Read Acts 1
Jesus Taken Up Into Heaven
1 In my former book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach 2 until the day he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles he had chosen. 3 After his suffering, he presented himself to them and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God. 4 On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about.5 For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”
6 Then they gathered around him and asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?”
7 He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
9 After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight.
10 They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. 11 “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.”
Matthias Chosen to Replace Judas
12 Then the apostles returned to Jerusalem from the hill called the Mount of Olives, a Sabbath day’s walk from the city. 13 When they arrived, they went upstairs to the room where they were staying. Those present were Peter, John, James and Andrew; Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew; James son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot, and Judas son of James.14 They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers.
15 In those days Peter stood up among the believers (a group numbering about a hundred and twenty) 16 and said, “Brothers and sisters, the Scripture had to be fulfilled in which the Holy Spirit spoke long ago through David concerning Judas, who served as guide for those who arrested Jesus.17 He was one of our number and shared in our ministry.”
18 (With the payment he received for his wickedness, Judas bought a field; there he fell headlong, his body burst open and all his intestines spilled out. 19 Everyone in Jerusalem heard about this, so they called that field in their language Akeldama, that is, Field of Blood.)
20 “For,” said Peter, “it is written in the Book of Psalms:
“‘May his place be deserted;
let there be no one to dwell in it,’
“‘May another take his place of leadership.’
21 Therefore it is necessary to choose one of the men who have been with us the whole time the Lord Jesus was living among us, 22 beginning from John’s baptism to the time when Jesus was taken up from us. For one of these must become a witness with us of his resurrection.”
23 So they nominated two men: Joseph called Barsabbas (also known as Justus) and Matthias. 24 Then they prayed, “Lord, you know everyone’s heart. Show us which of these two you have chosen 25 to take over this apostolic ministry, which Judas left to go where he belongs.” 26 Then they cast lots, and the lot fell to Matthias; so he was added to the eleven apostles.
Is the book of Acts the start of a new section in the story of Scripture, or a continuation of the Gospels? The answer is probably yes. Yes, the book of Acts ushers in a brand-new season for the disciples. In this chapter, we see that Jesus leaves them and commissions them to start the Church. However, He doesn’t leave them all alone. He promised that God would give them the gift of His Holy Spirit. So while Jesus was leaving, He was also going to be present in a new way. With this in mind, yes, the book of Acts is really just a continuation of the Gospels. The Good News will continue to advance and Jesus will still be changing lives. The main difference is that the disciples are now empowered to go out and change the world when Jesus isn’t physically present. You can almost feel their uneasiness and nervousness as they stand staring into the sky in verses 10 and 11. Jesus has left them and they have no idea what to do next. In their confusion, two angels appear and ask them, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand here looking into the sky?” For many of us, in times of uncertainty, we can’t help but stand and stare as we try to take it all in. As we read this chapter, we can be encouraged that even in times of dramatic change, we are still empowered to go out and live with a mission. We don’t have to stand and wait for directions. The directions have already been given. Go and make disciples of all nations! As the chapters unfold in the book of Acts, we’ll see that’s exactly what the disciples will do.
What are some things you notice the disciples doing in the second half of the chapter, after Jesus has left?
When the disciples asked if Jesus was now going to restore the kingdom of Israel, why do you think that Jesus told them that was not for them to know? Why does He leave them in the dark?
What do you notice about Peter’s leadership in this chapter? How has he changed from the moment he denied Jesus?
Did You Know?
Casting lots was a traditional way of determining God’s will. This is the last instance of casting lots recorded in Scripture, because once the believers received the Holy Spirit, they were able to follow the Spirit as a guide instead.