"After his suffering, he showed himself to these men 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. 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..." (Acts 1: 3-4a)
Good morning. Thanks for joining me once again as we continue our Journey Through the Bible. Today we begin the Book of Acts. This writing has often been referred to as the Gospel of the Holy Spirit. The Book of Acts is the second book in a two-volume set written by the same writer as the Gospel of Luke. We, of course, believe that to be Luke the physician. In both books Luke dedicates his work to a person by the name of Theophilus. (See Luke 1:1 and Acts 1:1) I have stated before that Theophilus was likely a patron of Luke and perhaps even funded the writings.
The Book of Acts is an important writing for many reasons. We will discover how the Church was born. We will be introduced to a man named Paul who would become the great apostle and write most of the New Testament. I hope you can join me each day.
In today's text we discover the resurrected Lord giving the disciples the command to stay in Jerusalem. The Book of Acts picks up where Luke's gospel leaves off. Jesus the tells them that "in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit." (Acts 1:5b) Now, one would have thought that by this time the disciples would have figured everything out, and there would have been know doubt in their minds regarding the messiah. But, we are talking about the same ragtag bunch that has been with him the whole entire time So, they ask: "Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?" (Acts 1:6) Yep, they still believe that he has come to set up his kingdom on earth. Then Jesus makes one of the most important statements in all of Acts. In fact, I would encourage you to remember this statement for the rest of this particular study. Jesus said: "It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. 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." (Acts 1:7a-8) This was the last statement Jesus made before being taken up to heaven.
What did Jesus mean by "you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you?" Well, so often people talk about the "power of the Holy Spirit." We like that word, "power." But, what did Jesus mean? I believe that Jesus simply meant that we would be given the power to witness. Keep in mind also, that Jesus told them that they would be his witnesses first of all in Jerusalem. After Jesus ascended up to heaven the disciples would then return to Jerusalem. In the Book of Acts, Jerusalem is the central point of all that happens. From Jerusalem the gospel will be taken to all the world. Again, keep this verse in mind. It will help us understand more of the story later.
The disciples then do as instructed by going to Jerusalem to wait upon the promise of the Father. We are told they went into an upper room where the eleven disciples (we will get to this number in a moment) were joined by over a hundred more people. (Acts 1:15) Among this gathering we are told that there were women, including Mary the mother of Jesus. While in the upper room they all prayed constantly. Before long Peter stood up to talk. *Imagine that! LOL! Peter always had something to say. Well, Peter addresses the fact that there only eleven of the original disciples. This is an issue. Peter mentions Judas and his demise. Peter does state that Judas "was one of our number and shared in this ministry." (Acts 1:17) We do know that Jesus, in his prayer (John 17) mentioned that what happened to Judas was pre-ordained. Peter does acknowledge what the scripture said about the betrayal, but he still believed that Judas was one of them, even in mission.
There had to be twelve disciples. Why? Well, the number twelve symbolizes divine government and structure. Remember, there were twelve tribes if Israel. The disciples cast lots to determine which of two nominees would be the twelfth disciples. Of course they do this after prayer. (Acts 1:24) Prayer before anything is a theme throughout Luke's writings. Jesus, in Luke prays before any decision, now the disciples do likewise. The winner (LOL) was Matthias.
the stage is now set for the birth of the church. Tune in Monday for our look at the Day of Pentecost. Have a great weekend. Sunday is Father's Day. Happy Father's Day to all the Fathers. My father passed away eighteen years ago. My heart goes out to those whose fathers are no longer with them. God bless! Pastor Rick