The book of Acts is the second book in a series of books written by a doctor named Luke. We just finished going thorough the first book, the gospel we typically just call, Luke. In Luke, we find a well documented history of Jesus life. In Acts, we find the same attention to detail, but now the author is writing about the life of the early church. In chapter 1, we see Jesus’ final moments on earth. In these last moments, Jesus will give marching orders to his people and over the next few weeks we’ll get to watch the early church learn and grow as they seek to obey them. So what did Jesus tell his people before leaving earth? Acts 1 gives it to us.
So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?”  He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority.  But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”  And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight.
Acts 1:6-9 (ESV)
Jesus’ followers had a great desire. They essentially say, “Let’s build God’s kingdom right now!” Unfortunately, they had wrong ideas about how that would happen. You see, they still had some old ideas about the Messiah’s work. They thought he would be a political ruler, and a military hero who would restore the kingdom of Israel to its former glory. It turns out God’s plan transcended human kingdoms and politics. But Jesus doesn’t discourage the building of his kingdom! He tells them how to do it.
James Montgomery Boice offers these helpful words about this passage:
Jesus answered: It is not your business to know when I am going to set up my kingdom. Your job is to be my witnesses in the world. And that is what you will be. You are going to receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the world.
Believers in Christ have always been faced with two great temptations where this assignment is concerned. One is the temptation to idleness, to say, “Well, Jesus has saved me, my wife (or husband), and my children. I have a nice church. Everything is comfortable. I think I’ll just sit around and wait for Jesus to come back. We’ll be patient. We’ll wait.”
Jesus says to such an inactive church that they are to be filled with the Holy Spirit and when they are filled they are to go out and witness to him in all the earth. The church that is not witnessing is not obeying its Lord.
The second temptation is the one the disciples were already caught up in. It is the temptation to think that we are to do the Lord’s work in the world’s way. We are to establish the kingdom politically—by law, by getting Christians into high positions in government, and by imposing our vision of society on the world. […]
Only the Holy Spirit can take the gospel to the hearts and minds of men and women and change them into disciples of the Lord.
Imagine the drama of this scene. Jesus is standing before this crowd right after his resurrection. He gives them final instructions and then ascends into heaven. As we celebrate Christ’s resurrection this Sunday, let’s remember that the risen Christ has called us to be his witnesses in the world on Monday.
Grace & Peace.
Daily Reading: Today’s bible reading is Acts 1. If you started with me in January, we’re still on track to read through the New Testament this year! If you haven’t been reading, now is a great time to jump in!