Acts 1:3-9 (Voice) 3 After His great suffering and vindication, He showed His apostles that He was alive—appearing to them repeatedly over a period of 40 days, giving them many convincing proofs of His resurrection. As before, He spoke constantly of the kingdom of God. During these appearances, He had instructed His chosen messengers through the Holy Spirit, 4 prohibiting them from leaving Jerusalem, but rather requiring them to wait there until they received what He called “the promise of the Father.” Jesus: This is what you heard Me teach— 5 that just as John ritually cleansed people with water through baptism,[a] so you will be washed with the Holy Spirit very soon. 6 When they had gathered just outside Jerusalem at the Mount of Olives, they asked Jesus, Disciples: Is now the time, Lord—the time when You will reestablish Your kingdom in our land of Israel? Jesus: 7 The Father, on His own authority, has determined the ages and epochs of history, but you have not been given this knowledge. 8 Here’s the knowledge you need: you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you. And you will be My witnesses, first here in Jerusalem, then beyond to Judea and Samaria, and finally to the farthest places on earth. 9 As He finished this commission, He began to rise from the ground before their eyes until the clouds obscured Him from their vision.
The interaction here between Jesus and his disciples after his resurrection is one that is sort of easy to miss, as it is mixed in with talk about Pentecost to come and is part of the introductory verses of the book of Acts. It is often easy to skim right over those first few verses of the New Testament letters, because they often contain greetings and other niceties that don’t seem to have anything to offer us.
But the conversation in verses five through eight is worth paying attention to and considering, in terms of what it can tell us about what Jesus expects from us.
Jesus begins by telling them, in not so many words, that God is about to send the Holy Spirit to guide them and be with them. The disciples, as they are wont to do, don’t quite get what Jesus is saying, and instead are focused on their own ideas.
Even after all of what has happened during Holy Week, Jesus’ death, crucifixion, and resurrection, the disciples are still hoping for a quick turning of the tables on the Roman authorities. They ask Jesus if this is the sign that will mark the beginning of Jesus establishing his kingdom here on earth.
The disciples were so interested in the end, that they were overlooking the journey to get there. We make a similar mistake today when we think of our faith primarily as a vehicle to transport us to heaven after we die, or really as about something later.
Jesus answer to the disciples is a message for us as well. He bluntly says, ‘that knowledge (about when and where things are going to happen) hasn’t been given to you’. But he doesn’t just leave it at that. He lets them, and us, know that we don’t need that information to live into the call he has placed on our lives.
Instead he says, ‘Here’s the knowledge you need: you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you. And you will be My witnesses, first here in Jerusalem, then beyond to Judea and Samaria, and finally to the farthest places on earth.’
Jesus isn’t quite channeling the old adage that ‘it’s about the journey, not the destination’, but he is highlighting how important our journey on the way to our eventual, eternal destination with him is.
Our lives here on earth are not simply time spent in some sort of cosmic waiting room, we are not biding our time until real life begins. Jesus has told us the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand. We are to be building God’s kingdom here and now.
A tall order, to be sure, but we are to remember that he has already assured us that we have what is necessary – the power of the Holy Spirit. Now our task, is to let that Holy Spirit guide us as we share God’s love and be his witnesses in Haymount, Fayetteville, and everywhere we go.
Sharing God’s Love,
Prayer: Lord, don’t allow us to get so focused on the destination that we miss your call to be a part of the journey and to invite others to travel with us. Amen.