When Graves Are Opened and the Glory Gets Out

Today’s selected reading is found in the second New Testament epistle written by the apostle John. More specifically, today’s passage is found in the first three verses of the epistle. When you come to this particular passage of Scripture you find the apostle John writing a second letter, which almost seems to be a sequel to the previous epistle he had written. The first epistle which the apostle John wrote was great in length and contained much language which was directed to those whom the apostle set out to write to. The entire basis and foundation for the first epistle which the apostle John wrote was based upon the personal experience and eyewitness account he encountered during the three and a half years Jesus walked upon the earth. As you begin reading the first epistle which the apostle John wrote unto the saints which were at Ephesus you will find him building the entire epistle upon that which he saw with his eyes, that which he heard with his ears, that which he looked upon, and that which he handled concerning the Word of life. In all reality, the first epistle which was written by the apostle John was centered upon his own personal experience with the One whom he had devoted his entire life to. When reading these epistles which were written by the apostle John—as well as the epistles which were written by the apostle Peter—it is absolutely necessary and imperative that we recognize and understand that these two men were willing to commit and devote their entire lives to and for the sake of the gospel concerning Jesus the Christ. In fact, if you begin reading the New Testament book of the Acts of the apostles you will quickly see that after the day of Pentecost came, and once the promise of the Father—the person and presence of the Holy Spirit—had manifested upon the one-hundred and twenty within the upper room, the apostles were completely and utterly transformed into completely different men. Having spent three and a half years, having been eyewitnesses of Jesus’ proof that He was indeed alive after His resurrection, having been an eyewitness to the ascension of Jesus unto the right hand of the Father, and having been present in the upper room when the Holy Spirit was manifested and poured out, the apostles John and Peter—together with the other apostles—were completely and radically transformed and changed into new men. In fact, what we begin reading in the New Testament book of Acts in the subsequent chapters following the second chapter, we will find the great lengths the apostles were willing to go in order that they might fulfill the tremendous and powerful calling which was upon their lives. Consider if you will a gradual progression if you will concerning the activity of the apostles after the day of Pentecost had come and been manifested:

“Now Peter and John went up together into the temple at the hour of prayer, being the ninth hour. And a certain man lame from his mother’s womb was carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, to ask alms of them that entered into the temple; who seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple ask an alms. And Peter, fastening his eyes upon him with John, said, Look on us. And he gave heed unto them, expecting to receive. Something of them. Then Peter said, Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk. And he took him by the right hand, and lifted him up: and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength. And he leaping up stood, and walked, and entered with them into the temple, walking, and leaping, and praising God: and they knew that it was he which sat for alms at the Beautiful gate of the temple: and they were filled with wonder and amazement at that which had happened unto them” (Acts 3:1-10).

What we read and what we find in these ten verses at the beginning of the third chapter are essentially the first actions which were performed by the apostles after the day of Pentecost had come and had been manifested within the earth. In the second chapter we find all those who were present in the upper room being baptized with the promised Holy Spirit and speaking in divers tongues—tongues which were understood by many Jews from the surrounding regions and lands which were present in Jerusalem. After Peter had stood up before the crowd and multitude which had gathered around them wondering what had taken place, and how these individuals could speak in languages not their own, we find three thousand souls believing on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the church growing exponentially in the first day of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. One thing we must recognize and understand concerning the person and presence of the Spirit, it’s that when the Holy Spirit truly does show up and manifested Himself among us within our midst, it will attract the curiosity and attention of those around us. There will be some who will merely be curious as spectators, but there will be others who will be curious and will want to know more about this promised Holy Spirit. It’s worth noting and pointing out that the outpouring of the Holy Spirit brought with it the gift of speaking in tongues, which attracted the attention, the curiosity and intrigue of those within the city of Jerusalem, and it was this curiosity, which opened the door of opportunity for the apostle Peter to emphatically proclaim and declare the gospel concerning Jesus Christ. That which took place on the day of Pentecost was not intended to remain in the upper room with the one-hundred and twenty, but was intended to thrust them forth from the midst of that room, and into the streets of the city of Jerusalem. It was the curiosity surrounding the events of Pentecost that attracted the attention of those within the city of Jerusalem, and it was that curiosity which prompted the apostle Peter to stand up in the midst of them and emphatically proclaim the news regarding the outpouring of the promised Holy Spirit, as well as the gospel concerning Jesus Christ. One of the most powerful and incredible realities we must recognize and consider when we read the second chapter of the New Testament book of Acts, is that when the Holy Spirit truly is manifested among us in our midst, He will always bring about the promotion of Jesus Christ, as well as calling men and women to repentance of their sins and belief on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.

There would be many who would think that when the Holy Spirit is manifested among us within our midst, it is intended to be experienced and enjoyed within the four walls of the house of God. The truth of the matter is that the Holy Spirit was never released on the day of Pentecost to remain confined within the upper room with the one-hundred and twenty who had gathered themselves together in prayer, in fasting, in intercession, and in fellowship with one another. The Holy Spirit was not poured out and released upon the one-hundred and twenty years to remain in an upper room, and to be confined within four walls. In the Old Testament the glory of the Lord was confined to the Holy of Holies behind and beyond the veil—first in the Tabernacle, and second in the Temple when it was built and constructed by Solomon son of David. In the Old Testament—the glory of the Lord was always manifested beyond the veil, and in the Holy of Holies where the Ark of the Covenant was present with the Mercy Seat above it with the two cherubim facing each other above it. What’s more, is that only the high priest was permitted to go beyond the veil, and even that only once a year, and only through access granted by blood, and being shrouded by smoke before the Ark of the Covenant. When the Holy Spirit was poured out and released upon the one-hundred and twenty which were in the upper room, it’s worth noting that the second Jewish Temple was still standing within the city of Jerusalem. I can’t help but wonder how far the upper room where the one-hundred and twenty abided in was from the Temple itself, and just how close in proximity the release of the Holy Spirit could have been to the actual Temple of the Lord which stood upon the holy Temple Mount within the city of Jerusalem. We must recognize and understand that when the Holy Spirit was released and poured out upon the one-hundred and twenty in the upper room, He was not released within the Temple where men and women gathered together in worship of the true and living God with their sacrifices and offerings. Only fifty days prior to that the veil which separated the Holy of Holies from the Holy Place was torn in two from top to bottom upon the death of Jesus Christ upon the cross of Calvary. Consider the tremendous significance between the veil within the Temple being torn in two from top to bottom, and fifty days later the Holy Spirit being poured out and released upon men and women in an upper room completely separate from the Temple itself. How incredibly interesting it is to think and consider how the Holy Spirit was not released within the Temple which was made with human hands, but was released upon flesh within a lowly upper room.

It’s worth noting that when the Word of Life came into this world, He came not upon a throne as a King, but He came born of a Virgin, born in a lowly manger, and all because there was no room in the inn. When the Holy Spirit was poured out and released in the earth upon the one-hundred and twenty, He was poured out upon one-hundred and twenty within a lowly upper room. JESUS WASN’T BORN IN A PALACE AND THE HOLY SPIRIT DIDN’T COME WITHIN THE TEMPLE! This is quite remarkable and astounding, for more often than not we seek Jesus in the palace and upon a throne, when where we can find Him is actually in a lowly manger surrounded by shepherds and animals on a starry night in Bethlehem. More often than not we look for the Holy Spirit in the Temple—perhaps even in the Holy of Holies—when in all reality, the Holy Spirit is actually present within an upper room completely separated from the Temple itself. When the Holy Spirit came, and when the Holy Spirit was manifested within the earth, He did not come in the Temple which was made with hands—a reality which I can’t help but be absolutely captivated by, for it’s almost as if when the Holy Spirit was released and poured out, the Father was declaring unto men and women that the Holy Spirit of the living God—the very person and glory of God Himself—could not be contained within houses and temples made with human hands. Consider if you will the gradual and natural progression from the veil within the Temple being torn in twain from top to bottom, the Holy Spirit being poured out and released upon flesh, and Stephen’s words concerning the glory and presence of the living God not dwelling in temples made with human hands:

“Jesus, when He had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost. And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent; and the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, and came out of the graves after His resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many” (Matthew 27:50-53).

WHEN VIELS ARE TORN AND GRAVES ARE OPENED! As I sit here and read the words which are found and contained within this passage of Scripture I can’t help but be absolutely captivated by the fact that at the death of Jesus—not only was the veil in the Temple opened, but so also were graves opened. When we think about and consider the death of Jesus who is the Christ and the Son of the living God, we must understand that not only did His death bring about the removal of the veil which separated the Holy of Holies from the rest of the Temple—yea, even the rest of the world outside the four walls of the Temple—but His death also opened the graves of many whose bodies had been buried. It was His death which brought about the opening of graves within the land, but it was His resurrection which caused the bodies of those who were found within those graves to come forth. THROUGH DEATH GRAVES ARE OPENED, THROUGH RESURRECTION MEN RISE UP! It was Jesus’ death upon the cross which caused the veil which separated the Holy of Holies from the rest of the Temple and world to be torn away and removed, thus signifying the release of the glory and presence of the living God. Though by this time the Ark of the Covenant had long been removed from the picture and from the equation, there will still a veil which existed within the Temple—a symbol that the glory of the Lord was limited and confined to the Holy of Holies. With and through the tearing away of the veil a powerful and emphatic message was proclaimed and declared within the earth, for no long would the glory of the living God be brought forth from beyond and behind the veil, but so also would the glory of the living God be manifested outside the Temple itself. Consider if you will the account of the day of Pentecost as it is recorded by the beloved physician Luke in the second chapter of the New Testament book of Acts:

“And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance” (Acts 2:1-4).

Within these four verses we find the promise of the Father—the person and presence of the Holy Spirit—being poured out and released upon the one-hundred and twenty who were present within the upper room there in the city of Jerusalem. Having listened to and obeying the words which Jesus declared unto them prior to His ascension to tarry in Jerusalem until they be endued with power from on high, they gathered themselves together in the upper room where they gave themselves to prayer, to fasting and to intercession. For ten days the apostles, together with the women, Mary the mother of Jesus, and Jesus’ brethren, as well as others, gathered themselves in the upper room to give themselves to prayer and waiting for the promise of the Father. None of them had absolutely any clue what would or could take place in their midst—only that Jesus had commanded and instructed them to tarry and wait in the city of Jerusalem until they be endued with power from on high. When the day of Pentecost actually came, the Holy Spirit was manifested in an upper room within the city of Jerusalem, and not in the Temple. In all reality, I would dare say that the Holy Spirit could not have been poured out within the Temple, for the veil had already been torn in twain from top to bottom at the death of Jesus Christ. In order for the Holy Spirit to be released upon all flesh, the veil which existed in the Temple needed to be torn away and removed—an act which could only be performed and completed through and by the death of Jesus Christ. I am convinced that the Holy Spirit could only be poured out and released through and by the death of Jesus Christ, for through the death of Jesus Christ atonement had been made, redemption had been completed, and the veil was torn away and removed within the Temple. With the veil no longer separating the Holy of Holies from the outside world, the Holy Spirit—the very embodiment of the glory of God after the ascension and departure of Jesus—could now be poured out and released upon all flesh within the earth. The veil being torn in twain from top to bottom was made possible through the tearing of the physical flesh of Jesus the Christ, and with that veil being torn in twain, the Holy Spirit could now be released outside the Temple, and outside the Holy of Holies. What I love about the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon the one-hundred and twenty within the upper room is that it signified and suggested that the glory of God, and the Holy Spirit Himself could not be contained, nor would they dwell in temples made with human hands. When it time past the glory of God would be relegated and confined to the Holy of Holies beyond the veil—the Holy Spirit would be manifested beyond the veil and outside the Temple. I am convinced this is the main reason why the Holy Spirit was poured out and released in the upper room within Jerusalem and not in the Temple—a reality which was confirmed when Stephen stood before the Sanhedrin and crowd within the city of Jerusalem:

“Our fathers had the tabernacle of witness in the wilderness, as He had appointed, speaking unto Moses, that he should make it according to the fashion that he had seen. Which also our fathers that came after brought it with Jesus into the possession of the Gentiles, whom God crave out before the fade of our fathers, unto the days of David; who found favour before God, and desired to find a tabernacle for the God of Jacob. But Solomon built Him an house. Howbeit the most High dwelleth not in temples made with hands; as saith the prophet, Heaven is my throne, and earth is my footstool: what house will ye build me? Saith the Lord: or what is the place of my rest? Hath not my hand made all these things? Ye stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye. Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted? And they have slain them which shewed before of the coming of the Just One; of whom ye have been now the betrayers and murders: who have rejected the law by the disposition of angels, and have not kept it” (Acts 7:44-53).

This reality concerning the God of heaven not dwelling in temples made with human hands was again emphasized by the apostle Paul when he journeyed to Athens and found an altar with the inscription “TO THE UNKOWN GOD.” Consider if you will the words which the apostle Paul declared unto the Athenians when he stood before them in the region of Greece:

“Ye men of Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious. For as I passed by, and behold your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, Him declare I unto you. God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that He is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands; neither is worshipped with men’s hands, as though He needed any thing, seeing He giveth to all life, and breath, and all things. And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation; that they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us: for in Him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring. Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man’s device” (Acts 17:23-29).

Both the apostle Paul, as well as Stephen—interesting enough, the man whose murder he consented to—declared unto their respective audiences that the living God dwells not in temples made with human hands, for there is no house or temple that could contain Him, nor His glory, nor His presence. When the Holy Spirit was poured out and released on the day of Pentecost, I would dare say that by not coming or being released within the Temple which stood in Jerusalem, the Father was emphatically declaring that there was no temple, nor human structure that could contain the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit would be manifested without borders, without limitations, without boundaries, and without restrictions, for the Holy Spirit would have as His Temple the body of Christ. Consider if you will the words which the apostle Paul wrote in the sixth chapter of the first epistle written unto the saints which were at Corinth: “What? Know hey not that your body is the Temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). Consider also the words which are found in the sixth chapter of the second epistle which the apostle Paul wrote unto the same Corinthian congregation: “And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? For ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty” (2 Corinthians 6:16-18). Both of these passages bring us face to face with the reality that the Temple which the Holy Ghost dwells in is not only a Temple made without human hands, but it is also a Temple that is made up of flesh and blood. Though the Holy Spirit was poured out and released upon one-hundred and twenty within the upper room, the Holy Spirit would be found within an entirely different Temple—one that was made without human hands, and one that was made of flesh and blood. What’s more, is that on the day of Pentecost there stood within and upon the earth two distinct temples—a temple which was made with and by human hands, and a temple which was made without human hands. For nearly four decades these two temples stood in existence upon the earth until the temple which was made with human hands was destroyed when the Romans invaded Judaea and Jerusalem, and destroyed the Temple with fire. [Please note that this was the third time the Temple of the Lord was destroyed, for the first was when Solomon’s Temple was destroyed by the Babylonians, the second was when the Temple of Jesus was destroyed upon the cross, and the third was when the Romans destroyed Herod’s temple within the city of Jerusalem]. It’s worth noting that although the Temple which was made with human hands was destroyed by the Romans, there still existed and stood within the earth a different Temple—one that was made without human hands, for the Temple of the Holy Spirit remained in existence upon the earth. Ever since then, this Temple made without human hands has remained in existence upon the earth, and has manifested the glory and presence of the living God within and upon the earth.

The Holy Spirit being poured out and released upon the apostles and the rest of those who were gathered together in the upper room not only enabled the glory and presence of the living God to move and exist beyond the veil, but it also enabled what would become the body of Christ to continue the ministry which Jesus Christ Himself performed and completed upon the earth. Though Jesus Christ had ascended unto the right hand of the Father who was in heaven, the spiritual body of Christ which remained upon the earth and would continue the ministry and assignment which He began during those three and a half years He was manifested among men and women. What we find and what we read in the New Testament book of Acts is a treatise concerning the works and deeds of the body of Christ, which is completely different from the first treatise written by the beloved physician Luke which concerned the works and ministry of Jesus Christ Himself. The activity we find written and recorded in the New Testament book of Acts describes how dramatically and drastically the lives of the apostles were transformed—not only by the death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ, but also by the release and outpouring of Jesus Christ. When we come to the fourth and fifth chapters of the New Testament book of Acts we find the apostles boldly and without reservation and hesitation proclaiming the good news concerning the kingdom of God, and concerning the person of Jesus Christ. Despite the tremendous opposition and persecution they would experience as a result of speaking concerning Jesus Christ, the apostles could not cease proclaiming the truth concerning Jesus. Consider if you will the words which are found and recorded in the fourth chapter of the New Testament book of Acts:

“And as they spake unto the people, the priests, and the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees, came upon them, being grieved that they taught the people, and preached through Jesus the resurrection from the dead. And they laid hands on them, and put them in hold unto the next day: for it was now eventide. Howbeit many of them which heard the word believed; and the number the men was about five thousand. And it came to pass on the morrow, that their rulers, and elders, and scribes, and Annas the high priest, and Caiaphas, and John, and Alexander, and as many as were of the kindred of the high priest, were gathered together at Jerusalem. And when they had set them in the midst, they asked, By what power, or by what name, have ye done this? Then Peter, filled with the Holy Ghost, said unto them, Ye rulers of the people, and elders of Israel, If we this day be examined of the good deed done to the important man, by what means he is made whole; be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by Him doth this man stand here before you whole. This is the stone which was set at naught of you builders, which is become the head of the corner. Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved. Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marveled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus. And beholding the man which was healed standing with them, they could say nothing against it. But when they had commanded them to go aside out of the council, they conferred among themselves, saying, What shall we do to these men? For that indeed a notable miracle hath been done by them is manifest to all them that dwell in Jerusalem; and we cannot deny it. But that is spread no further among the people, let us straitly threaten them, that they speak henceforth to no man in this name. And they called them, and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John answered and said unto them, Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard. So when they had further threatened them, they let them go, finding nothing how they might punish them, because of the people: for all men glorified God for that which was done. For the man was above forty years old, on whom this miracle of healing was shewed” (Acts 4:1-22).

What I love about this passage of Scripture is what was perceived about Peter and John on this particular occasion, for if you begin reading with and from the thirteenth verse you will find how those who beheld these two men observed the boldness which they possessed, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men. Such a perception caused them to marvel, for they could not fathom or understand how they could possess such boldness being ignorant and unlearned men. Perhaps the greatest revelation that struck those who observed Peter and John was that they had been with Jesus. I absolutely love reading this passage of Scripture, for there are essentially three distinct realities which they observed and could not deny—the first which was their boldness, the second which was that they had been with Jesus, and the third was the man which was healed standing with them. BOLDNESS, PRESENCE, & HEALING! Those who observed Peter and John could not deny or dispute that these men had been with Jesus, and they could not deny or dispute the testimony of the man who was healed according to the name of Jesus, and as such, they could argue very little against either. I am utterly and completely convinced that two of the greatest realities which we as the people of God must possess within our lives is not only presence and experience—“that they had been with Jesus”—as well as testimony—“and beholding the man which was healed standing with them.” We must understand that upon seeing and observing that they had been with Jesus, as well as the testimony of the man who had been healed, they could say nothing, nor argue anything against it. Even when they sent Peter and John out from among their midst, and when they conferred among themselves, they all agreed that a notable miracle was performed by them and is manifested among all those within Jerusalem. I absolutely love how Luke not only records that they could say nothing against the miracle which was performed among them within the city of Jerusalem, as well as their words that they could not deny what had taken place among them within the city. When I read the words which the apostle John wrote concerning that which he saw with his eyes, that which he heard, that which he looked upon with his eyes, and that which he handled concerning the Word of life, I can’t help but be reminded of these words spoken concerning them being with Jesus. Oh, the question we must ask ourselves is whether or not our lives points to the fact that we have been with Jesus. When others look upon our lives, is it notable that we have been with Jesus, and that our lives have been touched, transformed and impacted by the person and presence of the Holy Spirit. Is there anything about us that separates us from those around us? We dare not underestimate the tremendous power that surrounds encounters with Jesus, and the testimony of the power that exists in Jesus name. Oh that our lives, oh that our churches, oh that our ministries would be characterized by an experience and encounter with Jesus the Christ, as well as the awesome power that exists within the testimony of those whose lives have been changed and transformed by the name of Jesus. APOSTLES WHO HAVE BEEN WITH JESUS & THE TESTIMONY OF THOSE WHO HAVE BEEN TOUCHED BY JESUS! The apostles bore the testimony that they had been with Jesus, and this man bore the testimony that he had been healed and transformed by the name of Jesus. Let this be a wonderful and powerful call to action within our lives as the saints of God and disciples and followers of Jesus Christ, for it is absolutely imperative that we understand the importance of a life spent with Jesus, and the importance of the testimony of being touched, healed and transformed by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth.

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