Religion & Spirituality:Christianity
Investigating Jesus - Part 44
1 In my first book I told you, Theophilus, about everything Jesus began to do and teach 2 until the day he was taken up to heaven after giving his chosen apostles further instructions through the Holy Spirit. 3 During the forty days after he suffered and died, he appeared to the apostles from time to time, and he proved to them in many ways that he was actually alive. And he talked to them about the Kingdom of God.
4 Once when he was eating with them, he commanded them, “Do not leave Jerusalem until the Father sends you the gift he promised, as I told you before. 5 John baptized with water, but in just a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”
6 So when the apostles were with Jesus, they kept asking him, “Lord, has the time come for you to free Israel and restore our kingdom?”
7 He replied, “The Father alone has the authority to set those dates and times, and they are not for you to know. 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
9 After saying this, he was taken up into a cloud while they were watching, and they could no longer see him. 10 As they strained to see him rising into heaven, two white-robed men suddenly stood among them. 11 “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why are you standing here staring into heaven? Jesus has been taken from you into heaven, but someday he will return from heaven in the same way you saw him go!” Acts 1:1-11 (New Living Translation)
Jesus’ resurrection was the catalyst for the mission of the early church, beginning with the disciples and throughout history. Indeed, the growth and spread of the church, is evidence of the historical fact of Jesus’ physical resurrection from the dead. Having been raised from the dead, Jesus’ mission to earth is coming to an end. Shortly he will be returning to the right hand of the Father, just as he had told his disciples a few times before he went to the cross.
In the Gospel of Mark 16:14-19, the Gospel of Luke 24:50-51 and in our reading from the book of Acts 1:1-12, we read about Jesus physically ascending into the heavens. Jesus has returned to the right hand of the Father, as he said he would do before his death on the cross. During their last discussion with Jesus, the disciples were still expecting Him to lead a revolution against the Romans (Acts 1:6). Despite all Jesus had said to them, they still did not understand that Jesus had come to lead a spiritual kingdom and not a political kingdom. Now it would be easy to think that Jesus has abandoned them, but no. Jesus tells them to go back to Jerusalem, wait for the Holy Spirit and then go tell others the Good News about Him.
Jesus had told them previously that he was going away and that it was better for them if he did, because the Holy Spirit would be sent to be with them, to live in them and empower them for the work they had to do. Even after Jesus had vanished into the clouds, the disciples still gathered around looking into the sky for Him to return. What were they thinking? Could they not believe what they had just witnessed first-hand? Did they mis-hear what it was that Jesus had said quite clearly/ It was as if they still hadn’t learnt obedience to Jesus’ commands. What happened next?
Well two angels appeared and came to them, saying:
11 “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why are you standing here staring into heaven? Jesus has been taken from you into heaven, but someday he will return from heaven in the same way you saw him go!’” (Acts 1:11)
The disciples then returned to Jerusalem and waited, just as they were told to do. They didn’t have to wait long, 10 days. We, of course, some 2000 years later, are the product of their obedience to Jesus. Praise God! We have one remaining podcast in this series, where we look at Jesus still meeting people to day.
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