The three go together. Before Jesus leaves this earth, he commissions his disciples to bear witness to him and his kingdom to the ends of the earth. But they must not begin this task until the Spirit comes to empower them. And the Spirit cannot come until Jesus ascends into heaven as the world’s rightful ruler. And so, Commission, Ascension, Pentecost.
This sequence sets the scene not only for the entire book of Acts, but also for the entire life of the church. We are a people commissioned by Jesus Christ to bear witness to him. As the ascended Lord of all, we are a people committed to bringing the reign of Jesus in heaven to bear upon this earth. And then it’s Pentecost that makes this possible. It is only through the power of the Spirit that the church is able to bear witness to Christ and his reign over all things. It is only through the power of the Spirit that the church can follow in the way of Jesus so that God’s kingdom may come on earth as in heaven.
Pentecost, then, is the season of the church age. The Spirit has fallen upon us. The winter is over. New creation is in bloom. It’s time to go forth into the world, rejoicing in the power of the Spirit.
O God, you have made of one blood all the peoples of the earth, and sent your blessed Son to preach peace to those who are far off and to those who are near: Grant that people everywhere may seek after you and find you; bring the nations into your fold; pour out your Spirit upon all flesh; and hasten the coming of your kingdom; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.