so when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to israel?” he said to them, “it is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. 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.” and when he had said these things, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. and while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, and said, “men of galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? this Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.” [acts 1:6-11]
so many beautiful truths in this short paragraph! Jesus, the Son of God, having completed the work of redemption, is giving his final words of encouragement to his disciples before he is taken up to be seated at the right hand of the Father. these words are ours to treasure as well, if we are his disciples. so as the writer of Hebrews says, pay attention! as Jesus deploys the troops.
1. we are sent for God’s plan to restore all of creation to himself, not to create an earthly empire.
[Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to israel?] but Jesus responds: [you will be my witnesses…to the end of the earth.] our mission is not to hunker down within the church waiting to receive God’s blessing, but to boldly bring the good news of Christ to all people, everywhere. by consistently refocusing our mind by meeting with the Lord, we will not lose sight of his mission.
2. we are sent with urgency.
[it is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority.] Jesus doesn’t say exactly when he is coming back. we don’t know when the fullness of his flock of sheep have followed him through the gate! every person you come across, because they are still breathing, is potentially his follower. so with urgency, we speak the truth of the gospel, knowing that Jesus will return like a thief in the night. by being daily filled with the presence of God, will not grow weary of our calling.
3. we are sent in the power of the Holy Spirit.
[but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses…] this is such wonderful news. our flesh is weak. our pride is deceiving. our knowledge is short sighted. but in the power of the Spirit, the gospel will go out with clarity and beauty! when we hold fast our confession, continuing to behold the Lamb of God, meeting with him consistently, our speech will be Spirit filled, unashamed, lovingly bold, full of joy. we are the messengers, the Spirit brings salvation!
4. we are sent NOW.
[“men of galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? this Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.”] in other words, “what are you doing just standing around! he’s given you work to do! when Jesus makes us his disciple, we are given the Spirit, and he calls us to go and make more disciples. there’s not a period of probation to tell someone else what Christ has done in your heart. you may have just met him, you may not know him well, but you know him. so as you meet with him, seeking to know him more, this is going to overflow from your lips to those around you. Jesus is calling us to get to work!
Father, fill us with the Spirit, that we might be your witnesses to the ends of the earth. fill us with humility, urgency, and the power of the Holy Spirit to go TODAY into a world that is desperate for you and declare the hope that can only be found in the blood of your Son. amen.