Summary: Christ’s work is finished, but He left us with important work to do, esp. sharing the good news about Him.
Watching, Waiting, & Working
(Don’t Just Stand There!)
Intro: Have you ever seen something really spectacular? Have you ever seen something that just caused your jaw to drop and your eyes to bug out as you stood there and gazed at it? If you’ve ever watched Extreme Makeover Home Edition, you’ve seen some pretty exciting reactions to the incredible work that was done to provide a new home to some needy family. You hear things like, “Oh my goodness! Wow! Oh I can’t believe it. It goes beyond my wildest dreams!”
-Well, I don’t know exactly how the disciples reacted when Jesus ascended to His Father, but I do know that they stood there staring up into the sky- at least for a few moments. I can only imagine the excitement that we will feel when we see Jesus coming back the same way He left. I’m sure there will be laughing, shouting, and weeping with joy and excitement. But as exciting as it will be, there is something else that needs our attention while we are eagerly awaiting His return. That leads us to the main point of this message.
Prop: Christ’s work is finished, but He left us with important work to do.
Interrogative: How do we know this to be true?
TS: We will examine 3 basic insights that show us we have work to do.
I. Christ’s Ascension Signaled the Completion of His Work (1:9)
- "But from now on the Son of man will be seated at the right hand of the power of God." Luke 22:69
-“He [God] raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places” (Eph. 1:20).
-“After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven” (Heb. 1:3).
-These verses show us that Jesus’ work of atonement was finished. He had come to do His Father’s will and had successfully completed everything the Father had asked Him to do. When we finish our work we usually sit down and rest. Well, Jesus had worked the greatest work ever. He had lived a sinless life, even though He was tempted in every way that we are tempted. He helped people by teaching, preaching, healing, caring, touching, warning, and even rebuking. Then, He accomplished what only the perfect Son of God was able to accomplish. He took the sins of the world on Himself when He died on the cross, so that everyone who believes in Him and receives His forgiveness can live in peace and have eternal life!
-So, after His resurrection, He made several appearances to His followers over a period of 40 days. Scholars tell us that day 40 was a Thursday. He met with His disciples and reminded them of the promise of the HS. He also reminded them of their task to take the gospel into all the world, after receiving power from the HS to do so. Then, since His work was completed, He left. It must have been pretty amazing as He defied gravity, and began to rise up into the air. No wonder the disciples were staring after Him, trying to catch one last glimpse of Him. I would have been doing the same.
-While they were straining their necks to see where Jesus had gone, two angels appeared and asked them what they were doing. Now, I don’t know if maybe the disciples expected Jesus to come back down, or if perhaps they were kind of in shock at what they had just seen. Maybe they were even grieving the fact that this was the last time they would see Jesus this side of heaven. Have you ever watched a helium filled balloon go up into the sky until it was so far away you could not see it anymore? They may have been doing that, or just savoring the moment. Nevertheless, the angels brought them back to reality. Christ’s work on earth was done for now. However, they reminded them of a promise Jesus Himself had given them. What promise was that? Well, Jesus had just talked to them about the promise of the HS. However, the promise the angels spoke of was to be in the future, more than just a few days away.
-Let’s look at this promise- the promise of Christ’s return.
II. Christ’s Return Will Signal the Completion of our Work (1:10-11)
-The exciting word from the angels was that “this same Jesus who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven."
-That in itself is reason enough to rejoice and to get excited. However, as history has shown us, the expectation of Christ’s return can create problems if we lose perspective. Zeal for Christ’s return should never hinder the work God has for us to do on this earth. In times past, there have been groups of people who thought they knew when Jesus was coming back. So, they sold all they had and gathered together on top of a mountain, waiting for Jesus to appear. Not so many years ago, the church saw a booklet called “88 Reasons Why the Rapture Will Occur in 1988.” It was rewritten again for 1989. Let me just say that when we try to put dates or even years on when Christ will return, we are out of focus. Jesus said, “It is not for you to know. But it is for you to receive power from the HS and be My witnesses in your own communities and around the world.”