Summary: Expanding our understanding of the Kingdom, Embracing our call to be a Witness, and, Encountering the power of the Spirit.
Before we come to our reading, a brief word of introduction.
1. It’s always good to bear in mind that the book of Acts is a sequel – it’s part 2. Luke first wrote the Gospel that bears his name.
2. In Acts 1:1, Luke says in his Gospel he wrote about what Jesus began to do and teach. The implication is that in the book of Acts Luke’s going to tell us about all that Jesus continues to do and teach through the followers of Jesus, the Church.
3. Acts begins in the 40 day period after Jesus’ resurrection from the dead. Jesus is busy making sure the disciples understand just how alive he is! And he wants them to know he has a crucial job for them to do. Let’s read the passage together...
Reading: Acts 1:1-11
Have you ever watched a relay race?
Now, it seems to me that the moment you hand over the baton is the vital moment.
Fumble around and you lose time.
Drop it and you’re in trouble.
Don’t pass it on and game over!
But with a good handover you’re on track to win.
In a sense, that’s what we have here in Acts chapter 1.
Jesus has run his race.
His race included being born as one of us;
Living a life of perfect obedience to the Father;
Proclaiming by word and deed the Kingdom of God;
Suffering a vicarious death for the sins of the world;
And rising from the dead.
It was now time to pass on the baton.
To pass it on before he returns to heaven.
It’s a crucial time.
If the Disciples drop the baton that’s it.
Before he goes, Jesus has lots of instructions to hand on. He wants them to Expand, Embrace and Encounter:
1. Expand your understanding of the Kingdom
v3, “He appeared to them for forty days and spoke about the Kingdom of God...” And the disciples ask Jesus this question: v6, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the Kingdom to Israel?”
Jesus had always spoken a lot about the Kingdom.
“The Kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news”.
He told lots of parables to explain the Kingdom...
The Kingdom is like a precious pearl.
You sell everything you have so you can buy it!
The Kingdom is like a small seed that grows into something huge.
He even taught us to pray, “Your Kingdom come”
And the apostle Paul taught a lot of the Kingdom.
Acts 28 tells us Paul spent 2 whole years in Rome teaching about the Kingdom of God.
We need to learn more about the Kingdom of God.
Many people get confused about it.
The disciples were confused because they thought the Kingdom was a political thing.
You can’t blame them.
Jesus had gathered 12 disciples around him.
Everyone had understood the symbolism of that.
12 Tribes of Israel – 12 Disciples...
It seemed He was making a new Israel.
A new day was dawning.
He was the Messiah.
He would soon rule from Jerusalem as King.
They quite liked the idea of all that.
It’d mean a good bit of status for them.
They’d surely get good positions in the new administration.
James and John had asked for that a long time ago: Lord can we sit on your right and on your left?
And now Jesus has risen from the dead... so the long awaited restoration of Israel must be imminent.
After all, didn’t the Psalms and Prophets say:
“He will rule from sea to sea... and all nations will serve him” (Psalm 72:8,11)
They were confused.
And many Christians today get confused.
They think the Kingdom of heaven is where you go when you die.
But Jesus taught us to pray, “Your Kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven”.
In other words, the Kingdom was not just for heaven, but also for earth.
You see, God is not only interested in getting people into heaven when they die.
God is passionate that heaven comes to earth.
God wants his people to live heaven’s values on earth.
No lies and immorality in heaven – so they stand up for truth and purity.
No hunger in heaven – so they feed the hungry.
No oppression in heaven – so they fight for justice.
So, Jesus isn’t talking about the Kingdom of Israel, he’s talking about the Kingdom of God.
God hasn’t given up on Israel – just read Rm. chapters 9-11. Israel will be restored one day.
But God’s plans are much, much bigger than the restoration of Israel...
Jesus wants the disciples to expand their understanding of the Kingdom.
What about us here at HBC?
How is our understanding of the Kingdom?