The book of Acts was written by Luke, a medical doctor who took an interest in the teachings of Jesus through his mentor, Peter. He’s examined the evidence for Jesus’ life in his earlier letter, the Gospel of Luke, and this time he’s looking at what happened to those who decided to continue folloinwg him. He’s writing to educate a Greek man named Theophilus, as he explains in the first few lines of the letter.
In the first book, O Theophilus, I have dealt with all that Jesus began to do and teach, until the day when he was taken up, after he had given commands through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom he had chosen. He presented himself alive to them after his suffering by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God.
And while staying with them he ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, “you heard from me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”
So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.”
Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a Sabbath day’s journey away. And when they had entered, they went up to the upper room, where they were staying, Peter and John and James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot and Judas the son of James. All these with one accord were devoting themselves to prayer, together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers. (Acts 1:1-14 ESV)
The pioneer is alive, not dead. He is truly a pioneer, not just in innovative teaching, but he’s blazed a new trail through death to life again. He suffered, and they saw that either directly or simply as people in Jerusalem at the time, they would have known what happened. And now they saw “many proofs” as he appeared to them in person, alive, not dead.
The Pioneer story is going to become their story, via the Holy Spirit. They will receive power from the Holy Spirit. They can follow Christ through death, and into life. They have a job to do before that happens – and they’re called to bravely and confidently do it together. Their mission is to bring the message of Jesus and his kingdom to everyone, in stages. They were to start in Jerusalem, those who would be quite like them. Then Judea, Samaria would mean reaching those close, with a few shared beliefs, but different enough to be a challenge. Then, they were to reach the ends of the earth – the entire world. Jesus has handed the baton to them, knowing he taught them what they needed, and would be with them through his spirit.
This pioneer story has a great ending, but not yet. When Jesus returns to this earth, and ushers in his kingdom, the world as God originally created it – the kingdom of God. It’s clear from their question that the disciples expected this to come with the Holy Spirit, but Jesus makes clear they have a job to do with the Spirit, while they wait for Jesus’ second coming. When he does come, some will still be alive, but those who’ve died in Christ are raised like Jesus was to enjoy this kingdom. This kingdom of God was his message when he first started preaching publicly, it remained his message through life, and now we know it was his message in resurrection life too.
See how the story of Jesus, his life, death and resurrection, are at the center of everything.
Question: How do you already see the DNA of Jesus in this community of disciples?
Meeting with a Group? Your discussion questions are in this week’s Group Study Guide[permalink append=”#comments”]Discuss the Challenge[/permalink]