In my former book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach 2 until the day he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles he had chosen. 3 After his suffering, he presented himself to them and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God. 4 On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. 5 For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”
6 Then they gathered around him and asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?”
7 He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
9 After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight.
10 They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. 11 “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.”
The New International Version. (2011). (Ac 1:1–11). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
Now what? Seriously now what? What was that? how do you even process what you just saw? *Look up* Think of being a disciple. Think of being on the Mount of Olives having conversation with Jesus the one who was crucified died and was buried and on the third day rose from the dead. Just 40 days ago. Since Easter. That might seem like an eternity ago or it might seem like it was 2 weeks ago. But really 40 days is not that much time. And over that last 40 days the son of God and risen Lord just appeared to you time and time again to give you comfort and proof that he really is alive. And then all of a sudden while you are talking to him there he goes. If you were an apostle throughout the last three years you would have seen Jesus, walk on water, appear with you in the upper room, you would have known that he has the power to disguise himself as he did with the two disciples that were walking from Jerusalem to Emaus, you might have heard the accounts of the people in his church wanting to throw him off a cliff early in his ministry but Jesus just walked through the crowds without anyone touching him. But Jesus did not fly. Not that you know of. You walked with Jesus from town to town. He walked up the mountain sides to pray. He walked with you up to the temple. He walked around the lake or
took a boat, but now, as he was speaking with you he is taken up into heaven and is hidden by a cloud. How do you wrap your head around that? You just keep looking up into the sky thinking.
Now what? It’s the end of that era. The end of watching Jesus perform miracles. The end of him being the one to lead the disciples into the temple to preach. The end, with the exception of the Apostle Paul, of Jesus in the flesh being to one to convince people that he is the son of God. But as it is, the end of one thing leads to the beginning of something else.
The end of Jesus’ time on earth, starts the beginning of the time we live in now. You can call it the end times. The New Testament era. A.D Ano Domini the year of our Lord, It is shown with the beginning of the book of Acts. Our lesson for today, Acts 1:1-11 the beginning of the New Testament church starts off with Jesus ascending into heaven, and then telling his disciples to do something difficult. Wait. They are right outside of Jerusalem and he told them, don’t leave this place. Wait. I have a plan for you while you are here.
Waiting is not easy. We hate waiting. Waiting for churches to open back up. Waiting for the person in front of you at the grocery store to get a price check and then try and use expired coupons can be maddening, even if that only takes 2 minutes of waiting. Why is that? Two minutes in a grocery store line, Lord knows that we waste two minutes other times in our day. 6 seconds at a stop light. Are you kidding? Go! We want to do things now. We want things done now. We want all of the answers now. We don’t want to wonder.
I think a big part of it is, we don’t want our time, or our accomplishments to be stalled by things that are out of our control. It might have seemed like an easy thing to tell those disciples to do, go to Jerusalem, don’t leave, wait.
But that would have a pretty big ask. They had spent time in the last 40 days, Not the whole time but some of that time for sure, locked in an upper room for fear that leaders of the Jews in that city were going to persecute them. And Jesus was asking them to go back there and wait, for an undetermined amount of time a few days, it ended up being 10 days. Which we might be able to relate to at the moment. They were asked to
wait, not because God was punishing them, as if he were telling them to GO TO YOUR ROOM AND WAIT FOR ME TO COME UP THERE. No go wait because I have a plan and I am going to give you something.
Next week we are going to talk about Pentecost. We are going to talk about that day when the Holy Spirit was poured out on those disciples and how they were able to speak in tongues to people of many different countries and languages, but today we are talking about Jesus’ ascension. He tells them to go and wait for the promise of the baptism by the Holy Spirit, and how to do the disciples respond.
Lord are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel? Think about that. Jesus told them that God the Father had promised through his Son Jesus Christ that he was going to send them the Holy Spirit. All three persons of the trinity mentioned together to send them a gift. The one and only God of the universe, three persons but one God has been talking about giving you this gift and you, apostles who God has chosen to be spiritual leaders of the church, bring up national politics. I mean no matter how important that is to you it is nothing compared with what God gives you.
Something eternal vs. something temporal. Something all powerful compared with something that has limited power. It would be like coming home and telling your family we don’t have to worry about money anymore, we have received an inheritance, our house has been paid for, our cars have been paid for, our education and the education of our children has been paid for for years and years and years, from now on Money is no object to us, we can help whoever we want, and they respond by saying, Cool! hey can you go reset the router, I think the wifi is out.
They just missed what he was saying. Completely focused on the wrong thing. Lost in their world of doubt and fear, rather than following Jesus to look up to heaven for comfort and peace and help, rather than down to the earth where there is just going to be more trouble. Yes if we have temporary problems we should try to solve them. If the wifi is out unplug the router count to thirty and plug it back in. Vote for those who you want to be in authority. Make the world a better place through your actions. Care about the world that God has given to you and work to make this world better for
the generations to come. But don’t forget that these are just earthly problems. They are going to keep coming back. They are going to have be solved in the next generation. Over and over again.
Look at what you have! No one is going to have to pay for your sins again. No one is going to have to come down from heaven to live another perfect life for you to pay for your sins because Jesus did that. That is one problem that you will never have to worry about. No one is going to have to give you faith again. Because God has given you the gift of faith from the Holy Spirit. For as many things as we are waiting for God to solve take one giant step back and say, Ok look at what I do have going for me, I have everlasting life ,so that’s nice.
From this account in acts, this is the last question that they got to ask Jesus. The last thing that they said to Jesus face to face in the flesh was not, Thank you my Lord for forgiving my sins. It wasn’t worship. It wasn’t praise. It was this dense comment, hey could you do us one more thing. Give our country worldly power, those Romans are bad news.
We shouldn’t rag on the disciples too much. We do this same thing. What Jesus did for them is the same thing that he has done for us. We know the promises of God. We know what Jesus’ life and death means for us, the forgiveness of our sins and everlasting life. We know God is watching out for us in our lives. We know all of these promises that our God makes to us, and yet we say.... hey God, when are you going to do that one other thing.
It might not be power to rule a region of the middle east. But it might be power over an illness. It might be power over a work situation. It might be power in a relationship. There are so many times that we fail to appreciate what we really do have from our God, and expect something more.
Jesus, when he heard this from his disciples, he doesn’t even really rebuke them, instead he just reminds them of the power that he is going to give them soon.
I am going to give you the power of the Holy spirit. And when that happens, you are going to be my witnesses to the ends of the earth. The message that those disciples were going to carry was far greater than the cure to any earthly disease, or the power of some uprising, or end of corruption, it was the power to give eternal life. Through his word.
So just wait. I know its hard. But just wait. We will worship together soon. We will be in heaven one day forever. But while we wait, rest assured that the God of all peace will strengthen you to keep you faithful to the end. You are a forgiven child of God with faith from the Holy Spirit. just wait. I know its hard. I know it would be easier if you were sitting on top of a mountain with Jesus and having him teach you. But he has given you what you need now. And he has plenty more to give you, just wait. Amen.