Todays reading is Acts 1
After spending 3 months in the gospels, I feel like we have had a pretty close look at Jesus’ disciples lives. Twelve ordinary men, working each day to make a living, maintaining family relationships and obligations and being engaged in their communities. Sounds pretty much like us, right? Regular people doing regular things each day to make a living and keeping relationships with our families. Then Jesus meets each of them and their lives change completely. Jesus says leave your jobs and your families and follow me. There is something about Him that makes each of those men agree to literally drop their lives and go with Him. So they have left everything that they know and every security of their lives to be with Jesus. Along the way, Jesus is honest with them and tells them what they will suffer and encounter being associated with Him. They are hated, persecuted and beaten because of their relationship with Him. Then they have to watch and live through their friend and leader being accused falsely, convicted of things He didn’t do and then die in a manor that is a far greater consequence than the death He should have been given if He was actually guilty of what they had accused. Through all of this, they don’t completely understand what is happening and why it is happening.
So we start Acts during the forty days after Jesus death. I’m trying to put myself in minds of those disciples. At what point do they realize that all is not lost? When do they start to turn from grieving their loss to realizing that Jesus’ ministry is now squarely on their shoulders and they have huge responsibility to share the story? I wish that Acts 1:3 was an entire book. It says, “ During the forty days after He suffered and died, He appeared to them from time to time, and He proved to them in many ways that He was actually alive. And He talked to them about the Kingdom of God.” There is SO much missing here! I want so badly to know what this time looked like, I want to hear the conversations that gave these men the understanding and insight they needed to be all in and ready to take Jesus story to the ends of the earth even after all they have lived through in the last 3+ years. Because of the rest of the chapter, we can only assume that Jesus ministered, explained, encouraged, reassured and bolstered this group of men to prepare them for the rest of their lives.
These ordinary men, people like us with regular jobs and families who love them, have just spent about 3 years with Jesus and had their lives, their hearts and their minds turned upside down, are encouraged and ready to spread the gospel without their leader physically at their side. The last half of the chapter tells us how they went about the business of replacing Judas so they could carry out their calling in full force. They are so encouraged, fueled and full of passion for their work that they almost seem unfazed by Jesus ascension. Luke provides us no other comment on their reaction except that they watched and strained to see Jesus rising into heaven. Once more Jesus reassures them by sending two angels to tell them that Jesus has been taken to heaven but that someday He will return from heaven in the same way He went.
This chapter shows me that Jesus is with me in whatever I am dealing with. He knows what is going on in my life, He is walking through it with me, and is willing to prepare and ready me for what lies ahead if I am willing to follow Him.