There is a feeling of joy in the Last Instructions of Christ to his disciples in John 14-16. This was no sorrowful saying of goodbye for the Lord. Rather, he spoke of his own joy, and the joy of those he would leave behind (Jn 15:11, 16:20,21,22,24). In his high-priestly prayer that summarizes and crowns those Last Instructions, Jesus prayed that they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves. (Jn 17:13).
Jesus was telling his followers that he was returning to the Father in heaven, and they would be left behind to continue the work (and indeed, greater works) than he had done. He would henceforth reside in heaven, but nonetheless would remain with them through the Holy Spirit. I submit to you that this new dynamic was the joy that was set before him (Heb 12:2). Jesus was seeing the soon fulfillment of a prophetic passage that had been dear to his heart from the earliest days of his ministry.
The Fulfillment of Daniel 7
Daniel 7:13 was clearly an important passage to Jesus. He regularly called himself the Son of man, which title is taken from this verse. At his trial, he quoted Daniel 7:13, telling Caiaphas the High Priest that he would see Jesus fulfill that particular scripture. Let’s consider this verse.
I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him. And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.(Dan 7:13-14)
As previously stated, we can be sure that Jesus had this verse on his mind at his trial because he was quick to quote it to Caiaphas. I believe Jesus had the entire vision of Daniel 7 in his mind on the night before his arrest when he was giving the Last Instructions to the disciples. Daniel's vision not only speaks of the glorification of the Messiah in heaven, but it also speaks of the destiny of the saints of God on earth, which destiny Jesus was speaking of in the Last Instructions.
Notice what happened when Daniel questioned one of the attending angels about the vision.
I came near unto one of them that stood by, and asked him the truth of all this. So he told me, and made me know the interpretation of the things. These great beasts, which are four, are four kings, which shall arise out of the earth. But the saints of the most High shall take the kingdom, and possess the kingdom for ever, even for ever and ever.(Dan 7:16-18)
When Daniel asked the angel to clarify the vision, the heavenly scene is no more spoken of. Instead, the angel speaks of the saints possessing the kingdom on the earth. In fact, the angel expounds on the vision three times, always speaking of the saints on earth receiving the everlasting kingdom (v18, 22, 27).
It should be clear that the saints possessing the kingdom is the earthly correlate of Christ glorified in heaven.
Those Who Are Willing in the Day of His Power
This is why Jesus told the disciples it was good for them that he was going away—they could not receive the Spirit and walk in kingdom inheritance until he was brought to the heavenly throne. And in reciprocity, the victory of Christ is not complete without an overcoming Church in the earth possessing the kingdom.Consider that the preferred passage of the early Church regarding this new heavenly-earthly dynamic was Psalm 110:1 (E.g. Acts 2:34-35).
The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool....Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power,...(Psa 110:1-3)
This speaks of the Lord being glorified at the right hand of the Father in heaven, while his people willingly participate in his victory here on earth. The Lord is even today seated on his throne in heaven, while his enemies are made his footstool. Prophetically, the Lord's footstool is earth (Is. 66:1). His footstool in the earth is being possessed by those willing to walk in his victory and possess the kingdom here and now.
This is all perfectly consistent with the Great Commission, which commands us to go and make disciples of all nations because of the exalted position of Christ.
And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations,(Mat 28:18-19)
We are commanded to go forth and take territory for our Lord on his behalf and because of his glory.
The Cross and the Crown
The symbol of Christianity should therefore be the crown rather than the cross. We are thankful for the cross that provided the way for us to enter the kingdom--but this is only the door to the Christian life. The Christian life should be represented by a crown, or scepter, or throne--because the purpose of our lives is defined by the Christ that sits enthroned in heaven. And the Church’s victory on earth is proportional to how clearly we see Jesus glorified as King of kings in heaven.
Providing Meaning to the Pentecostal Experience
I believe too few in the Pentecostal/Charismatic streams understand the true significance of the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Peter gave us a powerful answer on the Day of Pentecost to the question raised by the amazed crowd, What meaneth this?
According to Peter, the baptism of the Holy Spirit is the earthly manifestation of Christ exalted at the right hand of the Father in heaven. There is an organic connection between the glorified Christ and his Spirit filled believers. As we learn to submit to the indwelling Spirit in our lives, we possess his kingdom here on earth on the Lord's behalf. The Spirit-filled overcoming Church is walking in the victory of the King of kings, and thus securing his kingdom here on earth.Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear.(Act 2:33)