Jesus appeared to His disciples enough times over a period of forty days that all of them became convinced that He had risen from the dead. They were not just having visions, and no one was impersonating Jesus. The apostle Paul informs us in his letter to the Corinthians that Jesus once appeared to over five hundred people at one time (see 1 Corinthians 15:6)!
First, it was Jesus’ plan that His disciples would soon begin to take the gospel to the whole world, and He wanted them to begin in Jerusalem and Judea. Because most of the people living in those places were Jews, it was important for Jesus’ disciples to understand the many messianic scriptures in the Old Testament so they could prove that He was the promised Messiah. Jesus said that there were things written about Him in Moses’ books, the first five books of the Bible, as well as in the books of the prophets and Psalms. He then opened their minds to understand those many scriptures.
Second, it was important that Jesus’ disciples proclaim the message Jesus wanted proclaimed. So He made it very clear to them. They should tell people that He had suffered, died and risen three days later. Now, forgiveness of sins was being offered to anyone who would repent of his sins, and believe in Him. That is the message Jesus still wants us to proclaim.
Finally, Jesus knew His disciples needed supernatural help to be successful in proclaiming the gospel and making disciples. So He promised to send them the Holy Spirit so they would be filled with power. Just a few days later, the Holy Spirit came suddenly upon one hundred and twenty of Jesus’ disciples, and they all began speaking in foreign languages, speaking of the wonderful things God had done. This was a sign that got the attention of a lot of people in Jerusalem, and as a result, three thousand people turned to the Lord, many of whom were foreign visitors. This miracle of speaking in other languages was also probably a reminder to Jesus’ disciples that the Holy Spirit was being given to them because God loves every different ethnic group, and God wants the gospel taken to all of them.
The story of Jesus’ life and ministry certainly doesn’t end with His ascension into heaven. In fact, Luke began the book of Acts by stating that his Gospel was only an account of everything Jesus “began to do and teach” (Acts 1:1, emphasis added). Jesus continued to work after His ascension by using His people. Jesus is still working today through everyone who believes in Him, and the most wonderful thing in the entire world is to be used by God.
Q. Jesus’ disciples asked Him, “Lord, are you going to free Israel now and restore our kingdom?” (Acts 1:6). What were they hoping for and why were they hoping for it?
A. It was foretold in the Old Testament that a time would come when the Messiah would rule over Israel on David’s throne. During that messianic age, Israel would become an exalted nation, but when the disciples asked Jesus their question, Israel was under the domination of the Roman Empire. Because the disciples believed that Jesus was the promised Messiah, they expected that Jesus would soon usher in the promised age. Jesus, however, knew that the kingdom age was still a long time away. There was still much to be done before then. Because Jesus’ kingdom was not a political but a spiritual kingdom, it was first necessary that people submit to Him, the King. That would occur as the disciples proclaimed the gospel. Then, according to God’s predetermined plan, Jesus will one day rule the world from Jerusalem.
Application: Two angels promised Jesus’ disciples that He would return to the earth just as He had departed from the earth. That promise hasn’t been fulfilled yet, or you can be sure we’d know it! But it will come to pass! We should live every day of our lives in anticipation of that day.