Have you ever considered why Jesus ascended to heaven forty days after his resurrection? It was his big moment—he had conquered death, just as he said—and he was seemingly poised to lead his apostles in re-establishing God’s kingdom on Earth. Why didn’t he stay to encourage and lead his followers?
In the first few verses of Acts, Luke recounts Jesus’ final words to his disciples, and gives the reason why it was best that Jesus leave for a time.
- How might the world be different if Jesus had never left?
READ THE WORD: ACTS 1:1-5 (ESV)
1:1 In the first book, O Theophilus, I have dealt with all that Jesus began to do and teach, 2 until the day when he was taken up, after he had given commands through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom he had chosen. 3 He presented himself alive to them after his suffering by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God.
4 And while staying with them he ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, “you heard from me; 5 for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”
English Standard Version, copyright 2001 by Crossway Bibles. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
- How were the apostles described in verse 2, and what does verse 3 say that Jesus did for them? What does this tell you about Jesus’ relationship to the apostles?
- What command did Jesus give the apostles, and what were they told to wait for?
- What (or who) is the “promise of the Father”?
- In Luke 24:49, the apostles were told to stay in the city (Jerusalem) until they were “clothed with power from on high.” How would being baptized in the Holy Spirit clothe the apostles with power from on high in a way that John’s water baptism did not?
- How is it better for you to have the Holy Spirit with you right now, rather than to have Jesus physically present? What difference does the Holy Spirit make in your life?
RESPOND TO GOD
Jesus’ ascension was the watershed between the earthly and heavenly ministry of Jesus, but before he returned to the Father, Jesus had a few more things to communicate to his apostles. He spent forty days continuing to build their faith, providing proofs that he had, indeed, conquered death, and reminding them that God would send his promised Holy Spirit to them. Jesus chose the apostles, he showed himself to them, he commissioned them, and he promised them the Holy Spirit—that they would be clothed in power from above. Now all they had to do was wait for the fulfillment of this promise.
- Thank God that he didn’t leave us as orphans (John 14:18).
- Ask the Holy Spirit to guide you in all truth, to use you to glorify God, and to work powerfully through you today (John 16:13).