Concerning this salvation, the prophets, who spoke of the grace that was to come to you, searched intently and with the greatest care, trying to find out the time and circumstances to which the Spirit of Christ in them was pointing when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow. It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but you, when they spoke of the things that have now been told you by those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. Even angels long to look into these things.
Media platforms are full of split-screen time-shifting stories where events occur simultaneously in two different time frames. I’ve only seen one or two, and I’m not necessarily endorsing them all, but the concept is intriguing.
In a sense, that’s what we’ve got in these few short verses. In time past – long, long ago – Old Testament prophets received revelations about the coming of Christ. They didn’t understand all of the details regarding how those prophecies would be fulfilled, but they faithfully spoke them out to the community of faith.
Fast forward to the first century, in the days and years following Jesus’ ministry. The early Christians were living in the fullness of that revelation. Christ had come and suffered and been exalted. The glories of the Gospel had been revealed, and those early believers had become the beneficiaries.
Between these two time periods, the common denominator – connecting both – is the Holy Spirit. He was active in the hearts and minds of those early prophets, giving them insights beyond themselves – not revealing everything, but giving enough understanding so that they knew Christ was coming, and that he would suffer, and that he would be glorified. They yearned to know more, but the Spirit simply revealed that the prophecies were for the benefit of future generations. They didn’t have a full picture, but what they did have was given from the hand of the Holy Spirit.
That same Spirit – “the Holy Spirit sent from heaven” – was active centuries later as the early church was being birthed, empowering those who were gifted and called to preach the Good News of Jesus. It was the Spirit who initiated this proclamation of the fulfilment of the age-old prophecies which he himself had revealed so long before. Those early believers received the message, having their eyes opened to see Jesus and receive him, purely and simply because of the work of the Holy Spirit.
He's still at work today. He is the one who has allowed us to hear the message also. If we have responded in faith to Jesus – receiving his salvation and embracing him as Lord – it is by the gracious work of the Spirit in our own lives, here and now.
And so, the simultaneous activity of the Spirit continues, stretching from Old Testament times into the days of Christ’s ministry, into the early church, and then extending into my own life right now. I am so grateful.
Amazingly, his work down the ages has been done for my benefit. And for yours. Don’t miss it. For “even angels long to look into these things.”
Gracious Holy Spirit, sent from heaven, thank you for your work, both in the past and in the present. Thank you for sending messengers of Good News that I might hear and respond. Thank you for working in my heart to receive what I’ve heard. Thank you for carrying that work forward by using me in your purposes, too.
To the honour and glory of Jesus, my Lord. Amen.
Give Thanks: Reflect on the Spirit’s work through the ages of time: in the prophets, in the early church, in your own life. Consider the implications. Give thanks. Submit to his ongoing work.