Looking Up

And just as it is appointed and destined for all men to die once and after this [comes certain] judgment, so Christ, having been offered once and once for all to bear [as a burden] the sins of many, will appear a second time [when He returns to earth], not to deal with sin, but to bring salvation to those who are eagerly and confidently waiting for Him.  

Hebrews 9:27-28

After Jesus was crucified and then was resurrected, He was alive on earth for forty days.  He spent time talking with His disciples about things concerning the kingdom of God (Acts 1:3).  While being together and eating with them, He commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for what the Father had promised.  He had already told them about what was coming next in John 14:16, 26; 15:26.  He told them that they would be baptized and empowered and united with the Holy Spirit, not long from now. (Acts 1:4-5).  Not unlike us, the disciples were a little confused. They asked Jesus repeatedly, “Lord, are You at this time reestablishing the kingdom and restoring it to Israel?  Jesus’ response to them, It is not for you to know the times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority.  But you will receiver power and ability when the Holy Spirit comes upon you; and you will be My witnesses [to tell people about Me] both in Jerusalem and in all Judea, and Samaria, and even to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:7-8)

Acts 1:9-11 tells us what comes next. Jesus was caught up as the disciples looked on, and a cloud took Him up out of their sight.  Obviously, they were stunned and just stood there, looking intently at the sky where Jesus had been taken up.  Two men dressed in white suddenly were standing there with them and said to them, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky?  This [same] Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will return in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven.”  According to Acts 1:12-26, the disciples and some others who had followed Jesus gathered in Jerusalem and waited.  During that time they prayed, and they were of one mind and one purpose as they continually devoted themselves to prayer. Peter taught them and explained some scriptures,  including passages from Psalms 69 and 109, regarding Judas, who was no longer with them, and the instruction that he should be replaced.  So they sought instruction from God and, praying, they selected Matthias to be added to the remaining eleven disciples.

Acts 2 tells us about the day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit came upon them and the church was launched.  A couple of observations:

  • The disciples did not have to wait very long.  As I read this passage, I cannot see that they knew when the Holy Spirit would come upon them.  Therefore, this was a wait of an uncertain duration, though Jesus did tell them that it would happen soon.
  • They had no control over what happened next.  The Holy Spirit did the work.  Acts 2:4 tells us that they ‘were all filled [that is, diffused throughout their being] with the Holy Spirit’…

This was not a work just for those who had been with Jesus.  If we look back at John 17, we can see that Jesus was praying for us in that passage.  Here’s what He said:  

But now I am coming to You; and I say these things [while I am still] in the world so that they may experience My joy made full and complete and perfect within them [filling their hearts with My delight].  I have given to them Your word [the message You gave Me]; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world and do not belong to the world, just as I am not of the world and do not belong to it.  I do not ask You to take them out of the world, but that You keep them and protect them from the evil one.  They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.  Sanctify them in the truth [set them apart for Your purposes, make them holy]; Your word is truth.  Just as You commissioned and sent Me into the world, I also have commissioned and sent them (believers) into the world.  For their sake I sanctify Myself [to do Your will], so that they also may be sanctified [set apart, dedicated, made holy] in [Your] truth.  I do not pray for these alone [it is not for their sake only that I make this request], but also for [all] those who [will ever] believe and trust in Me through their message. That they may be one; just as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be one in Us, so that the world may believe [without any doubt] that You sent Me.  I have given them the glory and honor which You have given Me, that they may be one, just as We are one; I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected and completed into one, so that the world may know [without any doubt] that You sent Me, and [that You] have loved them, just as You have loved Me.  Father, I desire that they also, whom You have given to Me [as Your gift to Me], may be with Me where I am, so that they may see My glory which You have given Me, because You loved Me before the foundation of the world.  O just and righteous Father, although the world has not known You and has never acknowledged You [and the revelation of Your mercy], yet I have always known You; and these [believers] know without any doubt that You sent Me; and I have made Your name known to them, and will continue to make it known, so that the love with which You have loved Me may be in them [overwhelming their heart], and I [may be] in them.

John 17:13-26

It is important that we, like the disciples, not be confused about what will happen next.  It is important that we eagerly and confidently wait for Him.  What else should we be doing?  Let’s talk and think about that a little later.