Summary: Following the Instructions of Jesus as they await the dawning of a Christian Pentecost
As we begin this fourth lesson in Acts, we have now moved past Dr. Luke’s introduction and into the beginning of the early church. We have seen the importance of the resurrection in the redemptive history of the church. We have read how Jesus appeared to ver 500 of His followers following His resurrection. We have studied how Jesus, our Messiah, our Redeemer, has conquered death, hell and the grave. And we have looked at the instructions Jesus gave to wait for the power of the Holy Spirit to come. Again we have heard the call of the Great Commission, to be My witness, the very last thought Jesus expressed to His followers, His last instructions before His ascension into heaven. And now we come to this period between the lightening and the thunder, as the birth of the first church prepares to be delivered onto the scene. It is time for Pentecost, but first we have to wait. How many of you like waiting? It is something we are not good at, something we have the human tendency to try and speed up. We have read past the immediate events ahead, there is also the second coming of Christ. This wait is not one performed in a waiting room chair, but performed on the stage of earth, working, active in mind, soul and spirit.
For thirty days, a month, the disciples had the opportunity to walk, talk and fellowship with Jesus following His resurrection. They had communion with the Risen Lord and Savior of the world. Today, we know they had an additional ten days of waiting until the promise of the Holy Spirit was fulfilled on the Day of Pentecost. We have the advantage of recorded history, something they did not because they were making history in their generation. There are lesson for us still to learn from this, lessons for us to practice in our time so we also can set the pages of history for our generation. So lets talk about it tonight.
I. What we can do to be Ready.
Then they returned to Jerusalem from the hill called the Mount of Olives, a Sabbath day’s walk from the city. When they arrived, they went upstairs to the room where they were staying. Those present were Peter, John, James and Andrew; Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew; James son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot, and Judas son of James. They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers. Acts 1:12-14
Who would like to experience the power of Pentecost? If you are serious about walking in power, there are some lessons we can learn from these three verses which will lead into our own personal experience of the power of God. As we look in this direction, let us also look at the background of the early church.
A. Understanding the Background
1. A Sabbath Day’s Journey equals 2,000 cubits.
As the disciples returned to Jerusalem following Christ’s ascension, they left the Mount of Olives and headed for the Upper Room. Under rabbinical law, the maximum distance a Jew could travel on the Sabbath Day was 2,000 cubits. It is important to know your cubits, especially if you were to travel on the Sabbath or build an ark. If you are here and not involved in ark building or Sabbath traveling, the distance of 2,000 cubits is between one half and ¾ of a mile. They came up with this distance from Israel’s encampment in the wilderness. The farthest tent from the Tabernacle was staked 2,000 cubits away according to oral tradition since there is no place in the Old Testament which prescribes this distance. Work was prohibited on the Sabbath, similar to the Blue Laws America had on its books concerning working on Sunday, which have been declared unconstitutional in my lifetime as a violation of separation of church and state. Because no one could work, the farthest anyone would need to travel was to the Tabernacle for worship on the Sabbath, 2,000 cubits. They would stay until worship finished at sundown, the end of the Sabbath. I am glad we are not bound by the 2,000 cubits because many of you travel farther than ¾ of a mile to attend services here at Ballard each Sunday.
2. Who’s attending Prayer Meeting?
They had gathered in the Upper Room, probably the same room where the Last Supper with Jesus was celebrated. Some scholars have identified this room as belonging to John Mark and his mother, but this is more speculation and tradition since the identity is not pinpointed in the Bible. It would not have been far from the Eastern gate as a Sabbath’s day journey from the Mount of Olives would have placed them just inside of the city walls.