After Jesus’ crucifixion and death, the Apostles were ready to pack it in. They thought Jesus was the Messiah, but now believed they were wrong, so it was back to the way things were 3 ½ years ago. When Jesus rose from the dead, things weren’t much different, as far as the Apostles’ usefulness to the Gospel was concerned. They knew they had abandoned Jesus and seemed to be utter failures, especially Peter. According to John 21 he wanted to return to his fishing career. He denied Jesus once, and he certainly was not about to face similar circumstances that would put him in the position of doing it again.
Everyone boasted of their loyalty before the cross, but they had nothing but shame afterward. They didn’t perceive themselves on the other side of the cross in quite the same way they did when they walked with Jesus before his death. Jesus had thoroughly instructed them about the Gospel. They were sent out on their own in Galilee and created quite a stir, performing miracles and preaching Jesus as the Messiah. What was different now that they simply felt so inadequate for the task ahead of them? It seems that knowing the right thing to do simply is not enough when it comes to doing the work of God.
Jesus told his disciples “to wait for the Promise of the Father” there in Jerusalem, which he had mentioned to them before (Acts 1:4). On the day of his resurrection Jesus told the disciples that they would later be filled with the Power of God which he would send from the Father. Notice:
And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high. (Luke 24:49 KJV)
If the work of God is to be fulfilled, the power of God is necessary to fulfill it. The Apostles were fully trained by Jesus, but they lacked God’s Spirit—the Presence of God within them. It is so natural to think we can preach the Gospel and do the works of God like the world does its work, to measure our success in the same manner in which the world measures its success. I’ve seen godly men using worldly methods of evaluating the evangelization of neighborhoods, saying if one knocks on 1000 doors one can expect ‘X’ number of people to respond to the Gospel. However, this is nothing more than operating under the ‘law’ of probability. Gamblers operate under such a system. In ancient times Tyche was the Greek goddess of ‘chance’ and ‘probability.’ People ordered their lives around such mythological figures. But, is this how we should order the work of God?
It is simply not enough to know what to do! We need the power of God working on our behalf as we preach the Gospel. The Apostles prayed for the power of God to come upon them (Acts 1:14), and God moved upon them to do his work, confirming their word as they served him. The ‘Great Commission’ is not so much a command by God as it is an invitation of God to go to the world under the Power of the Holy Spirit to accomplish the works of the Gospel of Jesus.