Read for This Week’s Study: Acts 1:6-8, Luke 24:25, Luke 24:44-48, Deut. 19:15, Acts 1:9-26, Prov. 16:33.
Memory Text: “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8, NRSV).
Jesus’ mission on earth was finished. God would soon send the Holy Spirit, who—ratifying their efforts with many signs and wonders—would empower and lead the disciples on a mission that would reach the ends of the earth. Jesus could not stay with them forever in human flesh. Not only did His incarnation impose upon Him a physical limitation in the context of a worldwide mission, but His ascension and exaltation in heaven were necessary in order for the Spirit to come.
Until Jesus’ resurrection, however, the disciples did not clearly know these things. When they left everything to follow Him, they believed that He was a political liberator who would one day drive the Romans out of the land, reinstate David’s dynasty, and restore Israel to its past glory. It was not easy for them to think otherwise.
This is the primary issue of Jesus’ final instructions to the disciples in Acts 1. The promise of the Spirit comes in this context. The chapter also describes Jesus’ return to heaven and how the early church prepared itself for Pentecost.