We are back to the writings of Luke, the doctor, who has carefully set out to write an orderly account from eyewitness testimony of Jesus and His church.
It was important for the earliest believers that there were 12 apostles, who would be guardian witnesses of the resurrection, safeguarding the truth of all the good news that Jesus’ defeat of death and sin has achieved for us.
- Jesus has presented himself to them alive v.3
- Given them many proofs
- Given them instructions and commands for what Christianity looks like.
They need to safeguard that and pass it on and on. They are down one as Judas, the betrayer, has come to a sticky end. At the end of the passage they address that issue. For now the last words of Jesus – to wait in the city for the Spirit to come and empower them to be witnesses – are ringing in their ears.
But first a dumb question “Lord will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?”. John Stott wrote that there are as many problems with that question as there are words! Jesus doesn’t answer them directly but instead gets their ears ringing!
They will receive the power of the Holy Spirit to be witnesses in…
- Jerusalem – where they find themselves (not their home towns in Galilee)
- Judea – the surrounding area
- Samaria – where people don’t like them and follow false religions
- the ends of the earth – the rest of the world.
Jesus gives us the Spirit to empower us to be bold in talking about him and demonstrating his kingdom to people where we live, the region, to those who appear to be our enemies and all over the world. The gospel is good news to take around the world and gossip over the garden fence. After Jesus prophesied of the soon to come Spirit, He ascended, in a visible way, to be at the right hand of the Father and the angels told the apostles that He will come back the same way – not a secret rapture then!
While they waited, they kept meeting together, of one accord, in unity, praying.
It was important symbolically for there to be 12 accredited witnesses, apostles. Because of its Jewish roots with 12 tribes, the fulfilment of all the promises needed 12 apostles. Some have commented that perhaps they should have waited for Paul. At this point they are still living in old covenant mode and use an old covenant form of guidance – casting lots. Once the Spirit has come, guidance will be in the Spirit … “It seemed good to us and the Holy Spirit.”