felt to have the Holy Spirit descend “upon” them; all except one.
All these with one accord devoted themselves to prayer, together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers. – Acts 1:13
Until the day of Pentecost, there were only three people in the New Testament mentioned as having experienced the descent of the Holy Spirit:
John the Baptist – Luke 1:15 “for he will be great before the Lord. And he must not drink wine or strong drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb.“
Jesus – John 1:32 “And John bore witness: “I saw the Spirit descend from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him.”
and Mary the Mother of Jesus – Luke 1:35 “And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God.”
Though several of the disciples had witnessed the Holy Spirit at work, and even felt Him move through them, like John’s Mother Elizabeth who exclaims by the power of the Spirit that Mary is the Mother of Our Lord, “And why is this granted to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” (Luke 1:43),and Peter in the same way exclaims that Jesus is the Messiah, “And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 16:16-17), there are no other explicit indications at this point in the Scriptures that anything had shifted from the Old Testament paradigm. Some may cite John 20:22 where Jesus breaths on the disciples at his first appearance in the upper room saying, “receive the Holy Spirit” as proof of prior descent, but Jesus’ actions here are markedly different than the intentions behind the promise of the Father to baptize them with power from on High. This first encounter having the result of peace only without any demonstration of power or gifts as we know it. The Old Testament prophets were known to have done similarly, also, indicating once more the paradigm shift had not yet occurred as it did that day of Pentecost.
Devout Jews, as the disciples were at this time, knew the Holy Spirit descended only upon the prophets, priests and kings of old. That is until the Messiah came to make all believers prophets, priests and kings of new, as John the Baptist had exclaimed to them:
“John answered them all, saying, “I baptize you with water, but he who is mightier than I is coming, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” – Luke 3:16 (Mark 1:8, Matthew 3:11)
When Jesus tells the disciples just before his Ascension that what John the Baptist declared to them is true, it only confirms for them all the more that Jesus is the Messiah. Luke 24:49 “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.”
Ten days they waited for the promise to be fulfilled.
Ten days they wondered with great anticipation what it would be like to be clothed with power from on high.
Ten days they kept their expectation in prayer and study and their hearts fixed upon the One who promised them the Gift of the Father.
And there was only one left alive among them who could tell them what it would be like to be overshadowed and could teach them how to ponder all these things in their heart as they waited on the Lord.
Here are Just 5 Lessons On Posturing Ourselves to Receive the Holy Spirit that We can Begin to Ponder with Her Help
- How expectant are we that we should see the invisible become visible? When the angel appeared to her that day of the Annunciation of our Lord, Mary was expectant. Though she was troubled, she was not dismissive. It was the great love of the Lord that filled her with fear and wonder. Knowing that our Lord can visit us, she employs discernment to determine if the angel is from the Lord or another spirit (Luke 1:26-33). How have we allowed God to develop our discernment for good and evil? Can you discern between what is good and pleasing to the eyes, as Eve saw in the forbidden fruit that day in the Garden, and what is God’s best for you, especially when it looks bad at first?
- Do we have faith to believe God has good things for us and a willingness to cooperate with the plans of Heaven? The angel announced our Father in Heaven wanted to give Mary a gift. Just as Jesus promises us the gifts of the Father (Luke 1:34-37). Are we postured with a heart that believes God is good and wants only good to give us? Are you willing to press into him to receive the Truth of His ways so that you don’t submit to the errors of your ways, like Abraham and Sarah did with Ishmael? Mary shows us the right way to respond to God’s gifts, without pride or arrogance at God’s abilities like Zachariah, John the Baptist’s Father (Luke 1:5-25) but with total faith that cooperates with the plans of Heaven. “As it is above, so below.”
- Are we ready to decree it be done? Mary doesn’t just offer her surrender to the Lord’s ways, she decrees it! Fiat is the greek word to decree. Mary’s Fiat was not just a humble and submissive response to the will of Heaven, but a bold declaration the Father’s will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven. Are you prepared to speak the word of the Lord with boldness as the disciples did in the moments and days following Pentecost? When the Holy Spirit descends upon us, it is to give us power to pull something from the Heavens into the Earth. Mary’s fiat “let it be done according to your word” (Luke 1:38) literally pulled the Messiah from the seat of Heaven into her earthy womb. Are you ready to conceive Heaven’s plans? Are you ready to pull Heaven into Earth?
- Can you marry for life? The Holy Spirit didn’t just descend upon Mary, he continued to dwell inside her for 9 months and then with her every day the Messiah was before her. The disciples pondered what Life in the Spirit might be like for 10 days; Mary pondered it for 9 months. Every day was a day of preparation for motherhood, discipleship and marriage. There was nothing wasted in the waiting. Just as we are new to the ways of the Spirit and must grow accustomed to Him, she would grow in grace also and become a fountain of refreshment and wisdom to others who who would follow in the same way. She not only said yes to the will of Heaven that day, she said yes every day. Are you prepared to be a full-time partner that says Yes to the will of Heaven every day? Could you commit to do the will of your spouse, the Holy Spirit, no matter where he takes you?
- Are you willing to give it away? As soon as the angel departs her, Mary “hastens” to her cousin. Whoever says the church does not move quickly needs to look again at Mary! When we are consumed with love of the Holy Spirit, we must also allow ourselves to be quickened to share that love. Mary hastens to her cousin not for her own sake but for another’s. We see this truth in Elizabeth’s exclamation, “Who am I that the Mother of My Lord should come to me?!” The Gifts of the Holy Spirit are for encouraging and building up the church. Mary demonstrates what the power of the Spirit does, it makes us hasten to others to reveal love, to reveal the hidden Jesus in our womb. Are you ready to reveal Jesus to others?
Like all prophets of the Old Testament, Mary proved to be a powerful Intercessor. She not only had the experience of knowing the descent of the Holy Spirit most intimately, but she knew also how to walk under the full weight of its power in perfect cooperation with the will of the Father, and the kind of bold faith it takes to pull His Heaven into Earth. As any intercessor knows, the life of prayer and intercession is very much hidden. It does not usually come with loud noise and spectacle, but with hidden strength and pondering of heart. The signs and wonders are no less prevalent, however, but one would have to know what to look for to see it. In time, Mary’s life would prove to be a living miracle of faith and proof of our Lord’s great favor over her. Her experience as the Mother of Our Lord more than qualifies her as a Spiritual Mother of the Apostles and every disciple of Jesus thereafter.
In the days following Messiah’s ascent, it’s evident all eyes (and hearts) would’ve turned to His Mama. Just as the friends and family of a dearly departed loved one turns their gaze to their living relatives, the disciples would have quickly discerned something miraculous must have happened to her also to birth the Savior of the World, much less help to raise Him as a Son of God.
It goes without question that she would have joyful hastened to share the love of Heaven with the disciples in the days preceding Pentecost, just as she did that day at the Annunciation, and she would continue to guide them in the ways of moving in His power and grace in the days that followed.
Our Lord left his disciples so many gifts before he ascended into Heaven. Gifts that would continue to be revealed through the gifts of the Holy Spirit, including the gift of all the wisdom of the prophets, and including his Mother. What a treasure trove of graces she must have been able to bestow upon them as they waited to experience the power of the Holy Spirit.
Like Mama Mary, we who have received the power from on High have a great responsibility to raise up the Sons and Daughters of God. And for those who seek spiritual mothers and fathers to help guide them deeper in the ways of grace, Jesus gives to you the same Spiritual Mama He gave to all His Beloved Disciples (and in a special way Joseph too). She is the same Mother of Our Lord that hastens to share Him with anyone who would see Jesus revealed. So long as the Spirit moves and breathes and a willing fiat is found in the land, we are not without hope.
With every Pentecost we observe in our lifetime, may we continue to learn from her example of grace and cooperation with the Holy Spirit. Like the picture portrayed above, may we stand erect, postured to receive His graces, with our arms crossed in humility and give those who hunch down in fear something peaceful to look on and wonder – for we have this Hope we have pondered all our days in our heart. And, may we grow in our faith to receive all power from on High to pull Heaven into Earth!