-> Pastor Damian Mericka / 19 APR 2020
Series: Acts: Kingdom Vision 20/20
Conversation Starter: Change can be hard. This time of Quarantine brought upon us all a sudden change that touched every part of our lives. We are finding ourselves unable to do the things that made up our daily lives. We view change from a safe distance when things are stable. We have time to anticipate, plan and prepare for it. But when it is sudden; we are quickly overwhelmed and scared. We are not in control. While this leads many to despair, for those in Christ it is a reminder that God has a plan that is continually unfolding. God has a Kingdom that is coming, and this must always be our focus and priority. The Bible gives us so much more than we utilize. Like us now, the Disciples after Jesus’ Resurrection found themselves amidst great change. Transition was upon them and it continues with every generation onward as the saga of Acts begins…
Let’s Dig In! “Hello and Goodbye”
Turn to Acts 1:1-2. The Author of Acts is also the writer of the Gospel bearing his name- Luke. Luke was not one of the original Twelve Disciples, nor was he Jewish. He was a Gentile who became a follower of Jesus. Luke was a doctor (Colossians 4:14) and a companion in ministry to Paul the Apostle (2 Timothy 4:11). Having accompanied Paul on his Missionary Journeys Luke was a first-hand recipient both of Paul’s teaching and witness to Christianity’s early growth. He writes to someone named Theophilus whose name means, “One who loves God” along with a Gentile audience in mind.
He wrote to outline Jesus’ life and ministry flowing into what was becoming the Christian Movement.
He also writes to prepare those following Jesus for the road ahead of them. Where Jesus was the lead in the Gospel, the Holy Spirit now directs the Movement forward in Acts. In verses 1-2 we find Jesus began something that His Spirit is continuing. Like a Divine Baton being handed off, Jesus is speaking to them through the Spirit which will come in a greater presence once Jesus Ascends.
This is like a substitute being introduced by the teacher; they are present with limited authority until the teacher is gone. Then the substitute becomes the primary teacher.
This isn’t a shock or surprise to the Disciples; they just didn’t fully understand what Jesus meant. I think if we are honest, we would not have either, right? I mean, Jesus dying and coming back to life? A ‘spirit’ of God taking over for Jesus? Even amidst all they heard and witnessed while doing life with Jesus, their faith was still to be stretched.
Check out John 14:23-29. What did not make sense then is now becoming understood (v.29).
Time to Go Deeper! “40 Day Intensive with Jesus”
Continuing in Acts 1:3, Jesus would spend 40 days with His then Disciples (followers), now Apostles (Sent Messengers). Echoing the years of Israel’s wandering and Christ’s Temptation in the Wilderness, this would be a time of preparation. Luke notes He did the following:
Presented many Proofs
- Luke 24:1-43. The Resurrection was a very real, physical event that took place in history. This is foundational to the Christian Movement.
- 1-12 notes that Mary Magdalene, Joanna and Mary the mother of James (and other women) went back to the tomb to care for Jesus’ body. They expected to find Jesus dead. Then, after the conversation with the angelic beings remembered what Jesus had said.
- 13-35 notes that two men traveling on the Road to Emmaus encountered Jesus perplexed. It wasn’t until Jesus both taught and prayed that their eyes were opened to recognize Jesus.
- 36-43 find Jesus before His remaining Disciples validating His physical body; as physical as yours and mine. Jesus ate among them. Jesus then explained to them from the Scriptures everything about Himself; then He (through the Spirit) opened their minds to understand the Scriptures. (Note: John 20:19-23)
Spoke about the Kingdom of God
Luke 24:44-49. Jesus showed them how the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms were fulfilled in Jesus.
As the Spirit is awakening them with the understanding (wisdom) of what Christ is saying we see the transition begin to happen in a sense. (Note: Ephesians 1:17-23). Being in God’s Word, the Bible, is the Living Word the Spirit brings to life within us. We read, study and grow with Christ as the end result- He is always the goal as all Scriptural roads lead into Him.
- Matthew 22:34-40. Loving God with all our heart, soul and mind.
- Upon the atonement of Christ springs forth the Gospel- a message of repentance and forgiveness.
- Peter was to experience this in a beautiful illustration of the Gospel (John 21:15-19); it is an ongoing promise for us amidst the challenges following Jesus in this world.
What Now? “The Waiting Game”
After all of this, Acts 1:4-11 Jesus now orders His Apostles to wait for the Promise of the Father which will be a baptism of the Holy Spirit. When? Not many days. <- Great answer!
With all of this Kingdom talk, curiosity leads them to inquire about End Times. Is this the end? Is this the time when you will restore the kingdom to Israel?!
Jesus aligns their focus back to the task at hand. Focus. The Sprit is coming to empower you to go out into the world with my message- the Good News that there is forgiveness with God through the Atonement of Jesus Christ!
Then Jesus ascended and was gone.
Again, two angelic men appear and declare that Jesus is no longer here but is in heaven. He will Return at the appointed time. Don’t you have something you are supposed to be doing? Oh yeah! Waiting.
Let’s wrap up with Acts 1:12-16.
Waiting can be hard. Waiting happens in seasons of change. Change brings transition.
How did the Disciples handle waiting? What did they do?
- They returned to Jerusalem worshipping Jesus with Great Joy! (Luke 24:50-52)
- When they reached Jerusalem
- They blessed God continually in the Temple (Luke 24:53).
- Acquired an Upper Room where men and women (120 total) were devoted in prayer together (Acts 1:13-14).
- They fed on the Scriptures (Acts 1:15-16).
In this time of Quarantine we too are in a season of waiting. Change has come upon us suddenly, and transition is happening on many levels for all of us. Yet, as Jesus realigned the focus of His followers to God’s Kingdom Coming, we too must maintain that focus and trust Him in all He is doing.
- Return to our homes worshipping Jesus with Great Joy.
- Count our Blessings and Bless God continually.
- Be devoted in prayer as intercessors.
- Feed on His Word.
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.