The Jesus Story ends with two promises that remain in force to this day.
Dr. Luke’s version of the Jesus Story does not end at the last chapter of His Gospel. As he announced at the beginning of his Gospel, another volume would follow. It is called the Book of Acts, more properly, “The Acts of The Apostles.” To conclude our devotional study of Luke’s version of the Jesus Story, we will visit the open scenes of the Book of Acts. Here we find an expanded account of the Ascension.
A Promise of Power
In this account, Luke tells us how many days Jesus appeared to the disciples—40, to be exact. This is important because the Feast of Pentecost came 50 days after Passover. On the Day of Pentecost, “the Promise of the Father” came to the church. The ministry of the Holy Spirit would take this name and be called, “Pentecostal.”
Jesus made “The Promise of the Father” even more explicit:
“which,” He said, “you have heard from Me; for John truly baptized with water,
but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”
He introduced this image describing the experience of receiving the promise—baptism, an immersion into the Holy Spirit. Through the ages, this imagery has remained a vivid description of being filled with the Spirit. This baptism would empower believers to fulfill the mission Jesus had given them. This was good news. There was no way these men and women could do what Jesus had commissioned them to do in their own strength. They needed the abiding presence of the Holy Spirit and they knew it.
The idea that Jesus would overthrow the Romans and revive the Old Covenant still lingered in the minds of some. They ask if this was the time for this. The answer Jesus gave took them deeper into the New Covenant and into their mission.
“It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority.”
This was not a pressing issue. They would have to leave the timing of God’s plan in His hands.
“But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
This was the pressing issue. This was their mission.
As they looked at Jesus, He rose from their sight and disappeared into the Heavens. Two angels stood among them. The disciples cleared a circle for them to address them all.
“Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven.”
The second promise—Jesus will return to this earth someday! This is the promise that puts time into its proper perspective. This was the pressing issue—receive the Promise of the Father to prepare for the Promise of His coming. As Jesus commanded, they went back to Jerusalem and waited.
This part of the Jesus Story ends with two promises that remain in force to this day.
Acts 1:1-11 NKJV
The former account I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach, until the day in which He was taken up, after He through the Holy Spirit had given commandments to the apostles whom He had chosen, to whom He also presented Himself alive after His suffering by many infallible proofs, being seen by them during forty days and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God. And being assembled together with them, He commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father, “which,” He said, “you have heard from Me; for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” Therefore, when they had come together, they asked Him, saying, “Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” And He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority. But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” Now when He had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel, who also said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven.”
Lord Jesus, Your story is the hope of the world. There is no other saving truth. There is no other redemption for lost lives, wounded souls, and broken bodies. Give me a passion for the lost. Holy Spirit, empower me to tell the Jesus Story in words, deeds of mercy, and in worship, in both the blaring light of day and the deepest of dark nights. Help me to disappear into the revelation of Your glory. May my story be another chapter in Your Story, Lord Jesus. Amen and Amen.
We’ve a Story to Tell to the Nations
Words and Music: H. Ernest Nichol
1. We’ve a story to tell to the nations, that shall turn their hearts to the right,
a story of truth and mercy, a story of peace and light, a story of peace and light.
For the darkness shall turn to dawning, and the dawning to noonday bright,
and Christ’s great kingdom shall come on earth, the kingdom of love and light.
2. We’ve a song to be sung to the nations, that shall lift their hearts to the Lord,
a song that shall conquer evil and shatter the spear and sword,
and shatter the spear and sword.
3. We’ve a message to give to the nations, that the Lord who reigneth above
has sent us His Son to save us, and show us that God is love,
and show us that God is love.
4. We’ve a Savior to show to the nations, who the path of sorrow has trod,
that all of the world’s great peoples may come to the truth of God,
may come to the truth of God.
© 2018 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved