Acts 1: 6-11 – The World Behind the Text

In the next two weeks in our encounters with Jesus, we will be looking at some of His final words to His disciples before Pentecost.  This week we’ll be looking specifically at Acts 1: 6-11, where Jesus ascends into heaven:

6 So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, is this the time when you will restore the kingdom to Israel?” 7 He replied, “It is not for you to know the times or periods that the Father has set by his own authority. 8 But 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.” 9 When he had said this, as they were watching, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. 10 While he was going and they were gazing up toward heaven, suddenly two men in white robes stood by them. 11 They said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up toward heaven? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.”

rootedchristToday in our world behind the text of Acts, we’ll look deeper at what is happening behind the scenes of this text. Acts is the second volume of a two-volume history written by Luke.  Luke was a Gentile doctor and was a companion of Paul on his later missionary journeys.  Luke writes his gospel with lots of eye witness accounts (he gives a lot of inner dialogue from Mary, for instance) and then gives a great account of Paul’s later conversion. You can tell when Luke enters into Paul’s life and ministry as the pronouns he uses to describe the world of Paul shifts from “he” or “they” to “we.”  Now he has gone from being a reporter of the facts to a part of the greater story.

That is what Luke is trying to do, he is trying to give you the narrative history of Jesus’ life, through the Gospel and now though Acts, of the early church.  Just as the Gospels give us insight into Jesus’ life, the book of Acts does that for the church. I think this is an unspoken, but really important fact that Luke is sharing with us.  You to fully understand Jesus’ story, you must know the story of the church.  And likewise, you can’t know the story of the church apart from Jesus’ story. They are totally entwined and interconnected.

Jesus’ story is the foundation of it all.  Our salvation is purchased through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.  But that story is now lived out through the church.  And just as it is important for every family to know it’s origin story, it is important for us to know the origin of our story as the church.  We’ll get to our birth story in a couple of weeks when we get to Pentecost, and we’ll get to our mission, the Great Commission, next week. But this week, we look at where the wheels really got set into motion, the ascension.

Today, I wanted you to understand why Acts matters, and why we need to understand it in the same way that we understand and treasure the Gospels. Tomorrow we’ll look at why the ascension matters, matters so much that it is included in our creeds.  And from there we’ll talk about the words within the text and what they mean for us.

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