< If you are just beginning to read this series with this post today, you might want to look at the online web page www.ImpulseTSF.org for two background writings that will help you understand this series and the book of Acts. >
They had dropped everything to follow this guy Jesus around Palestine. They saw incredible things – healings and all sorts of miracles, and crowds of people. What a pinnacle moment it must have been to see their teacher riding into Jerusalem and hailed with the shouts of “Hosanna!”
But in less than a week’s time, that had all come crashing down. They saw him die on a Roman cross. Peter appears to be the biggest loser of the crew – cursing in denial of knowing the one whom he had previously called “the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” But back off on being too hard on him, as none of the rest were even close enough to possibly commit such a failure.
But sorrow had turned to unbelievable joy. Jesus had risen. He appeared to them intermittently over a period of 40 days – not as some sort of ghost or spirit, but in his resurrected flesh, even eating with them. Jesus taught them much about the entire idea of the kingdom of God. So many of the confusing events and teachings over the past three years of the earthly ministry of Christ were now being clarified in new ways.
But what was next? Where were they to go? Would Jesus continue with them? Even during the time before these amazing events he had said to them that he was going away … that he would send the Spirit, not just to be with them as he was, but to actually reside IN them. And now, one day while eating together, Jesus said they should stay in Jerusalem until the gift of the promised Holy Spirit would come upon them.
But what about the Kingdom promised to the nation of Israel? Would it be restored at that time? Jesus did not rebuke them for asking a dumb question! It was simply not for them to know or be concerned about the time of such, though it would yet happen. Rather, Jesus gave them the command to be his witnesses, bearing testimony of all they had seen and been taught, beginning there in Jerusalem and then moving out to the whole world.
So, if you were Jesus, would you trust this mission to a bunch of guys who had so recently abandoned you at the most needful hour? I know; it is hard to think like Jesus! But here is the difference: at the end of their period of waiting, they would be baptized by the Holy Spirit – giving them a power that was entirely different than their previous condition. And oh, what a difference it would make! In less than two months, they would go from cowering cowards, to bold witnesses in the visual presence of the most powerful people in society. They would change the world!
Jesus ascended into heaven, from which the announced promise was that he would return in like fashion … and we today yet wait for that return, and we therefore have the same mission as given to those disciples in verse eight. That verse serves as the key sentence that essentially outlines what the book Acts is all about – the witness of the apostles and early believers as through them, empowered by the Spirit, the message of the Gospel would spread from Jerusalem, to the surrounding area of Judea, to the next areas beyond (like Samaria), and ultimately to the ends of the earth.
We call this The Great Commission … and it remains our commission as a church. We want to likewise be faithful locally, to our region and state, throughout our country, and unto the ends of the earth. As a church, we support varied ministries that represent all of these places. At TSF last week we sought to be a blessing to our area by hosting the FCA sports camp, and on Sunday we heard the report of our recent eight-member missions team to Kazakhstan – truly the uttermost part of the earth!
The power is in the work of the Spirit through us; it is not in our flesh or strength. We are dependent upon God, and we express that dependence through prayer as we look to Him to use us by that power of His Spirit living in and through us.
Acts 1:1-11 … Jesus Taken Up Into Heaven
1 In my former book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach 2 until the day he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles he had chosen. 3 After his suffering, he presented himself to them and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God.4 On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. 5 For John baptized withwater, but in a few days you will be baptized withthe Holy Spirit.”
6 Then they gathered around him and asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?”
7 He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
9 After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight.
10 They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. 11 “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.”
< If any of these posts are difficult to read on your device due to the format being scattered or too small, you can always click to go the web site and see the material there in its original form. >