Summary: Too often, we have a tendency to stare up into the clouds waiting for Jesus to doing something amazing when the whole time He wants to be doing amazing things through us.
Over the last few months we have learned a lot from Nehemiah and the Israelites as they rebuilt the Jerusalem wall and reestablished the city. Tonight, we are going to turn away from Nehemiah and begin looking at a new book of the Bible. That book is Acts which is the fifth book of the New Testament and tells the story of how the church began and how the news of Jesus Christ spread throughout the world.
Let’s open our Bibles to Acts 1:1-5 as we lay a little foundation to the book and what we will be studying over the next few months.
***Have a youth read Acts 1:1-5***
These first five verses, as well as the next six, which we will look at in a moment, bridge the gap between the Gospel and the life of Jesus and the church and ministry of the disciples. More specifically, this is the second book written by Luke who wrote the gospel of Luke. This is what verses 1-2 refer to when it talks about the first book which told about all that Jesus did and taught until he was taken up to heaven.
Verses 3-5 are very important to everything that we will explore in the book of Acts. Those of you who read the Bible readings for the week know that after Jesus was killed on the cross, he was raised from the dead and spent time with the disciples for forty days. Verse 3 bluntly proclaims that “he proved to them in many ways that he was actually alive.” In other words, he wasn’t a ghost or a spirit; he was a living, breathing, eating, human being.
On numerous accounts when Jesus was with the disciples, he promised them that they would receive the Holy Spirit. Luke reminds us of that promise in verses 4-5. What this meant is that God would be with and within them always, wherever they went through the Holy Spirit. In other words, the disciples would not be alone in starting the church but God would be with them fully.
Throughout the book of Acts, the disciples, who will be called apostles throughout the book, will display amazing courage, power, and boldness. This is a major difference from how we saw them when Jesus was on the cross. Many of them scattered and went home not knowing what to do. Peter claimed he never knew Jesus. They were discouraged and felt beaten because their teacher was dead. But now, because Jesus had conquered death and proved to them He was alive and because they had the promise that God would be with them through the Holy Spirit, they were willing to fight to the death and accomplish amazing things.
These two things will also make a major difference in our lives as well. As we spend time with Jesus, through His Word, prayer, at church, worshiping, and serving, we too will have proof that Jesus is alive and real. Also, when we remember that God is always with us through the Holy Spirit and can empower us and teach us then we too can have the same courage and boldness that we will see in the apostles throughout Acts. The most important thing with this though, is what we do with the knowledge and power that we have. That is what the disciples learned about in verses 6-11. Let’s read those verses together.
***Have a different youth read Acts 1:6-11***
So we start off with a question from the apostles to Jesus just before he ascends to heaven. “Lord, has the time come for you to free Israel and restore our kingdom?” I think the disciples would have asked this question with excitement and expectation in their voices. In essence they were asking Jesus the good ol’ famous question, “Are we there yet?” See what the disciples were asking about was an earthly kingdom of power that they expected Jesus to set up. They must have assumed, since Jesus had raised from the dead he would make an appearance to show His power to all and take over Rome and the rest of the world as He ruled as supreme king. “It’s time, right? We have arrived, right?” they asked.
In a lot of ways, it is nice to know that even though they saw Jesus face to face after he was raised from the dead, they still didn’t get it. Jesus never came to earth to establish an earthly kingdom of power but instead a spiritual kingdom that would be made of up of those who had a relationship with Him.
In verse 7, Jesus responds by basically telling them, you don’t need to know when that will happen. “The Father alone has the authority to set those dates and times, and they are not for you to know.” Notice though that Jesus doesn’t tell them, “no it isn’t time.” He just says to the disciples, “don’t worry about trying to figure everything out and understand everything.”