Acts 1:4 – “And while being in their company and eating with them, He commanded them not to leave Jerusalem but to wait for what the Father had promised, Of which [He said] you have heard Me speak.”
Jesus is sharing a meal with the disciples after His resurrection. He is giving them some final instructions. Perhaps you notice words which I highlighted in bold in the verse above. These words leaped out at me when I was praying for direction about leaving an activity and place in my life. “Don’t leave; wait.” God was pretty clear. There’s not much room for misinterpretation. I can’t say they were the words I was hoping for; however, I can say I wasn’t overly surprised. God has given me this same answer before. You would think I would learn to stop asking. However, the “wait” part offers encouragement. It says God understands, and there will be a time when I don’t have to wait. So, I tried to be thankful for the quick answer and moved on in my reading.
As I continued, I had to chuckle at the disciples’ response to the same answer. Although I had not asked God anything else (yet), I saw some parallels to the usual responses one might get when told to wait. The disciples had been told to wait for the power of the Holy Ghost to fall. They were to remain in Jerusalem until that happened. Now from my perspective, they got more of an answer than I did. They got “Wait until. . .” All I got was “Wait.” But since they had no timeline for “until,” I guess they felt the same way I did.
In response, the disciples asked, “Is this the time when You will reestablish the kingdom and restore it to Israel?” Now, that seems like a pretty astute question, doesn’t it? But you know what I saw when I read it? Subtext. When. When, Lord? When will you establish your kingdom? When will Israel be restored? When will we get to be with you in your kingdom? When do we get what we expected? When do we get to leave Jerusalem? When?
That’s when I chuckled. Oh, I am not laughing at the disciples or God’s Word. I’m laughing at human response. I hadn’t asked God “when?” At least not today. But I have asked Him before, and I suspect before long my lack of patience will get the best of me and I’ll ask Him again? When, Lord? When you will release me? When will this go the way I expect it to go?
God must think we are awfully predictable. We are children. Isn’t that what children say to adults? If we say “no,” they ask “why.” If we say “wait,” they ask “when.” And that’s what we are doing to God.
So, how did Jesus respond to the disciples’ question? He said, “It is not for you to know.” Now, Jesus is polite. But do you wonder about his tone here? I do. Was it a soft tone of I’m sorry guys, but you really don’t need to know. Or was it more authoritative, as You do not need to know. It is up to the Father–His choice, His timing, His authority, His decision. Either way, Jesus is saying it wasn’t the disciples’ business. Thankfully, Jesus didn’t stop there.
I kept on reading. I was thinking, “Okay, Lord. I’ll wait. I’ll do what You want. It can be on Your timetable. But you realize, Lord, I can’t do this alone. You know that, right? I’ll need your help to do this.
And Jesus’ next words are “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you.” You shall receive POWER. I will receive power. Actually, I have already received this power; I just have to access it. And that power will help me to do whatever I need to do to complete the requirements I have. Whatever has felt overwhelming will be accomplished through God’s power. And that power will not only help me do the specific tasks; it will also help me be a witness for Christ. And that’s the point. That’s the bottom line. Jesus said, “You shall be My witnesses in Jerusalem and all Judea and Samaria and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts. 1:8)
So no matter where I am, what ministry or job I am doing, or what people I contact in my daily activities, I am there to be a witness. So if God says it is not time for me to leave someplace, then apparently, my witness is still needed there. Oh, it may not always be obvious how my witness is working, but it is working. If I am living out my Christian faith to the best of my ability with God’s help, then I am witnessing to people, whether I think so or not. That’s the command to Christians—to spread the Gospel. Jesus’ last words before He was taken up to heaven were “you shall be my witnesses.” So, I will wait and be a witness.
As I determined to wait, I read a little more. After Jesus was taken to heaven, it mentions what the disciples did while they were waiting. They “devoted themselves steadfastly to prayer.” (Acts 1:14) I guess I have some praying to do.
Until next time,