The author of Acts, believed to be Luke due to the similarities of Acts to the Gospel of Luke, begins the book with Jesus Christ, a resurrected Jesus Christ who appeared to the disciples over the course of 40 days.
Jesus’s post resurrection appearances answered many questions and set Christianity apart.
I. Jesus appeared to many over 40 days, Acts 1:3
Jesus appeared to them over and over. It was not a figment of a mourning disciple’s imagination. Jesus was in fact alive, as promised in the Scriptures and many saw Him.
Why is this grounding to our faith?
It is simple! A dead Jesus is not the promised Savior. A dead Jesus does not defeat death. A dead Jesus offers no hope of life everlasting. A dead Jesus does not set Christianity apart from other religions and philosophies.
A risen Jesus is the message of the Bible. A risen Jesus offers hope of life everlasting. A risen Jesus makes our hope real, our lives purposeful and our mission into the world worth everything.
A risen Jesus means we too will have victory over sin and death, experience communion with our Heavenly Father and live eternally.
Reading the first verses in Acts brings joy to my heart and tremendous peace, knowing that IT IS FINISHED. Victory has been accomplished through Christ. God kept His promise to redeem mankind from the plight of sin and the curse of death.
He is risen…and He appeared…to many…and made many convincing proofs…to the glory of the Father!
II. The Promise of the Holy Spirit, Acts 1:4
In Acts 1:4, we read Jesus’s command to the disciples to stay in Jerusalem and await the gift of the Holy Spirit. Naturally after having walked with Jesus and being taught by Him that He would establish an everlasting kingdom, their response is one of hope and anticipation of a here-and-now, earthly kingdom. We know this based on what they ask in Acts 1:6.
The telling question: “Lord, are you restoring the kingdom to Israel at this time?”
This is telling for two reasons:
- With everything they had experienced and learned from Jesus during His time on earth with them, they still lacked understanding. They continued to hope that Jesus will triumphantly restore the earthly kingdom to Israel. Their eyes could no see the fullness of the grace that God was extending to all people who believe in His Son, Jesus Christ: Jews and Gentiles.
- The Holy Spirit is the difference maker. The Spirit of God helps us understand the things of God. It was not until they received the Holy Spirit that they would begin to understand that the plan of Christ was/is to establish an everlasting kingdom for whosoever believes in Him, not only the Jews.
Jesus’s answer to their question in verse 7 bears relevance for us today. In our witnessing, we are sometimes faced with questions of when Jesus will return and why is His kingdom “delayed”? And we may be tempted to comb through Revelations to come to an understanding of every sign that we believe ourselves to observe, as we await our Savior’s return.
I hear Jesus’s words as a caution to be mindful of what we ask or desire to know. The timing of the Lord’s return or the establishment of His Kingdom is not the object of our concern. Our place in the narrative is to be witnesses to the things we have learned through the Holy Scriptures…and to trust that Jesus will return at the appointed time that the Father has set.
III. The Missionary Plan for Christ’s Witnesses, Acts 1:8
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come on you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” Acts 1:8
Christ lays out the missionary plan for the disciples, and here it is:
Stay put and stay together — Acts 1:4
Alone and without the Spirit of God, there is no power to our witnessing.
The Holy Spirit is coming — Acts 1:8
The disciples could rely on the promise of the Holy Spirit. Staying put was not an indefinite verdict. In a matter of days, they would receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit empowers us — Acts 1:8
The Holy Spirit empowers the believer to understand things that he would not be able to understand otherwise. The Holy Spirit disentangles the message of Christ for us.
We will all be witnesses — Acts 1:8
No Christian receives a dormant Spirit that is not preoccupied with the salvation of lost sinners. It is not the nature of the gospel. Christ sent all of the apostles out to reach others and spread the news of the gospel. This is our call as well; to go and reach others with the Good News about Jesus Christ, the Son of God becoming flesh to save us from our sins. We don’t all have the same personality, nor will all witness in the same manner, but all of us who profess to know Christ are called to witness.
Who are we witnesses to? — Acts 1:8
Those who are near and far; those who look like us or are completely different from us; those who share our traditions, as well as those who do not hold the same cultural values. All of them! To the disciples, Jesus said:
You will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth… Acts 1:8b
IV. Salvation is from God, through Christ and available for all, Acts 1:8
God be praised! The doors to the Kingdom of God are wide open to all, no matter their heritage, no matter their lineage and no matter the region of the world in which they live.
This is great news! The hope of redemption that was promised to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob is now the same hope that is extended to all.
Going in the Name of Christ requires humility and a value for all human souls that only the love of Christ and the Spirit of God can help us attain.
The blood of Jesus was shed for all, those who look like us and speak our language, and those who do not. It is for the intellectual next door and the child in a third-world country with whom we have nothing in common. It is for those who share our traditions and those our culture despises. It is for the oppressor and for the refugee alike.
Christ commands us to go and tell the world about Him, because He came and while we were still sinners, He chose us and did for us what we could never do for ourselves.
And, He picked us to be His witnesses. It is a life changing, often difficult and worthy cause. It is laying down our lives and our comforts to bring the Good News of the gospel to a lost world, at home or to the ends of the earth.
- What’s the big thing that God is calling YOU to do for His Name’s sake?
- How does the text challenge you in your witnessing for Christ?