We are continuing with the second part of Acts 1. If you missed yesterday’s post, you can read it here. Acts 1:9 begins with the ascension of Jesus Christ. Without further ado, let’s dive into the text. I pray God’s blessings on us as we attempt to dissect and understanding this portion of Scripture.
I. Jesus’s Ascension, Acts 1:9-11
“After He had said this, He was taken up as they were watching, and a cloud took Him out of their sight.” Acts 1:9
Jesus walked in obedience to the Father until the moment He ascended into heaven. What a perfect example we have in Christ!
Colossians 1:19-20 tells us:
For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.
Well done, Precious Savior!
Jesus reconciled mankind to the Father, by taking the sins of the world into His body into the grave, rising victorious and in splendor, ascending to heaven to prepare a place for His Church where He took His rightful place at the right hand of the Father…with the promise that He will return to take us where He is.
I am also reminded, with absolute joy, of the text of Hebrews 1:3, which states:
The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact expression of His nature, sustaining all things by His powerful word. After making purification for sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.”
II. The Promise Is Affirmed; Jesus Will Return, Acts 1:9-11
No sooner than Jesus is lifted to the clouds, His promise to the disciples is affirmed by two angels.
This breeds hope for those of us who believe and answers one of humanity’s biggest question: “what happens after this life?”
For those who are being saved by the blood shed on the cross, after this life, there is greater life. Everlasting life.
Because we believe Jesus ascended to the heavens in bodily form, we also believe that He will return visible by all in a physical body in the same way He ascended on the Mount of Olives.
The apostle John writes in Revelation 1:7 concerning Christ’s return:
Look! He is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see Him, including those who pierced Him, and all the families of the earth will mourn over Him.”
See, Jesus is coming again is not a scare tactic employed by pastors and overzealous Christians who desire to fill churches. It is parcel to the truth of the gospel. Jesus’s future return to the earth to establish His everlasting kingdom is a part of what we believe when we place our faith in Christ. It’s also a part of the message we are commissioned to take to the nations.
To me, Christ’s return is also a promise that breathes hope into our present circumstances. Life may be uncertain here and we very well may not have it all together. We may be persecuted, tired, misunderstood, mislabeled or troubled…but we are not without hope.
Jesus will return, and through Him we have victory over whatever the present road blocks in witnessing may be. We can get on with the task of making Jesus known to all the nations because we have this everlasting assurance.
For now, we must not dwell in discouragement. Jesus did not leave us alone. We have the Holy Spirit to comfort, guide, lead and mend us when the trials of our circumstances appear too big to bear (I realize I’m skipping ahead a bit here).
III. Prayerful Beginnings of the Early Saints, Acts 1:14
The 11 disciples remained together as Jesus instructed. Amen for doing as the Master commanded!
During their time of waiting, they prayed. Acts 1:14 says:
All these were continually united in prayer, along with the women, including Mary the mother of Jesus and His brothers.”
Friends, the thing to do in seasons of waiting is pray. This, they learned from Jesus in the time that He was with them. He prayed continually and He also instructed them to pray to the Father about all things, particularly about the coming of the Holy Spirit (Luke 11:13).
When the Savior seems far, distant, unreachable, we must pray. When we are waiting for a promise from the Lord, we must pray. When all is well, we must pray then too.
The disciples adopted a posture of prayer. They embraced the teachings of Jesus to pray to the Father continually.
Who was present at this gathering of the early saints?
The 11 disciples, the women that walked closely with Jesus tending to His needs, the brothers of Jesus, and His mother, Mary.
I am so thankful for the mention of the early saints gathered here. Are you not? Ever wondered if there were prominent women involved in Jesus’s ministry or with the early church?
Well, there were. We meet them throughout the gospel narratives and here again they are present, praying and faithfully trusting the promises of God.
Sisters, there is room at the table for us. Discipleship, church building, prayerful living is for both men and women. Our roles can be quite different as we will soon read, but we are called to serve the Lord Jesus Christ with our lives as well.
IV. Choosing a New Apostle to Replace Judas, Acts 1:15-26
Peter addressed those who were gathered explaining the events surrounding the loss of Judas as an apostle. His address provides a vivid description of what happened to the disciple who betrayed Jesus. It also acknowledged that this had to be the case, in order to fulfill the Scriptures.
Jesus fulfilled the prophecies of the Old Testament concerning Him, every one of them!
David, by inspiration of the Holy Spirit, prophesied of the fate of Judas Iscariot for his betrayal of the Son of God (Psalm 69:25, Psalm 109:8). The second verse gave credence to the decision to choose a new apostle to take his position. In addition to the Old Testament prophecies, while Jesus was with the apostles he taught them that those who followed Him would also sit on 12 thrones, judging the 12 tribes of Israel (Matthew 19:28).
In seeking to fulfill the Scriptures, Peter speaking as the voice of the apostles calls on those gathered (about 120) to choose a replacement.
Peter, here, lists the requirements for an apostle as:
A man. While there were men and women gathered, as acknowledged twice already in this chapter, Peter clearly pointed out that an apostle had to be a man. As a reminder, Jesus Himself selected only men to the leadership of the tribes.
Accompanied Jesus and the disciples from John’s baptism to His ascension. The apostles sought to find a replacement who walked with Jesus from the beginning and stayed with Him to the very end.
Able to testify to the resurrection. Being able to testify that Jesus rose from the dead and ascended to heaven was a requirement of the disciples. They had to be able to give an account of the resurrection.
Two among the 120 gathered met the requirements mentioned: Joseph, called Barsabbas and also known as Justus and Matthias.
The number 12 was significant and we know this because both men were not appointed to the post of apostle. Instead, they sought to choose only one.
They prayed, thus clearly acknowledging the need to pray before making this important decision; and they cast lots for the two. The lot fell on Matthias, who became the replacement for Judah (Acts 1:26).
I did a little digging and found out that casting lots was a popular Old Testament strategy used to discern the will of God when a prophet was not available to make it known (Proverbs 16:33). This is the last mention of this process being used in the decision-making of the early church. As we read on, we will see how the process transferred to Spirit-led decisions once the Holy Spirit came.
- How does the certain return of Jesus Christ fuel your walk?
- What informs your decisions? Is it the Spirit of God? Culture? Family values? (This is a subject of prayer for us all. Is it not? Prayer that our decisions would become more and more aligned with the will of God)