April 30, 2023: Jesus Makes a Promise- Acts 1:1-11
At the end of the book of John, Jesus confronts Peter in love, and Peter’s denials of Christ are redeemed as he confesses his love. The encounter shows that we may become fully mature men and women of God. “Feed my Lambs” and “Feed my Sheep.” Individually we have a calling. The book of Acts, written by Luke, answers the question of what happens next after the ascension of Christ. Luke skillfully gives an account of what the resurrected Jesus “began both to do and teach.” This lesson recaps recent events and moves us forward into the next part of God’s salvation plan, working through believers to reach the entire world.
The former treatise have I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach,
Who is Theophilus? There is a lot of speculation as to his identity. The word Theophilus means “God Lover.” Commentators suggest this is a wealthy, high-ranking official, a benefactor to Paul and Luke as they travel, or possibly a lawyer friend looking to defend Paul. Others suggest that Theophilus is a relative of the High Priest desiring to know if the events surrounding Jesus are real or made up. The truth is that the Bible does not say who Theophilus is or what he does. The scripture only says that Luke is giving him a detailed account so that he may believe the events and acts of Jesus are true. It is the same for any honest skeptic or seeker of God reading this book today. Acts picks up where the book of Luke leaves off. The resurrected Jesus opens the disciples’ understanding that they might understand the scriptures pertaining to Him.
He reaffirms their role in this new dispensation of grace and instructs them on what to do next. And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behooved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. And ye are witnesses of these things. And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high. And he led them out as far as to Bethany, and he lifted up his hands, and blessed them. And it came to pass, while he blessed them, he was parted from them, and carried up into heaven. And they worshiped him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy: And were continually in the temple, praising and blessing God. Amen. (Luke 24:46-53)
Until the day in which he was taken up, after that he through the Holy Ghost had given commandments unto the apostles whom he had chosen:
To whom also he shewed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God:
Jesus spent many days openly teaching, eating, and interacting with people after He rose from the dead. Historians note that a man in Jerusalem had been raised from the dead. Dignitaries, Jewish leaders, Roman Authorities, and common men were faced with irrefutable evidence that Jesus had conquered death and the grave. Paul would say, “None of this was done in a corner.” Luke is a man of science, a doctor. According to scholars, He isn’t repeating or recording gossip. He is memorializing eyewitness accounts, including his own. He uses the term “Infallible proofs.” The language and events that Luke records have been scrutinized from every angle. The historical accuracy is beyond credible doubt.
And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me.
Jesus tells them not to leave Jerusalem until they receive the promise of the father. Wait? Yes, wait! The last thing in the world the disciples want to do is wait! Jesus Himself has told them about the promise coming from the Father. Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you. (John 16:7). And to receive a gift from the father! Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom. (Luke 12:32). They must obey and wait, relying on the word of Jesus. He will do exactly what He says He will do. The first board in building the Church- obedience.
For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence.
Baptized with the Holy Ghost? Should ring a bell, right? John answered, saying unto them all, I indeed baptize you with water; but one mightier than I cometh, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire: (Luke 3:16). They have heard about this Comforter. As Jesus prepared them for His death and resurrection, He taught them, And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. (John 14:16-17). The second board in the building of the church - the fulfillment of a promise, the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. A comforter is given to dwell within us, teach us truth, guide our steps, and direct our paths.
When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?
Does the earthly kingdom of God begin now? They were reasonably wondering if this was the time that the prophets predicted. The prophets foretold that the Messiah would sit on the throne of His father David and establish His Kingdom.
And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power.
The answer is that the kingdom is coming, but the time of it is a mystery of God. All believers should understand and look forward to the earthy reign of Christ. We have a job to do until the “kingdom comes,” to the gospel all over the world. For two thousand years, our patient and long-suffering Savior has gathered all of those who will trust in His name into the family of God. It’s obvious that He is “not willing that any should perish.” Another board for the building of the Church. God is in control. We must submit and resign ourselves to His authority. He is sovereign.
But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.
Their power is coming from the Holy Spirit. This is bigger than removing Roman control of Jerusalem. The power of God will involve areas they know and areas they don’t know- the uttermost part of the earth. The mission statement of the church is to spread the Word and bring people to the knowledge of Christ, his sacrifice, and forgiveness of sin. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen. (Matthew 28:19-20)
And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight.
The Shekinah Glory of God appeared as a cloud by day and a fire by night to lead the children of Israel through the desert and through their conquest of the promised land. That same visible presence of God dwelt inside the tabernacle and the temple, and it carried our Savior back to the right hand of the Father. I know I would not have wanted to see Him go, but I know that I am grateful that He makes intercession for me, they are left gazing heavenward, overwhelmed and confused.
And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.
Two men in white apparel. Did we meet them before at the empty tomb? Messengers of God interceding on behalf of men. What they say is the ultimate vision statement for the church. He is gone now, but He is coming back, just like you saw Him leave. It has been said since His departure, and scripture even warns us, that many will find the delay in His return as reason to mock.
Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation. For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water: Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished: But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men. But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, (2 Peter 3:3-11).
Be assured, He is coming back just like He said! It would behoove us to get moving. Our lives are short, and even while we are living, we are distracted by a million meaningless pursuits. A life truly lived and correctly invested is a life wholly invested in loving, sharing, and glorifying Christ. Why are you standing here?