Rev. & Mrs. Kenneth Fellenbaum

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Milford, Connecticut, United States

Bible Verse of the Day

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Prelude to Pentecost

Luke begins his second book, Acts, by describing the words and actions of Jesus before his ascension back to heaven (see Acts 1:1-11). In these eleven verses there are many things that a teacher or preacher could expound upon. For the purpose of this message, I would like to point out three or four things.

First of all, there is the important matter of Christ's resurrection. Luke states that "after his suffering," he convinced them that he was alive. Jesus did this by the following: a) "He showed himself to them" (v.3). Jesus appeared before them personally. He was literally present and visible. b) "He gave many convincing proofs" (v.3). Among the things he did was to show them his hands and his feet. The nail marks from the crucifixion were clearly evident to them. He invited them to "touch me and see" (Luke 24:39). He went on to say, "A ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have." c) Jesus "appeared to them over a period of forty days" (Acts 1:3). These numerous meetings further underscore that this was not one or two appearances that they might have just imagined his presence. d) On one occasion, he ate with them (Acts 1:4); "Do you have anything here to eat?" he asked. "They gave him a piece of broiled fish and he took it and ate it in their presence" (Luke 24:41-43). This is something that a ghost does not do! The fact that the disciples needed to be convinced is further proof of the resurrection. To a man they all came to believe it, even "doubting Thomas," and testified publicly that Jesus rose from the grave. All but John were eventually martyred for their beliefs and faith.

Secondly, Jesus instructed them again about the coming of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:4, 5, & 8). Before his crucifixion, Jesus had given them a lengthy lesson about the Holy Spirit (see John 14-16). No doubt they did not comprehend everything about the Spirit's new role the first time they heard it. What he emphasized here before he ascended was that they should "wait in Jerusalem for the gift my Father promised." In ten days this occurred with the filling of the believers by the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. The point is that before the disciples began to carry out Christ's great commission to take the gospel into all the world they would need to be empowered by the Spirit. This is still necessary for Christians today.

Thirdly, Jesus told them, "You will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth" (Acts 1:8). According to prophecy, the Gospel was to go forth first from Jerusalem (Isaiah 2:3, Luke 24:47). Then after being proclaimed, in the surrounding area, the message was to go to "all nations" (Matthew 28:19). This command remains in effect for Christ's disciples today. Our Jerusalem is wherever we live. Judea and Samaria represents our state and country and the "ends of the earth" simply means the whole world. We can and should personally witness wherever we are. We can carry out the missionary mandate by supporting others who are willing to leave their homes and carry the message abroad. Support involves our prayers and financial contributions.

In conclusion we notice that shortly before he left, Jesus disciples still were not clear about "the Kingdom." This is evident from their question, "Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom of Israel" (Acts 1:6). Note that Jesus did not delay his return to further instruct them about this. Christ's disciples need not have a complete and perfect knowledge of the Bible before they can be used by him for service.

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