Summary: Jesus commissions his disciples to be his witnesses to Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and to the ends of the earth.
Acts 1:1-14 “Sharing the Good News”
The chocolate Easter bunnies have been consumed along with much of the Easter candy. Easter outfits have been cleaned and hung back up in closets. If the Easter decorations haven’t been taken down and stored, then they soon will be. Life is getting back to normal after Easter.
We face the same dilemma that the disciples did. “What do we do after Easter?” We know that the tomb is empty. The angels have announced that Jesus has been raised from the dead. The disciples’ thoughts that Jesus would lead a revolt against the Roman occupiers wasn’t materializing. They weren’t sure if there was a “Plan B” and if there was what it entailed.
During the days following his resurrection, Jesus not only appeared to this disciples several times, but he also spent time teaching them about the kingdom of God and what part the disciples were going to play in further establishing the kingdom of God on Earth. The disciples had much to learn—and so do we.
Luke, who is the author of the Book of Acts, notes that Jesus presented himself to people by many convincing proofs (vs. 3). Several of these appearances are included in the gospels. Jesus appeared to Mary Magdalene in the garden outside the tomb. Jesus appeared on Easter afternoon to two disciples as they walked to the town of Emmaus. He appeared on Easter evening to the disciples in the upper room where they were hiding. A week later Jesus returned to show himself to Thomas and have Thomas touch his hands and side. Before he ascended into heaven, Paul records that Jesus appeared to over five hundred people (1 Corinthians 15:6).
It was important for the disciples to encounter Jesus. They needed to know beyond a shadow of a doubt that Jesus really had been raised from the dead and lived again. The empty tomb was not enough for them to proclaim the good news and be God’s witnesses to the ends of the earth.
We too have heard the good news that the tomb is empty and we have also celebrated that Jesus has been raised from the dead. Something more is needed, though, if our Christian faith is to be vibrant and dynamic in our lives. We need to see Jesus.
We might see Jesus in a multitude of different times and places. We may sense the Jesus as we sit quietly in the presence of God. Jesus may speak to us in the words of Scripture or whisper in our hearts. As Jesus walks with us through life, we may receive courage to face life’s challenges, comfort to deal with loss and grief, hope when all seems hopeless.
Our family, friends, neighbors and co-workers are not very interested in debating theological constructs or wrestling with their doubts about the historicity of the resurrection. They are interested in whether or not our encounter with a living Jesus has made a difference in our lives, though.
THE GIFT OF WAITING
Before Jesus leaves, he instructs the disciples to wait. Have you ever noticed how often God’s people need to wait? I’m not sure why Jesus didn’t send the Holy Spirit upon the disciples immediately. Our concern with time, however, doesn’t appear to be a top priority with Jesus. When the disciples question Jesus about the time of his return, Jesus simply tells them not to worry about it. As the saying goes, “It’s above their pay grade.”
We join the disciples in waiting. Sure, we have already received the gift of the Holy Spirit at the time of our baptism. We still find ourselves waiting on the Lord for answers to our prayers, for open doors and for results from our words of love and deeds of service. As a congregation we have waited upon the Lord to bring us into our own building. We continue, now, to wait upon the Lord to work with the City of Surprise, to sell our land, and to open a door for a store front (or similar facility) where we can worship and minister.
The disciples used their waiting constructively. Luke records that they devoted themselves to prayer. We could learn a lesson from the disciples and the women, because we aren’t good at waiting.
We pass the time by playing games or reading the latest updates on social media. We waste time by staring blankly at a television program we don’t want to watch, but there’s nothing else on TV. We pace back and forth. We argue with God and attempt to convince God that God has to move more quickly. A better use of our time may be to be still and know that God is God. We could also worship singing songs of praise and offering prayers of thanks.