Yesterday I began to write about the book of Acts, and you can find that post here if you didn’t get a chance to read it before – The Acts of the Apostles. Today I am continuing with chapter 1 concentrating on verses 4 and 5.
The first book I wrote, Theophilus, concerned all that Jesus began both to do and to teach, 2 until the day in which he was received up, after he had given commandment through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom he had chosen. 3 To these he also showed himself alive after he suffered, by many proofs, appearing to them over a period of forty days, and speaking about God’s Kingdom. 4 Being assembled together with them, he commanded them, “Don’t depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which you heard from me. 5 For John indeed baptized in water, but you will be baptized in the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”Acts 1:1-5 (WEB)
As we discussed yesterday, these words describe the time between Christ’s Resurrection and His Ascension into Heaven. This was a period of approximately forty days in all.
Verse 4 begins “Being assembled together,” and although perhaps contains no great revelation for us, it should remind us that believers are meant to be together. This is but one example of how the Apostles met together, and indeed were almost constantly together in prayer and worship.
For them, this was of course a time of preparation for the launch of the church. They would not have known this necessarily, but dedicating this time to God in prayer was readying their hearts for what would be a difficult but amazing time ahead.
We must not neglect being together either.
And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.Hebrews 10:25 (NLT)
I have quoted this verse often in recent days, and mentioned it on the blog more than once. It is vital that we – the family of believers – continue to join together. That is especially difficult at this time, as many are still in isolation due to COVID. But I thank God for the technology that allows us to meet virtually if not in person.
The Apostles were together, but they were together with Christ. Note verse 4 which says “Being assembled together with them, he commanded them,” the “he” here is of course Jesus. The Lord was among them and part of their gathering. That’s the way it should be! Church should never become a meeting about God, but a meeting with Him.
Jesus instructs the Apostles to wait. None of us particularly like being told this! Yet Christ always has a good reason for His commands. Some of the Apostles may have been eager to get out there and tell the world about the Risen Lord, desperate to fulfil the Great Commission given them in Matthew 28. Others might have been fearful, afraid of what the Jewish leaders might do to them.
Yet Jesus is clear. Wait.
And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.”Luke 24:49 (ESV)
They must wait for the promise of the Father. They must wait for the coming of the Holy Spirit.
Jesus refers to John’s baptism in water, reflecting repentance and a new start. This new baptism would be a baptism of the Holy Spirit Himself. They would be immersed in the Spirit and His power. Eager they may be to go out and tell others about Christ, but such witness would be ineffective without the aid and strength of the Spirit.
I remember, many years ago, asking God to allow me to preach. I was exxcited about the Word of God and wanted to share it, yet I had little opportunity to do so. God told me I was a pencil… which confused me at first! A pencil you may be, I felt Him say, but you must be sharpened before you can be used.
What are you trying to do in your own strength right now? Has God told you to wait? Are you listening, or are you trying to push the door open anyway? Wait until He tells you the time is right, and has equipped you with all that you need to do the task well.