Acts 1:3 (NCV) After his death, he showed himself to them and proved in many ways that he was alive. The apostles saw Jesus during the forty days after he was raised from the dead, and he spoke to them about the kingdom of God.
In the first chapter of Acts, Luke writes about the disciples’ time with the resurrected Christ. These men had been eye-witnesses to Christ and his ministry prior to his death. During this 40 days period, Jesus talked to them about the coming kingdom of God. In His last words to them in Acts 1:8, Jesus promises the Holy Spirit. They knew that John baptized with water representing new life (Luke 3:16), but Jesus was promising something else. They would find out what being baptized with the Holy Spirit meant in a matter of days (Acts 2) because they would receive power to continue the work Jesus gave them to do. The Holy Spirit would to guide, provide for, correct and protect them. It was through this power, they would reach their known world for Christ (Acts 1:8). Isn’t that amazing?
Okay, so let’s get a picture in our mind. The 40 days Jesus spent with the disciples after his death was coming to an end. Before he ascended into heaven, he told them that the Holy Spirit was coming. Can you picture the scene? Have you ever wondered what they were thinking or how they were feeling during this time? Do you think they were excited about what was coming? Jesus had told them, prior to his death, that they would do even greater things (John 14:12) than he did on the earth. Now I don’t know about you… but I would probably think back to the miracles Jesus performed during his time of ministry. Whoa… I am going to be able to heal the sick and perhaps give sight to the blind? Whoa…just whoa!
So the final words Jesus spoke to the disciples as the resurrected Christ is found in Acts 1:8:
“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.”
After he said these words he was lifted into heaven and a cloud hid him from the disciple’s sight (Acts 1:9). Whoa… what would you have done or thought if you were one of the disciples witnessing Christ’s ascension that day? Would you have embraced the words of Jesus and immediately ran to tell someone everything you just saw? Or, would you have stood there with the disciples looking up at the sky? I am not sure what I would have done. But don’t leave the scene too quickly. Just after Christ disappeared from their site, two men approached them and said “why are you standing there looking at the sky? Jesus whom you saw taken up to heaven will come back the same way you saw him go.” (Acts 1:11)
Whoa… can anyone guess what the moral of this story is??? Don’t get caught standing around looking up at the sky when Jesus returns….He wants us to be His witnesses! So what does “Jerusalem, Judea, and Samaria look like to you? Let me tell you what that looks like from where I am in Virginia Beach, Virginia. My Jerusalem would be my neighborhood or the Virginia Beach area. My Judea would be other cities that make up the Hampton Roads region of Virginia: Chesapeake, Norfolk, Portsmouth. My Samaria would be the states surrounding Virginia – or it could represent the United States. To the ends of the earth…well that one should make sense… it’s anywhere God is calling me to go and be a witness for Him. The best part is, I am not alone! The Holy Spirit will be my guide every step of the way.
He has a purpose and a plan for each and every one of us. It is up to us to figure out what that purpose is and then be a witness for Him as we fulfill that purpose.