Summary: Emphasis on being witnesses of Jesus and the foundational place of prayer and the unity of God's people in that journey.
May 28, 2017
Seventh Sunday of Easter
With One Mind
Swiss Chalet has a new commercial for their Crispy Chicken special. It is funny to watch as one lone customer, taking a bite says, "This is SO good, I have to tell everyone…immediately!” Then we see him scooting down the street in his Chalet booth handing out chicken to everyone!
The image captures the simplicity of our opportunity to hold Jesus out to the people around us. Who doesn’t love a good meal of chicken? Who wouldn't be as excited to get an answer to life’s purpose?
Rick Warren’s Purpose Driven Life: 2002 launch; January 2003 sold 500,000 copies. In March over 1,000,000 copies. 2005 it sold over 20 million copies and as of 2014 was recorded at 32 million sales and climbing. ( https://www.challies.com/articles/the-bestsellers-the-purpose-driven-life)
People want purpose.
Acts 1 – an amazing story with purpose woven through the whole story! It’s a story of God’s faithfulness and power, his love for his people, and the people’s conviction about the story is so strong that they can’t help themselves about talking about Jesus and offering him to the people saying, “You’ve got to try this!”
Prior to Acts 1 the disciples’ adrenaline was off the charts as they watched their Messiah perform impossible feats of healing. They were astounded as Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey, a statement of Kingship about to be established. Heads were going to spin and Jesus’ followers were positioned for greatness and power. Five days of festivities leading up to the Passover celebration turned into a nightmare as their hopes hung butchered on a cross. Some went fishing; others tried to occupy their minds with other things. Everyone kept their doors closed for fear of what might happen next. When people are on a rampage there’s no telling how far they’ll go. One writer referred to the hostility as “a murderous mood”. (New Testament Chronology. Kenneth Frank Doig. Lewiston, NY: Edwin Mellen Press, 1990)
Then, like hitting a brick wall, everything spun around again – stories that Mary saw Jesus – alive! Then Peter and John got involved. Others told stories of Jesus appearing to them, confirming he wasn’t dead! Mostly he appeared to ones and twos, small groups. Then he came to the 11 disciples – they chatted, chuckled and dared to believe again; hope again. In one account he appeared to 500 people at one time!
These 45 days from donkey to hillside ascension, would never be matched in human history again as human emotion swung from highs to lows, from exhilarating hope to depressing despair and optimism again.
This brings us to Acts 1. Jesus’ appearance here would be the last physical manifestation that would happen.
HE FIRST UNVEILS A GIFT that will be critical to the disciples’ success and survival in the days to come – 1:5, 8…
- They weren’t to leave Jerusalem until the HS came on them. (Verses 4 and 8…) What does it mean to say “they were baptized with the Holy Spirit”? Varied interpretations range from it being an initiation into the Church; regeneration (perfection in Christ); confirmation. Another possibility: transformation (illustration: transformer – the same object but different shape, purpose).
- Jesus’ followers needed something profound if they were to be different, see different – if they were to face what is to come with their mission of being witnesses of Jesus.
The timing of this gift is an interesting consideration. The Spirit came when “they were joined together in one place”. (Verse 14; 2:1 – prayer likely implied). “Joined together” language is not simply a suggestion that they occupied the same space but more than that, they were of the same mind. Would the Holy Spirit have come if they were all at work that day? Would he have come if they had not been in one place, praying? He could have for sure; but it seems significant that when they were together, united in prayer and purpose, when they were with one mind, the Holy Spirit came. There is a message to us in how these events unfolded.
So while they were prayerful and together, the Holy Spirit came upon them. Until now they spent a lot of time clustered and huddled behind closed doors and in the confines of small rooms. There was a lot of fear and understandably so. But through their prayerful, with one mind united experience, the Holy Spirit came on them, He TRANSFORMED them or baptized them. In these moments of transforming experience, they changed. There was a surge of something that swept over them. It was the POWER promised. The first evidence of power was courage; courage to speak of Jesus; courage to declare their allegiance to His claims as God’s Son.
This courage was essential to moving forward. When Jesus returned to God, the disciples would have the full responsibility of THE MISSION.