ACTS 1:6-14

THE BACKGROUND

The book of Acts is the second book that Luke wrote for us.  The first is the gospel of Luke.  The second is the book of Acts.  You could call it a sequel.  It tells us what happened after Jesus’ ascension into heaven.  It begins, appropriately enough, with His ascension. The ending of Luke’s gospel (Lk 24:50-51) also gives a brief account of His ascension.

THE DETAILS

  • Why would Luke mention the ascension twice? I can think of two possible reasons. Maybe you can think of more.  If so, please share them with others. 
    • In the early years of the Christian church, the gospels and letters were circulated separately.  Perhaps the ascension meant so much to Luke, that he wanted to make sure it was read, regardless of which scroll (they didn’t have “books back then”) was being read.
    • The ascension is not only the end of the story of Jesus’ life on earth, it is the beginning of the Holy Spirit’s involvement in the new church.
  • In verse 6, the apostles are still asking Jesus when he will be their king! They still don’t get it; but they will, soon enough.  His answer demonstrates his love and patience for answering their seemingly stupid questions. “You don’t need to know that.”  Instead, in verse 8, he gives them an assignment; one we still have for us today—“…you will tell everyone about me… everywhere in the world.”
  • Verses 10 & 11 always crack me up.  I can see the apostles standing there, drop-jawed, looking up.  Two angels suddenly appear, and say something like “Why are you standing around?  GET TO WORK!”  (My paraphrased version.)

 

THE TAKEAWAY

  • The ascension of Jesus was important to Luke, it should be important to us.  The Holy Spirit cannot come, until Jesus leaves.  It was time for the Holy Spirit to do his/her work. 
  • We have a job to do.  (See verse 8)  Time to get to work!  The Holy Spirit helps us with this work.

 

1 PETER 4:12-14; 5:6-11

THE BACKGROUND

This is our final lesson from the letter called 1 Peter.  Remember that Peter wrote this letter the newly baptized in Christ.  Many were suffering for their belief in Jesus as the messiah.  Some suffered physically, others suffered socially.

THE DETAIL

  • Many more Christians suffered socially than did physically.  Sure, many people lost their lives for believing in Jesus.  But many more were ostracized, or cut off from family and social relationships.  This can be devastating emotionally.  It can also be devastating financially, if you lose your job or lose business because of your religious beliefs.  (vv. 12-14) 
  • Peter offers encouraging words in verses 6-9. We are to be humble, be on our guard, stay awake, resist the devil, and many more things.  This instruction has been called a “spiritual fitness program” for us.
  • Finally, Peter reminds of God’s grace, of God’s steadfast love for us.  Through the work of the Holy Spirit, God will restore, support, strengthen, and establish us. For this, he deserves our praise. (vv. 10-11) 

THE TAKEAWAY

I don’t know about you, but I could use a fitness program like this!  We need to be spiritually fit at all times.  We never know when we will suffer, either physically or emotionally. We need to pray, worship, and read the scriptures regularly, so that we are spiritually fit, and always prepared for what might be ahead.

JOHN 17:1-11

THE BACKGROUND

Jesus has finished his long farewell speech to his apostles.  He is about to go to the garden of Gethsemane, where he will be betrayed and arrested.  He concludes the meal and speech by praying to his Father in Heaven. This prayer has been named his “High Priestly Prayer”.  A priest, pastor, or preacher is the shepherd of their flock.  Jesus, displays his concern for our continued care.

THE DETAIL

There are three parts to his prayer.

  • First, he asks his Father to bring glory to him, so that he may bring glory to the Father. I understand “glory” here to mean the power and might of God.  Jesus is asking for the strength to face what lies ahead, so that he can complete the Father’s work.  (vv. 1b-5)
  • Then, he prays for his apostles (and for all his followers, including us).  He reminds his Father that we are his representatives.  (vv. 6-10)
  • Finally, he asks his Father to keep us safe, because we are still “in the world”, and need his protection.  (v. 11)

THE TAKEAWAY

When he prays to his Father, he is concerned about the well-being of his “flock”, rather than his own well-being.  He is about to be crucified, and yet he is concerned about us!

We can take comfort in knowing that Jesus intercedes to the Father for us, then and now.  We know that we have Jesus’ “ear”, which means that we also have the Father’s.

We are God’s precious possession, and we now know that He will protect and sustain us.  Amen!