In my first book I told you, Theophilus, about everything Jesus began to do and teach 2 until the day he was taken up to heaven after giving his chosen apostles further instructions through the Holy Spirit. 3 During the forty days after he suffered and died, he appeared to the apostles from time to time, and he proved to them in many ways that he was actually alive. And he talked to them about the Kingdom of God. 4 Once when he was eating with them, he commanded them, “Do not leave Jerusalem until the Father sends you the gift he promised, as I told you before.5 John baptized with water, but in just a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” 6 So when the apostles were with Jesus, they kept asking him, “Lord, has the time come for you to free Israel and restore our kingdom?” 7 He replied, “The Father alone has the authority to set those dates and times, and they are not for you to know. 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” 9 After saying this, he was taken up into a cloud while they were watching, and they could no longer see him. 10 As they strained to see him rising into heaven, two white-robed men suddenly stood among them. 11 “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why are you standing here staring into heaven? Jesus has been taken from you into heaven, but someday he will return from heaven in the same way you saw him go!”
After the plan came the:
4. Parting Vs 9-11
His parting was crowned by a “cloud” the Shekinah glory of God that filled the Temple in the Old Testament and appeared to Jesus at the Transfiguration. This cloud conveyed the presence and power of God, it was first seen in the wanderings of God’s people enroute from Egypt to the Promised Land (Exodus 16:10). This cloud was also present hovering over the holiest part of the Mercy Seat, resting between the Cherubim on the Ark of the Covenant. Just as the blood of the Temple sacrifices was brought into the Holy of Holies on the Day of Atonement and sprinkled upon the Mercy Seat, so Jesus ascended into Heaven as both Priest and Sacrifice. His sacrifice satisfied the demands of sin. The disciples stood staring, gazing into glory. What is it that has got your gaze, is it God? Is what you are looking at and longing for the Lord. Jesus didn’t just disappear, He arrived at His destination where Mark 16:19 tells us that he is seated in the place of honor at the right hand of God. Seated because He has completed His mission to cleanse us from sin and conquered Satan. While we have an enemy that wants to accuse us we need to remember that we also have an advocate with the authority to intercede for us. It’s here that the angels remind us of His return, this is only a temporary parting because there is going to be a reunion. And when He returns it will be personal, it will be the Savior not some substitute. It will be powerful, He will come on the clouds, even the president the most powerful person on the planet needs a plane. Not only will His return be personal and powerful but it will be palpable, every eye will see. There are over 300 verses in the New Testament that reference the return of Jesus. Christ’s coming should cause us to pursue His plan which leads us to:
5. Participation Vs 9-11
They watched His parting, they waited for His power, and they witnessed to people. There is a time for watching, a time for waiting and a time for witnessing. Witnessing without watching becomes work and witness without waiting is worthless. We need to watch and wait on the Lord but we also need to be a witness and share His Word. Today many have minimized the mission to what they are comfortable with but when the church gets comfortable with the commission it will always face a crisis. In Acts 1:8 we see the commission to go to the ends of the earth and in Acts 8:1 we see the church caught up in the comfort of the city. Instead of journeying out of Jerusalem and taking Jesus to Judea and Samaria they had settled. But it was when they became comfortably complacent that the church faced a crisis. Steven was martyred while God’s people were pursued and put into prison. From a human perspective it was a disaster but from a spiritual perspective it was a present. Because persecution purged and pushed the church out. Persecution caused the church to pursue God’s plan. It says that the people ended up scattered through the regions of Judea and Samaria, that wherever they went they preached the good news. They were scattered like seed. What the enemy used for evil God used to engage and evangelize. Persecution is not a terror for the church it’s a tool. Today we are whining about persecution instead of using it as a wave to motivate and move us so that we can witness and share Jesus with the whole world. We want the church to be a comfortable safe little sanctuary where we can sing our songs in secrete. But do you really think the Deity is just going to let His disciples be disobedient. The great commission isn’t a suggestion it’s a command. We are called to be a witness to a watching world. A witness simply shares what they have seen, they share their story about the Savior. I am not called to be a lawyer and argue the Almighty and shove truth down people’s throats. I’m not called to be the judge and make a ruling or be judgmental. I am called to be a witness and simply share my story of salvation. Which plan are you pursuing, Christ’s commission or the cultures comfort? We are all called to participate and point people to the Savior, Peter preached, Steven was steadfast, John wrote, we all have a story to share its not so much about the method it’s about the Messiah.
28. Focusing on the Future – Part 3