There are 8,000 or so promises in the Old Testament, but the one today is THE promise of the Father. It’s pretty important, maybe one of the most important. Christ followers will receive the power of the Spirit to be witnesses. Not just to do witnessing, but to be witnesses.
The early Christians will be witnesses in
Jerusalem – where they currently are and end up staying because when the Spirit does come, the church goes exponential overnight in revival and people stay after the festival has finished to be part of it.
Judea – as we will see in Acts it took some persecution and scattering before the early Chrstians started moving out of Jerusalem into the surrounding area.
Samaria – here is an early indication, that the Spirit will want them to be witnesses among non-Jews, starting with a people group who used to be Jews but got so intermarried they have diluted their shared faith and got some pretty weird ideas.
Ends of the Earth – the Spirit will eventually empower mission to the rest of the world.
The preparation for the fulfilment of the promise starts with Jesus ascending to the bewilderment of the disciples. Then as they meet for prayer, Peter, announces that Judas needs replacing so there are a symbolic and significant to him 12 apostles, just like there are 12 tribes.
So they begin the process of finding someone who is a witness of all that has happened and especially the resurrection. One has to feel sorry for Joseph Barasabbas. He didn’t make the original 12 – because Jesu chose Judas! There are months more of following closely, getting sent out with the 72 on mission, seeing Jesusride into Jerusalem on a donkey, the crowds turning on Jesus, the cross and resurrection and final ascension. Then finally again another chance. Joseph makes the shortlist of two to replace Judas. But, Matthias is chosen – someone so unimpressive he is never mentioned again!
You may be like Joseph Barasabbas yourself – you may have had high hope sof a call to leadership, or planting churches or other exploits in Christ’s name. It may still happen, but first there’s serving faithfully in the small things and the sidelines of the kingdom. God’s call is to do what He says humbly and with good grace.
There is a possible epilogue to Joseph Barsabbas story in 15:21. A man called Barsabbas is chosen to take the letter to the churches from the Jerusalem council. Here it is Judas Barsabbas. It might be the brother or it might be the same Joseph Barsabbas who was nicknamed Justus because he was just, with another nickname Judas because he was a man of Praise. Who knows?
Whatever, we hear nothing bad about Barsabbas after Mathias was chosen instead of him. Don’t be discouraged if you are overlooked. Be filled with the Spirit and a witness where God has placed you.
Marinate on that