Jesus is has risen, and ascended up on high. Our brother is the king of kings and Lord of Lords. And he will return to judge the living and the dead, at the last resurrection.
It is this king that is at work in our midst beloved. Sovereignly working through the preaching of the Gospel. He continues to do what he came to do.
The Book of Acts starts with, “In the first book, O Theophilus, I have dealt with all that Jesus began to do and teach.” That means he was not done acting in history, leading the church in all truth. But now he was to do it through is Holy Spirit. You could call this book, the acts of the Lord Jesus Christ by his Spirit through the Apostles!
From the year 33 to 2023 – From Jerusalem to Cape Town – Jesus Christ is at work. This time not as the suffering servant, but as victorious and conquering king. The work in acts is being personally, actively, and uniquely guided and led by Jesus Christ himself. Indeed, if we look beyond Acts, it never stopped. He is still personally involved and engaged in the preaching in the building, in the gathering, and in the protection of his church, and the establishing of his kingdom on earth.
The King sits on the throne to establish his kingdom.
- The Kingdom
- The Kingdom Builder
- The Kingdom’s King is enthroned.
- The Kingdom’s King returns.
v. 6 So, when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom.” They realized that this was about the restoration of the kingdom – the kingdom of God. You would expect this too because this is what he has been talking about. verse 3 says that he was , “appearing to them during the forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God.”
He was preparing them for the coronation. But they mistake his coronation for the fulfillment of all his work. They mistook his coronation as en enthronement just over Isreal, rather then an universal enthronement.
You can hear the expectation int his question? Will it be today? Is this a question we still ask today? Or are we too busy working on our kingdoms – rather then desiring the establishing of Gods kingdom?
Jesus’ answer is cryptic. why? Because in a sense the kingdom has been restored – when the king takes his throne, but not all his subjects have been gathered. His kingdom would not reach its fulfillment until his work completed at the cross is applied to every last soul for whom he died!
He is about to receive the crown of glory and honor - the name that is above all names. But when a king is coronated it does not mean that his rule and reign is rightfully recognized by all in his kingdom. No although by virtue of his death and resurrection he has be given the name above every name, not every knee has bowed, and not every tongue has confessed yet that he is Lord to the glory of God the Father. His work is done – now the application of that work begins – until his finished work is applied to every single one whom he will call. Do you hear the call of the kingdom? Is he calling you today? Now is the time to repent and believe for we do not know if today is they day of his return!
They had no idea that God had a plan that would stretch 2000 years into the future, with individuals on continents that they knew nothing about. He was going to establish a universal kingdom as he goes to be enthroned - not just over Israel but over every people.
He says to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority.” O sometimes we would like to know. And so many Christians have pretended to know. But that is not given to us dear church. 2000 years later we still don’t know. As we pray, let your kingdom come. And we ask are you at this time going to restore the kingdom. And as we wait we witness to him and his kingdom in the power of the Holy Spirit first promised to the disciples.
The Kings builder
“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” You will receive power. As one author says, “What the Church needs today is not more programs or better stuff. We don’t need buildings, money, or man power. Not new organizations or more novel methods, but men and women filled with the Holy Spirit.”
God can use one man to turn a world upside-down. Look at men like Augustine, or Luther, or Whitfield, or Kuyper. But it is not just these, but ordinary men and womenThere is one and only one prerequisite for being and effecting witness to the gospel – and that it so be filled with the Holy Spirit.
Without Him we can do nothing. This is what Jesus means when he says in the parable of the vine, , “The one who remains in Me, and I in him, will bear much fruit. For apart from Me you can do nothing.” As Spurgeon says, “Without the Spirit of God, we can do nothing. We are as ships without the wind, branches without sap, and like coals without fire, we are useless.”
Power will be received! Where does it come from? From the Holy Spirit! For what purpose? To be witnesses! This good news of the king is the only hope for humanity, it is indescribably good news! It proclaims forgiveness of sins, and life everlasting through faith in Christ – without any merit of our own! Do you believe it?! Have you met the king? Then go and tell others about him in word and deed in the Spirit !
With millions of people waiting to hear the gospel, Jesus instructed the only ones who knew anything about it to sit and wait until he had sent them the Holy Spirit. That meant they were not to write books. They were not to go out to try to make converts. They were not to plan. They were to do nothing, but pray.
Why? Until he came, they couldn’t really do anything of value to the mission. As one author said, “Jesus had promised that he would build his church, and the mission. He could accomplish more in one moment through his Spirit than they could accomplish in 10,000 Lifetimes on their own.”
Do we still believe this? If so this will show in our prayer life showing utter dependence on his power – in our humility showing this power comes not of ourselves. In our boldness to share the gospel knowing that of God is for us who can be against us.
United with Christ by his Spirit they would carry the gospel to the ends of the earth, starting where it all began in Abrahams time, on mount Moriah where he was told to offer his only son Isaac, where the temple was to be built, where the final once for all offer was to be preached for the first time - in Jerusalem, in the temple. In this one line we have the story of the church. The holy Spirit coming upon these men, who took the gospel first to Jerusalem of which we read in chapter 2, then throughout Judea in the following chapters, then Samaria which we read about in chapter 8 then to the ends of the earth even in Rome in Acts 28.
Rather than sinking roots in Jerusalem and waiting for the world to flood in, Jesus' followers are to move on, from Jerusalem, through Judea and Samaria, and ultimately to the ends of the earth. In the old testament the nations were said to flow in, now they are commanded to go out. The apostles are just beginning their journey, not ending it. And it has not ended. We are still on this mission of the king, empowered with the Spirit to go out. To Fisantekraal, leiden, Robertson, Durbanville. To be witnesses of Jesus the king!
Witness is a key word throughout the book of acts. To witness speaks of someone who has actually seen, and heard, and believed! Someone who has been there! And in a unique way the disciples were witnesses
And what will be the nature of this journey? Yet again Jesus redirects a typical line of thinking: he launches a mission of Spirit-motivated 'witness' and conversion, not nationalistic warfare.
The kings enthronement
“And when he has said these things, as they were looking on he was lifted up and a cloud took him out of their sight.” The one who rides on the clouds. This idea is used over 70 times in the OT and in every instance it always of God. One of those times is in Daniel Chapter 7, where we read of one like the son of man who came with the clouds of heaven, “and to him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages should serve him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass way, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed (Daniel 7:14).” Dear church, the fulfillment of that scene is what we are looking at today.
Notice also he was taken up. This was something done to Jesus by God the Father. The Father only forty days before had turned his face away in manner of speaking, but now he was giving his son the glory which he had with him before the creation of the world.
To Jesus Christ was given dominion and glory and a kingdom. And all people, nations and languages will serve him. This is not a fairy tale. This is reality. This is more real then anything – because everything exists for him, through him, and to him! He has entered into eternal glory – and necuase of that our future is eternally safe!
The eternal kingdom of righteousness and justice that belongs to David’s son as been established. And from that place of ultimate power, and glory, amd might, he is sovereignly building and establishing this kingdom on earth. Yes even today!
Verse 9, “He was lifted up and a cloud took him out of their sight.” He was lifted up could be used in two way. He was lifted up spatially into heaven, but he was also lifted up as king over all things. All power and authority have been given to him. He said so himself. He is going to take his rightful place upon the throne of the universe. That is what the ascension is all about, and he is taking the spoils of war with him – millions of souls from every tongue, tribe, nation and language, which he has won through his life suffering and death.
And as Jesus reigns from heaven his disciple’s ministry is not to stand there looking up but to prepare for his return by heralding the Gospel.
The kings Return
You can see them standing there. Like watching an airplane until its completely out of sight, and then still straining to see if you can see it. Ver 11 says, “And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes,.” the word speaks here of straining of the eyes. He passed from their vision. And they were so busy standing looking into heaven that they must not have noticed the two men in white. The test seems to imply they are standing there with them. We don’t know who they are. Many people think they were angels, since the angels at the tomb are also described in this way. Others think Moses And Elijah because of the similarities that we have here and with the mount of transfiguration. But the text doesn’t say.
“Men of Galilea, why do you stand looking up? standing there straining their eyes was not going to bring Jesus back. Why are you looking up? The Christian is not to stand all day and wait for Jesus to come come – we wait for Christ returning by working toward his return. We are not here to stand staring into heaven. No there is work to do. He had promised he would come back at the appointed time. Therefore, as one commentator says, “instead of stupidly and idly gazing after one who was no longer visible, they should rather show their love to him by instantly obeying his farewell commands, and trusting his repeated promise to return.”
For as we read, “This Jesus, who was taking from you into heaven will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.” The verb for saw here speaks of a public event. From the Greek word we get the word theater. Everyone will see him. Physically come back. But till that day we are called to witness to the ends of the earth in the power of the Spirit.
In prayer and the Spirit these witnesses would stand before kings and governors, they would be flogged, imprisoned, stoned, mistreated. They would follow in the footsteps of the exalted king of glory, as he personally, actively, and uniquely guides them. And dear church we still have the testimony of these witnesses, and this gospel is carried out by each one. Disciples of Jesus are called to be disciple makers.
You do this in your everyday life dear children of God. Just as Christ met people where they were. We don’t wait for them to come to the feast, we must invite them! Jesus realized what many Christians today still don't seem to understand. Harvesters have to get out in the field. According to one count, the gospels record 132 contacts that Jesus had with people. Six were in the Temple, four in the synagogues and 122 were out with the people in the mainstream of life. This is amazing. That is why I am thankful for every job, every classroom, every sports field, every street corner where you this week, every relationship which God is putting on your path, so that you might carry the good news of the king to those places. In word and deed.
This is our task this is our call until he comes again to judge the living and the dead.