Today we begin diving into one of my personal favorite books of the Bible, the book of Acts, also known as the Acts of the Apostles. This book, which was written by Luke, consists of 28 chapters and tells us about the works of the Apostles in the early days after Christ's death and covers the span of time between Christ’s ministry and the ministry of the Apostles, containing a record of the miracles they performed. The book is divided into two sections - The first part following Peter and the mandate to preach to the Gentiles and the second part following Paul and his missionary journeys that took him far and wide. The book of Acts ends before (spoiler alert) either Peter or Paul are martyred, or killed for their faith in Jesus.
Here in Acts chapter 1 Luke covers the Ascension of Jesus, including Christ's command for the Apostles to wait for the Holy Spirit, and the appearance of two men who prophesy that Christ’s return will be in the same manner as His ascension. It also covers the process of Matthias being chosen to replace Judas. But for the next few moments I want to focus in on that gap of time between Jesus’ ascension in verses 9 through 11 to the appointing Matthias as Judas’ replacement in verses 15 through 26. Let’s read verses 12 - 14 together:
“Then they returned to Jerusalem from them mount of Olives, which is near Jerusalem, a Sabath’s day’s journey away. And when they had entered, they went up to the upper room, where they were staying…all were with one accord, devoting themselves to prayer…”
These few verses just seem so mundane to me. Let’s not forget that just before this they had just witnessed Jesus float up into Heaven, at which time two random dudes appear out of no where telling them that “Jesus, who was taken up into Heaven, would come back in the same way.” And after ALL of that, what was the disciples response? “They returned to Jerusalmen and went to the upper room where they were staying.” I don’t know about you but I don’t think my initial response to seeing something so incredible would be - Well guys, I guess it’s time to go home. But that’s exactly what they did. So that begs the question - Why? Why didn’t they spread out across the countryside testifying of what they had heard and seen?
Because that isn’t what Jesus told them to do, which is clearly laid out in verses 4 & 5 of this Chapter, which state:
“And while staying with them He ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father…the Holy Spirit.”
What a testament to the maturity in their faith and deep trust in Jesus that even after seeing Jesus ascend into Heaven they remembered and acted upon what Jesus had told them to do - even though it no doubt felt like an incredibly mundane and maybe even insignificant thing to do. They didn’t go out and act on presumption, taking leaps of faith based on Jesus promise that they would “do even greater things” as we see promised in John 14:12. Instead, they simply took the singular step in front of them, to go back to Jerusalem and stay there until the Holy Spirit comes.
What an odd request that had to be for them. After all, aside from Jesus speaking of the Holy Spirit the disciples wouldn’t have known exactly what they were “waiting on”. They didn’t have the book of Acts to line things out for them. They didn’t have books and messages and biblical commentary to help them understand the what, why, when, and how of it all. They were just told to go and to wait. And that’s exactly what they did - trusting Jesus would do what He said He would do in His time, while eagerly asking Him to move now!
Are you waiting on God to do something supernatural in your life? Maybe you’re waiting on that unfulfilled promise to come to fruition. Maybe you feel like God has become silent, leaving you to face an unknown future alone. Maybe you are, like the disciples ,waiting for the Baptism in the Holy Spirit you have heard talked about by others. There are countless reasons we might find ourselves in a season of waiting. So the question we must answer is, what are we to do in the waiting? Acts 1 gives us a nice clear path to follow:
Return to the place Jesus told you to go! In your eagerness and excitement, don’t get ahead of Him. Rest in knowing that HIS plan AND His timing are perfect. So ask yourself, what did the Lord tell me to do last, and then go and do that very thing.
Stay connected to other Christians. The bible makes it very clear that the disciples were not alone - not individually or even corporately as a group. There were others there, seeking, praying, interceding, and WAITING right along with them.
Take the natural steps in front of you - staying planted and serving the Lord in the mundane day to day.
And finally, boldly ask God to do what only He can do - supernaturally moving on your behalf. Don’t shy away from bold prayers, instead, embrace them! And as you pray, wait on the Lord to work in you and through you in ways far greater than you could ever have dreamed up or planned out on your own.
Let that be your prayer today - Lord, help me to see you and serve you even in the waiting.