Summary: I preach expository messages, and this is the third in my series on the Book of Acts.
Curtis had for me a great remark this week; I had emailed the leaders and asked them for an opinion on today’s passage, and he emailed me back his, and then had something interesting to say about the disciples, something he’d been reading. He said that a certain author had pointed out that the name “Simon”, or “Peter”, as many of us know, meant “rock”, an allusion Christ made in Matthew 16, and I’ve said before that we might translate Peter as “Rocky”. But Curtis added that the rest of his name was “Bar-Jonah”, as in “Simon Bar-Jonah”, and “bar” meant “son of”, whereas “Jonah” was akin to “John”. This means that if we were naming Peter today, his name would be “Rocky Johnson”. And so last week, we left the disciples, John, James, Andrew, and his brother, Rocky Johnson, as well as the others, standing in conversation with two angels. They had just witnessed Christ rising from their sight into Heaven, and the angels brought them both a promise and a kick in the pants: a promise that Christ would return in the same manner as they’d seen Him go, and a kick in the pants in that they said, “guys, why are you standing around just gazing up?” Today, we take a look at what happened between the ascension of Christ and the coming to fruition of the promise of the Holy Spirit given by Christ on the Day of Pentecost, which we’ll look at next week in Acts 2. Let’s read today’s text together (READ AND PRAY).
(William P. Barker, They Stood Boldly, pp. 19-20)"If the last mighty act of God had been the resurrection and ascension, today there would be no church. If the pattern outlined in the first chapter of Acts had continued, the apostles and others would never have left Jerusalem to witness. They would have formed a religious club, perhaps a "Jesus Memorial Society". Like other such groups, it would probably have had meetings, dues, minutes, and the usual club paraphernalia. In spite of valiant endeavors by loyal adherents to "keep the organization going," the band of believers in the Risen Jesus Christ would eventually have dwindled away and in time the memory of Jesus would have become an interesting footnote in the history books of the Middle East". But another mighty move of God was about to take place. It was time for the disciples to wait, as Christ instructed them. But they didn’t simply wait; there were several things that occupied their time between the ascension and Pentecost. Chief among these things was to pray together and choose a successor to Judas. Judas…the very name is reviled and despised; no one names their children that today, and to call someone a “Judas” is to curse them; it’s a name synonymous with treachery and traitors. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves; first
Some Quick Answers to a Few Questions
There are some interesting questions when we come to this text.
• Where did they gather?
o “A Sabbath-day’s journey” – about ½ to ¾ of a mile
The distance from the Mount of Olives into the city of Jerusalem was “a Sabbath-day’s journey”; interesting how this was arrived at. In the days of the tabernacle in the wilderness, the outward edge of the camp of the Israelites was about a half-three quarters of a mile away from the center of the camp, where the tabernacle stood, and the religious leaders, makers of rules and scrupulous observers of legalities, had determined that it was acceptable, then, to travel only this far and no further on the Sabbath. And they went to the
o “Upper Room”
Second-floor rooms often were large and open, and served as meeting places, as well as places of lodging for those traveling. There is some conjecture as to this particular “upper room”; was it
Same as “Last Supper”?
Perhaps; that’s not an unreasonable guess. It might have been
Owned by Mark’s mother?
Again, there is evidence to suggest this as a possibility, but we don’t know for sure. But we do know that the followers of the ascended Christ gathered there and devoted themselves to prayer.
• What was their state of mind?
Put yourself in their shoes; what do you think you’d have been thinking? Take 3 minutes and discuss this question…
Think back on all the events that the disciples had been through over the past few weeks. What do you think was on their minds?
I cannot, of course, speak definitively, but several things must have been in the mix:
Why had they been gazing into Heaven? For the same reason we all would have: “I can’t believe this!” This, on the heels of the resurrection, another unbelievable, watershed event, and taken together, these simple men must have been in almost a perpetual state of awe and wonder.