The next stop on our journey through the New Testament is the book of Acts. Acts picks up right where Matthew left off. At the end of Matthew, Jesus sent the disciples out into their world to live daily lives that were dedicated to him and his kingdom. That’s what they did. Acts is their story.
If I could sum Acts in one sentence it would be, “Acts is the story of a group of people who believed personally in the Lord Jesus Christ and who expressed their individual and communal lives in such a way that was powerful, graceful, and attractive.” In short, Acts is about the power of God at work in and through the lives of his people, the Church. And, it was something to behold.
Luke begins his account of this early band of believers with a scene in which Jesus instructs his disciples to wait in Jerusalem until the Father’s promised Holy Spirit came upon them. He moves quickly to the story of Jesus’ ascension into Heaven where it is clear that Jesus was present and received his ascension in bodily form. From there two themes stand out that I’ll note this morning.
In verse 4, Luke records Jesus reiterating the reality of the Father’s promised Holy Spirit who would come upon them. Then, in verse 8, he tells them that they will receive power when the promised Holy Spirit comes upon them. I think this is important.
The Holy Spirit’s presence with them was a promise that Jesus initially made prior to his arrest and crucifixion. He had told them that he would not leave them alone, and, in fact, he told them it would better for him to depart and send the Holy Spirit. Now, the promise is closer to coming true. Jesus is leaving them, but he has not left them as sheep without a shepherd. He is giving them his Holy Spirit. However, they would have to wait in faith a little longer. He would be faithful.
He still makes promises to us. Are we willing to wait on him to fulfill those promises. That’s where we get in the most trouble, isn’t it? Our desire to rush things gets in the way. Our desire to “know” what life will be like gets in the way. But, Jesus calls us to wait on him, to trust him.
The apostles were to receive power. This isn’t just any power. It is the power of God himself, the power of the third person of the Trinity. They were to receive Holy Spirit power. That’s huge! Why? because it is Holy Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead. We’ll come back to this power often in Acts. For now, let us think on the nature of such power in the gospel of Christ.