6 So when they had come together, they were asking Him, saying, “Lord, is it at this time You are restoring the kingdom to Israel?” 7 He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority; 8 but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.” 9 And after He had said these things, He was lifted up while they were looking on, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. 10 And as they were gazing intently into [h]the sky while He was going, behold, two men in white clothing stood beside them. 11 They also said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into [i]the sky? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven.”
It's an interesting thought to think, but imagine opening up your Bible and, after reading the Gospels, you turn the final page of the Gospel of John to see the Book of Romans. How did this book come to be? And how did these Romans come to know the Saviour? The last we read in the Gospels is that Jesus was raised again to life and appeared to many. His message was clear to them:
All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. (Matt. 28:18-20).
Did they go? Was the message of Jesus received? Did many come to know the Saviour through their obedience? I hope to answer these questions in full by the end of devotioning through The Book of Acts. Yet the very fact that you and I are Christians today has something to do with the obedience of these first Apostles. If the Book of Acts was not present or the Acts of the Apostles were not acted out, the Church (if we could even call it that) would be a very different thing. But thanks be to God! The Church does exist and the Holy Spirit was received and many, many people came to know the truth of Jesus' resurrection; still to this day. It's a sobering thought that many still have not heard yet my hope, through looking through these chapters of Acts, is that my readers would be convinced that through these acts of the apostles, there can be many more to come to know our Saviour here and now.
What strikes me the most through reading through these first few verses of The Book of Acts is the tension. These men and women have gathered together to witness Jesus' final ascension. They have heard words similiar to what we have already looked at in Matthew 28 from Jesus, but what do they do? They continue to gaze into the clouds. And we can't fault them for it.
The truth is, I would hazard a guess that if we were there, we would most likely do the same. The truth is, Jesus was not clear when He would return, so why not wait with hopeful expectation that He meant right then and there? But He clearly didn't mean He would return then. One of Jesus' disciples put it this way:
The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9).
This has been the tension of Jesus followers ever since. The LORD's patience. Why wait all this time? Why not come now - right now?! The answer is simple - the LORD does not want any to perish. I am often caught up, gazing into the sky, hoping that this would be the day of His return. But by the end of the day, when the sun is setting, I grieve that today wasn't the day. But there is another perspective. Just as these 'men in white' appeared and, for all intents, knocked them out of their gaze, we need to do the same. The truth is, rather than waiting, with ineffectiveness, we should wait with much effectiveness because we do not know the hour of Christ's returning. But I know you know and I know that there is still much to be done.
These Apostles believed the message of Jesus and the entire world was changed because of their hope in the Risen Saviour.
What does your and my world look like today? Are people being changed because of our hope in Jesus or are we being caught up into the sky, gazing, waiting for His return?
Will we be found busy doing the work of the LORD when He returns?