The forty day period from Jesus’ resurrection to His ascension is summarized this way by Luke: He presented himself alive to them after his suffering by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God. (Acts 1:3) Some of those convincing proofs: Jesus ate with them, invited them to verify crucifixion wounds, appeared to more than 500 people at one time.
As He prepared to leave for heaven, Jesus gave two seemingly contradictory commands.
- The first: Wait. And while staying with them he ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, “you heard from me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” (Acts 1:4-5)
- The second: Go. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)
These are both instructive for us today. If we call ourselves Jesus followers, that means that He takes the lead. We do not go ahead of Him. His pace is our pace. He leads, we follow. While the command to “wait” for the Holy Spirit’s baptism is not repeated for other New Testament believers, all of us need to “sync up” with Jesus’ pace and His direction. It’s what followers do.
The early church overdid the “wait” part and stayed in Jerusalem until a persecution in Acts 8 drove them out. Now those who were scattered went about preaching the word. (Acts 8:4) The early church got the “wait” part but neglected the “go” part. Since the command Jesus gave His followers extends “to the end of the earth,” the command is still in play today.
While not everyone will leave our shores, all true Christians will send their prayers and funds to support the great work of reaching the lost. And all true Christians will likewise share the claims of Christ with those around them and invite their response to the gospel.
So listen to and sync up with Jesus, as His follower. And go forth in His name to all. It’s not over. The resurrection still matters. Jesus is alive.
-Pastor Mike O’Connor