Acts 1 – The Aftermath

The Promise of the Holy Spirit

In the first book, O Theophilus, I have dealt with all that Jesus began to do and teach, until the day when he was taken up, after he had given commands through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom he had chosen. 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. And while staying[a] 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; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with[b] the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” Acts 1:1-5

Luke starts his second book to Theophilus with a brief summary of the forty days that Jesus spent with his disciples. And on one such occasion he told them not to leave Jerusalem and wait to receive the promise of the Father. The promise that they had heard Jesus talk about but never experienced. Of course Jesus was talking about the Holy Spirit, but why did He want them to remain in Jerusalem till that time? The Holy Spirit could descend on any city and not just Jerusalem. In the gospels we see at least two different places where Jesus sends his disciples to spread the good news outside Jerusalem. So the disciples had been outside Jerusalem without Jesus. But this time their mission was to spread the gospel to the entire world, the Gentiles, Greeks, Jews, everyone. Jesus wanted them to receive the Holy Spirit and enjoy the fellowship amongst themselves before they spread out into the world.

Then Jesus told them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. – Mark 2:27

The Ascension

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….. 12 Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a Sabbath day’s journey away. 13 And when they had entered, they went up to the upper room, where they were staying, Peter and John and James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot and Judas the son of James. 14 All these with one accord were devoting themselves to prayer, together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers.[c Acts 1:6-14

The disciples were still expecting a glorious ending to Jesus’ story unaware that they were now responsible to take the gospel to all the nations. Jesus rebuked them saying that they need not know the times that the Father has set, but assured them that the Holy Spirit will come upon them to enable them to work towards the goal of that glorious ending. After witnessing Jesus’ ascension they returned to Jerusalem and Luke carefully mentions that they walked a sabbath day’s journey. Maybe the ascension of Jesus was on a sabbath and the disciples being  jews were only allowed to travel a little less than a mile on that day. The disciples were still under the bondage of sabbath and had forgotten what Jesus taught them about sabbath.

Then Jesus told them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. – Mark 2:27

Matthias Chosen to Replace Judas

In those days Peter stood up among the brothers (the company of persons was in all about 120) and said, 16 “Brothers, the Scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit spoke beforehand by the mouth of David concerning Judas, who became a guide to those who arrested Jesus. 17 For he was numbered among us and was allotted his share in this ministry.” 18 (Now this man acquired a field with the reward of his wickedness, and falling headlong[d] he burst open in the middle and all his bowels gushed out. 19 And it became known to all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, so that the field was called in their own language Akeldama, that is, Field of Blood.) 20 “For it is written in the Book of Psalms, “‘May his camp become desolate, and let there be no one to dwell in it’; and “‘Let another take his office.’ 21 So one of the men who have accompanied us during all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, 22 beginning from the baptism of John until the day when he was taken up from us—one of these men must become with us a witness to his resurrection.” 23 And they put forward two, Joseph called Barsabbas, who was also called Justus, and Matthias. 24 And they prayed and said, “You, Lord, who know the hearts of all, show which one of these two you have chosen 25 to take the place in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas turned aside to go to his own place.” 26 And they cast lots for them, and the lot fell on Matthias, and he was numbered with the eleven apostles. Acts 1:15-26

I am not sure why Peter felt the need to find a replacement for Judas, or why only Matthias was chosen and Justus was rejected, but the idea of casting lots to know the will of God seems weird. Casting of lots was an age old tradition to find the will of God. Particularly, lots were cast to know who had went against God’s will, like Jonathan (1 Samuel), Achan (Joshua) and Jonah (Jonah). Lots were also cast to decide key positions in the temple. Although it seems out of place to us, in those days it was a pretty common way for the Israelites to know God’s will.  Remember, that while they were electing Judas’ replacement, neither Jesus nor the Holy Spirit were present with the disciples. So they did what tradition had taught them to do. But we have the word of God, prayer and Holy Spirit’s guidance to help us know God’s will.

One Comment Add yours

  1. BelleUnruh says:

    It is wonderful to read about these events again. I’ve wondered about throwing lots before. Since God didn’t tell them not to do that, it seems a little strane we don’t do that now.

    One time, my husband and I had a huge decision to make about his job and where we should live. I felt we could not take this step without knowing God’s will. I’d never done it before, snd haven’t since, but I asked God for a sign.

    That night I had a dream. I was in a plane with my mother. I looked out the window and we were landing in Kelowna. I said, We’re home, Mom.” (She was living with us at the time.)

    I woke up, and I knew this was the sign we needed. We moved to Kelowna. I think it must be okay to ask like that once in awhile.

    Liked by 1 person

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