Luke continues his account of the life of Jesus in the opening of the book of Acts. After forty days of appearing to over 500 people and speaking of the kingdom of God, it is time for Jesus to leave His followers in the capable hands of the power that will soon come upon them.
Jesus tells the disciples not to leave Jerusalem; to wait for the promise of the Father, the Holy Spirit. They know they don’t have much more time with Him. The question they ask tell us what is on their mind, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” Despite three years of walking with Jesus, they still think this is what it all about. An earthly kingdom in Israel. They are still thinking inward and small. But Jesus has plans for little Israel to go out into the world.
Jesus tells them, “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 just like that, as they are still looking at Him for more direction, instruction, and last-minute advice, He is lifted up…a cloud taking Him out of sight. Exhale. Now what? I imagine them stuck in a trance staring at the sky or shifting their eyes from one another looking for someone, anyone, to tell them it is all going to be okay.
As they were still looking upward, two men in white robes appear by them. “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.” Boys, why are you still standing here. GO!
The disciples make the short journey to Jerusalem as Jesus instructed. The plan? To wait. Power is coming. Power is promised. Power is needed for the charge at hand. Jerusalem is where the most devout Jews are…the ones who ordered Jesus crucified…the place Jesus encountered the most hostility. And this is where they are told to go and tell what they have seen and heard and learned. And also Judea and Samaria…hated enemies. But the worst enemy of all, the “ends of the earth” at their time – the Roman Empire. They go to the upper room, and they wait. This assignment can only happen with the help of something supernaturally more powerful than themselves.
“Humanly speaking, [Christianity] had nothing going for it. It had no money, no proven leaders, no technological tools for propagating the gospel. And it faced enormous obstacles. It was utterly new. It taught truths that were incredible to the unregenerate world. It was the subject to the most intense hatreds and persecutions.” (Boice)
It doesn’t look promising at this point. Jesus gone and 120 or so of frightened, uneducated, unsure-what-to-do followers wait in an upper room. God’s story is so unlikely it can only be His.
We are the next generation of the 120 in the upper room. If we have believed Jesus to be our Lord and Savior, we are witnesses. We have a story to tell…of what we have seen, and learned, and experienced with Him. We have spheres of influence and reach both near and far away…some friendly, some hostile. But like me, you may feel like the crew in the upper room. A bit paralyzed and scared and unqualified and overwhelmed by it all and not sure where to start.
Keep reading, friends, the power is coming, and it is going to rock the world…(stay tuned)
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