February 1, 2011
Acts 1 begins a new chapter in the Christian church–the post-Jesus era. The author is Luke, historian and physician extraordinaire who, given these occupations, has a knack and hunger for detail.
He writes to Theophilus (literally, ‘lover of God’)(Acts 1:1), who is likely a Roman soldier inquiring about the Christian faith. I wonder if Theophilus knew what he was in for when he asked Luke to give an account!
Acts 1:1-8: Famous Last Words
After Jesus’ resurrection from the dead (Luke 24:1-12), Jesus spent the next 40 days showing proof of his resurrection and teaching them about the Kingdom of God. Even those who saw Jesus needed convincing that this man before them was actually Jesus.
Like many today, the disciples were concerned about the end times and what Christ would do next–and when!
6So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” 7He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority.”
Jesus made it clear throughout His 3 1/2 year ministry that no one knows the time of His return, or really the timing of anything regarding how He will have history play out. While many spend a great deal of time working through the numbers and the symbolism found in Scripture, Jesus tells us on more than one occasion that it’s not for us to know.
What are we to know? “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” (Acts 1:8). This matter should consume the Christian–being witnesses and testifying in the power of the Spirit whom He has sent to us (and promised to them–which would happen a scant 10 days from then). Even when Jesus ascended to the Father, angels were sent to hurry them on their way to the next appointed session–waiting on the Lord for His promised Holy Spirit.
Acts 1:12-26: Replacing Judas
Judas betrayed Jesus–and he was one of their disciples! Here comes the conundrum for many believers.
15In those days Peter stood up among the brothers (the company of persons was in all about 120) and said, 16“Brothers, the Scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit spoke beforehand by the mouth of David concerning Judas, who became a guide to those who arrested Jesus. 17For he was numbered among us and was allotted his share in this ministry.” 18(Now this man acquired a field with the reward of his wickedness, and falling headlong he burst open in the middle and all his bowels gushed out. 19And it became known to all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, so that the field was called in their own language Akeldama, that is, Field of Blood.)
Judas was held accountable for betraying the Son of God, yet Peter conveys that God prophesied that this would happen 1000 years prior in Psalm 41:9 from King David himself.
How do we reconcile this? Peter didn’t have much trouble, nor should we. This prophecy helped them understand that Judas’ treachery was not a random act and that God had not lost control of the wheel. God used Judas as an instrument for Christ’s deliverance to the Jewish authorities. We have to go by what is clear to inform us in regards to what is unclear.
Another interesting note from here: this is the last time we hear of Mary, the mother of Jesus (Acts 1:14). Whereas some denominations hold Mary as a centerpiece, even a co-redemptrix, to their faith, she is notedly absent from the rest of Scripture. One wonders, if she is truly this critical to the warp and woof of the Christian faith, wouldn’t she have been mentioned at some point in the following 27 chapters of Acts, the epistles, and Revelation?
Through prayer and the casting of lots, Matthias was chosen to replace Judas–and we never hear from him again. Could it be that the apostle Paul would serve in that role (Acts 9:15-16)?
What are some reflections you have?