Read Acts 1:12-26
Last week we looked at the opening statements of Luke here in the book of Acts seeking to explain the events of the Ascension and help Theophilus understand how these things took place.
As we move forward in this book it is important to understand
The precision at which Luke writes. Luke uses hundreds of words that are not found elsewhere in the scriptures. Luke was well educated and the way in which he wrote reveals this. Acts is important as a New Testament book as a book for two main reasons. First, it is a book of history. “ It mentions over 30 countries, 50 towns, numerous islands, one hundred people, sixty of whom are not mentioned anywhere else in scripture.” Luke demonstrates impressive knowledge of geography, local politics, customs, sea faring, and the first century Mediterranean world in general.” Pg. 211 Secondly, not just as a book of history but also theological. It chronicles the early teaching, preaching and understanding about Jesus Christ. One final item of importance to our study is that in looking at the book of Acts, this book is a narrative and merely describes what the early church did and the events that took place but do not necessarily prescribe what should take place in different times or seasons of the church. On a theological side however Luke does intend to reveal the teaching of the apostles in the sermons recorded within the book and in this way is prescribing an understanding of what early followers of Jesus believed and taught. So while Acts is written by Luke as a narrative much historical and theological truth can be collected from these pages.
We want to look at this passage in two main points this morning.
- Practical Obedience (vs.12-14)
- Peters perception (vs. 15-23)
- Practical Obedience
As we learned from vs 6 last week the Lord instructed them not to worry about the Father’s timetable of fulfilling the establishment of His earthly reign. Rather, He instructed them vs. 8 to use their focus to obey the great commission by the power of the Holy Spirit. But before the Lord would use them to accomplish these things, He instructed them with one other instruction. “Wait”. Like any of us, the temptation is to take orders and want to jump on something to make it happen. The world is a big place, we need to get started! “Wait” is God’s instruction here and we looked at that briefly last week as a biblical theme throughout scripture. There is wisdom in waiting. Especially when God commands it. He was going to accomplish this in His power not theirs. Isn’t that comforting? So, they were not to worry about when the Father was going to restore the kingdom, they were to wait for the Holy Spirit, but also they were told to wait in a particular place. Jerusalem. We see here something very encouraging: practical obedience to the word of God. Stop something: worrying about some kind of political change or overthrow of Rome, start something: wait for me in Jerusalem. Notice verse 14 that this was an active waiting. They simply went back to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet (vs. 12) and went a sabbath day’s journey into the city. They go to the upper room where they devoted themselves to prayer. They prayed while waiting. So, this wasn’t just the practical obedience of just one person individually but rather the practical obedience of of many corporately. Look at verse 13, the eleven remaining disciples are there with women (probably their wives), then Mary the mother of Jesus and Jesus brothers. The word used here Could also refer to siblings in general translated “brother” but Jesus’ sisters may have been there too. (Matt. 13:56;6:3) Luke clearly communicates that those present were the original disciples (starting with the inner circle Peter, John and James), then the women connected to this group and special mention of Jesus immediate family. Many assume Joseph, Jesus’ earthly father had probably died by this point. These were the original men whom Jesus called unto Himself and they remained. Another fruit of practical obedience as Jesus had instructed them to remain in Him (John 15:4) he had told them to take heart for he had overcome the world (John 16:33) then he also mentions this in his prayer for them and all who would come to faith through them, and God is answering this prayer already in their lives. Turn with me to John 17. Listen how Jesus prays for them and really all believers who would believe through their witness. Look at verse 6-26:
Jesus knew who were His and He now was sending them out as His witnesses. They were obeying His commands and thereby proving to be His disciples. They waited in Jerusalem believing God despite their expectations of an earthly kingdom. Luke then turns the narrative towards Peter’s perception concerning the office of the 12th disciple. Peter has been pondering these things and sees the importance for obedience to this text of scripture and so he desires to fill this office and opens the topic, and it ends with a newly appointed representative that took Judas place.
- Peters perception (vs. 15-23)
It is important to note that Peter is speaking to 120 people here. In other words Luke found it important to tell Theophilus that there were witnesses to what Peter said and did. Peter also wanted to make this public and not just privately. He was speaking concerning Judas Iscariot. Judas had numbered himself with them as followers of Jesus. While Peter’s account of his death is somewhat different than the gospels record it seems that it is complementary not contradictory. That is Judas as stated in the gospel of Matthew that he hung himself, apparently he had done so and was also quite a violent ending to his life. The field that was purchased with the blood money had also been prophesied in Jeremiah, and Zechariah. Peter wanting to follow through shows the prophesy of these two Psalms and their interpretation in relation to Judas and a need to be responded to by appointing someone else in Judas’ place. Vs. 22 places the importance that not just anyone can take this office. This office had to be filled by one who:
- Was numbered with the disciples while Jesus was amongst them
- Had been with them from the baptism of John till the Ascension.
- A witness to the resurrection of Jesus.
The two men who met these qualifications were; Joseph called Barsabbas (Justus) (Acts 15:22) while not chosen by lot he remained a leader and influential in the early church as Acts 15:22 states. Matthias was the other. We know very little about him but the lot was cast to decide between the two and it fell on Matthias. Vs. 24 they had been praying concerning this as vs 14 says they were devoting themselves to prayer. They ask the Lord to show them who was to take this office. They sought to discern God’s will through the casting of lots which the outcome revealed whom He had chosen. This of course is a perfect example of a descriptive text and prescriptive text. It is revealing how the disciples made a decision between two qualified individuals for the apostolic office while not prescribing this means to the church everywhere in all ages.
Christ was already helping His disciples obey His Word practically all the while showing them their utter dependence upon Him for His Sovereign will to be known. Are we obeying the Lord in the simple and practical ways everyday? It sure places us in a blessed position when the more difficult decisions come. Have you waited on the Lord, gone to the people in your Jerusalem? Are you trusting His sovereign plan to fulfill all that concerns you? Are you trusting Him? Let’s pray.
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