Summary: First sermon in a series on the Book of Acts emphasizing the work of Jesus the living Lord who Acts 1 teaches is LIVING, GIVING (the Holy Spirit) and RETURNING.
Jesus’s Last Days on the Earth
TEXT: Acts 1:1-2 – “The former treatise have I made Luke is referring to the Gospel of Luke], O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach, 2 Until the day in which he was taken up, after that he through the Holy Ghost had given commandments unto the apostles whom he had chosen.”
In the Book of Revelation Jesus is called “the Alpha and the Omega”—“the Beginning and the End.” Jesus is the beginning and the end of the book of Acts as well. The very first verse in the book of Acts begins with Jesus – Acts 1:1 – “The former treatise have I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach.” And the very last verse in Acts ends with Jesus – The last verse in Acts says that Paul was… “Preaching the kingdom of God, and teaching those things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ…” (Acts 28:31)
So, though the book of Acts is really a book about the works of the Holy Spirit in the lives of the leaders of the early church, it’s fitting that the very first chapter should tell us about the last activities of Jesus while He was still physically on this earth. And, as always, Jesus is busy. In verses 1-11 there are three things about Jesus’ last activities that have tremendous implications for the entire history of the church that would follow—and consequently for you and me today.
Let’s look at them.
I. FIRST, WE LEARN THAT JESUS IS LIVING – Acts 1:3-4: “To whom [speaking of the apostles mentioned in verse 2] also he shewed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God: 4 And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me.”
Praise God, this book begins—not with a dead prophet, but a risen Redeemer!...Not with a deceased priest, but an alive Savior! Not a lifeless teacher, but a living Lord! And this fact is what explains everything else we will read about in the book of Acts.
Praise God for the resurrection of Jesus Christ! The fact that we see Jesus alive in this passage has enormous ramifications for the rest of this book and, in fact, the entire history of Christianity and the world! Let me share just two of those ramifications, while you write them down in your notes on the back of your bulletin:
1. First of all, when Jesus rose from the dead He proved beyond any shadow of a doubt that He was who He said He was.
Repeatedly Jesus made the claim that He was the Son of God—that He was, in fact, God Himself come in the flesh. In John 10:30 He said “I and my Father are one.” Furthermore, not only did Jesus claim to be God, He also declared that He is the only way to heaven. He said in John 14:6: “…I am THE way, THE truth, and THE life: NO MAN cometh unto the Father, but by me.”
Now, anybody can claim to be from God. Anybody can claim that he IS God. And anybody can claim to be the only way to heaven. But only Jesus Christ PROVED these claims by rising from the dead! Only Jesus has real credibility. Jesus is the only one we can credibly believe because He’s the only one who exercised what no other man or created being can do— He raised HIMSELF from the dead!
Illus. – This reminds me of the three lunatics in an insane asylum: The 1st lunatic said to the 2nd, “Did you know that I’m Napoleon Bonaparte?” Indignantly, the 2nd lunatic replied, “I beg your pardon! It just so happens that I am Napoleon Bonaparte!” The 1st one said, “Oh yeah! Who says you’re Napoleon Bonaparte?” The 2nd responded, “God told me so.” That aroused the 3rd lunatic who said, “I DID NOT!”
Now you know as good as I do that no one would take seriously these three men’s claims about who they are—especially the third one. Why? Because none of them had the proofs to give credibility to their claims. But Jesus DID have credibility for HIS claims—because of the resurrection!
Illus. – A long time ago, I saw an interesting cartoon in a Christian magazine. It was based on a popular 60s and 70s TV show Called What’s My Line? in which a description was given the contestants of a person’s life, and then the contestants had to guess which of four people before them was the real person by asking them questions. Each contestant would try to eliminate who were the three imposters and choose the real person. At the end of the show, the announcer would say, “Would the real Mr. So-and-so please stand up.” Well, the cartoon depicted four of the world’s religious leaders seated in a row—Buddha, Confucius, Mohammed, and Jesus. The caption at the bottom of the picture read: “Will the real leader of the true way to God please…rise from the dead?”