Summary: In this message we take a look at the early church in Jerusalem and how God radically changed the people and how they in turn radically changed the world.
Power to Change the World
A group of travelers were being made to wait on their airplane which was late due to another flight being cancelled. The crowd had become very impatient as the time went on. Finally a very angry man who really overestimated his importance pushed his way to the front of the line, slammed his ticket down and said, “I must be on this flight now and I must be in first class.” The flight attendant, trying to be kind, said Sir we will get to you as soon as possible but you will have to wait in line like everyone else. He very quickly said Ma’am do you have any idea who I am? Without missing a beat, the flight attendant picked up the intercom and said “we have a passenger here at the gate WHO DOES NOT KNOW WHO HE IS. If anyone knows him please come to gate 17.
Waiting. It seems that sometimes all we do in life is wait. We wait in line at the grocery store, we wait in traffic, we wait for commercials to be over, we wait for our children to get serious about life, we wait for things to change. Sometimes waiting isn’t such a bad thing. Often in fact, it is a gift from God. One of the things we know for sure is that waiting is a part of life. It is essential for us to grow as believers.
This morning in this passage the disciples are told to wait. To wait for the gift that Jesus promised, to wait for His return. In this chapter Jesus is saying goodbye to His disciples. For over 3 years they have spent every waking minute together traveling, sharing, learning and their lives were completely changed; they were altered in such a powerful way that they would never be the same again.
There is a reason why we are often told to wait. Clearly it is because we are not ready.
Now I cannot read this passage of scripture without asking the question... what is it that made such a difference in the early disciples. What did they possess that we do not? Where does this power to cause such radical growth in the church come from? Well here it is...It is the power of a changed life.
You see a dramatic transition was about to take place in the NT church. The leader Jesus Christ was about to leave. The disciples were confused. Jesus was going now to be with the Father and in a very real sense they felt helpless. But Jesus gives them a powerful statement in the gospel of John as He says, “I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.
Just before returning to Heaven Jesus gave his disciples what we now call the Great Commission. He said in Matthew 28.... These words that He spoke directly to the disciples are just as much directed to you and me today. His followers in the book of Acts took this command to heart and as a result the church in Jerusalem grew from just 120 people to well over 20,000 people and it happened all in just a few short years.
This is exactly what I believe Jesus meant when he said that the disciples would do greater things than He did. The church was now growing faster. More and more people being saved. It is exactly what Jesus said would happen. But it is still amazing. The one who healed the blind, caused the deaf to hear, fed the thousands with a few fish and a small amount of bread, raised the dead to life, now makes this amazing statement that you and I will do even greater things. And what makes this even more incredible He tells us that not only will we do greater things, we will do them because of the fact that He is leaving! It is one of the most difficult truths taught in all of the scripture and here it is... If we allow Jesus to change us you and I can change the world!
There are 3 truths I want you to see in this passage that support this point.
1. Jesus is risen from the grave. Luke says, after His death He showed Himself to them and proved in many ways that He was alive. V. 3-4. Paul gives us some details about who Jesus appeared to...He was seen by Peter and then by the 12 apostles. After that Jesus was seen by more than 500 of the believers at the same time. He says many of them are still living today.... Then He says that he was seen by James and later by all the apostles. Then Paul says and last of all he was seen by me. Now if you don’t know the requirements to be an apostle in that day one of them was that you must have been a witness to the resurrection. You must have seen the living Lord in person. Obviously this was life changing for them. They were living witnesses to the greatest news ever. If you were there what would you have done? Think back about the last time to received some really exciting news what did you do? You probably called everyone you knew, you sent an email to the whole mailing list, text messages to all. Some of these friends you were so close to you went to see them in person because you wanted to see the expression on their faces when you told them.