KEY TEXT (ACTS 1:4-8, LUKE 24;49-50)
Last words are always important, especially from our dear ones.
Having been with Jesus for three and half solid years, the disciples received many farewell sermons and messages from Him. In His last days on earth, Jesus discussed many important things with the disciples as a way of departure. The most important and crucial of Christ’s final messages was that they should not go anywhere but tarry and wait in Jerusalem for the promise of the Father before being unleashed into the world to transform it.
In other words, the Apostles were to wait in Jerusalem before the spirit of God was unleashed upon them and then to unleash them into the world.
The Holy Spirit has given us the power (Acts 1:8) and released us to go and make disciples of all nations.
EMPHASIS ON JESUS’ LAST WORDS
Reading from the New Testament, five books in the gospels remind us of the last words of Christ.
From the perspective of the Gospels, we see the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, as well as Luke’s writings in the second account found in the first chapter of the book of Acts of the Apostles. All these five books are seen as the final and the last words of Jesus.
Let’s examine Jesus’ last words from the books mentioned in all five areas.
From Mark’s point of view, we can appreciate that Jesus asked the Apostles to preach the gospel to all the world, and conversion will have a demonstrable impact. This is seen in the transforming of the world, found in the Lord’s last words of commission (Mark 16:15-20) as emphasized in ‘believe and be baptized,” and signs shall follow the believers.
Understanding from Matthew, the last words of Jesus tend to focus on discipleship. Here, Jesus told them to make disciples of “all nations” and to teach them all he had commanded. Jesus admonished them clearly to preach and teach the Word and also teach the new convert, thereby making the convert obedient to the values and principles of the Kingdom.
Conversely, in Luke’s gospel, the Apostles were expected to depend entirely upon Him until he returned. The last words in Luke’s gospel can be broken down into reliance, diligence, and expansion.
Consequently, in the book of Acts, Christ’s words are echoed to the Apostles after He revealed Himself to them. He admonished them to wait upon Him to empower them to be witnesses to Himself, to move from the city of Jerusalem and Samaria to the Gentiles, and then to possess the whole world through the gospel.
In John’s gospel, the last words of Jesus centred on dedication, shepherding and love. Jesus asked Peter three times, “If you love me, then keep my sheep.”
We can summarize the last words of Jesus from Mark’s Gospel, highlighting Commission and Demonstration. Luke’s Gospel also touched on Relief and Reliance. In John’s Gospel, we find words of Care and Consecration; from Matthew, we see words of Command and Discipleship.
THE CHURCH HAS WAITED JUST AS THE APOSTLES TARRIED
“‘And, behold, I send the promise of My Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high.’ And He led them out as far as to Bethany, and He lifted His hands, and blessed them” Luke 24:49,50.
The New Testament Church waited and received the power. Many Christians today, especially Pentecostals, have received the power of the Holy Spirit through prayer, laying on of hands, and personal experience in prayer and fasting. The residence of the Holy Spirit has brought many gifts and graces to believers.
In the past five years, The Church of Pentecost has been teaching about equipping and nurturing the church members through prayers and intentional programmes, and it is time to enter the world.
Jesus told the disciples to wait for the Holy Spirit to come. Ten days after His ascension to heaven, at Pentecost, the Holy Spirit came, Acts 2:12–26. The disciples waited in meditation, fasting, and prayer. Waiting upon God brings divine strength and abilities to penetrate the world to make an impact and transform it.
OLD TESTAMENT EXAMPLES WHO WAITED
- From the Old Testament, Noah waited for seven more days in the Ark before he sent a dove out. (Genesis 8-10).
- Daniel also waited twenty-one days before he received an answer to his petition (Daniel 10:2).
- Nehemiah waited for four solid months before God answered his prayer about Jerusalem (Nehemiah 1:1 and 2:1)
- Joseph waited two more years (Genesis 41:1) before the butler remembered him.
- Sarah also waited decades before having a child. God always expects us to wait on him for guidance and direction.
THE POWER THAT CAME UPON THEM UNLEASHED THEM INTO THE WORLD
Consider carefully the scripture, “…Daily in the temple, and every house, they did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ” (Acts 5:42).
The Apostles were poised to enter the world after the Holy Spirit came with power, gifts, and many graces. They were unleashed and released from the Upper Room to go and transform the whole world through the power of the Holy Spirit.
Many church members today must accept and believe that praying in tongues alone is not enough. They must enter the world, whether in the circular or any institution, where they find themselves transforming their spheres with the values and principles of the Kingdom of God, thereby transforming their world for the Lord.
In the Book of Acts, the good news spread like fire that has caught flames in a bush during dry season commencing from Peter’s message converting 3000 people (Acts 2:41), having given another speech doubled the number to 5000 (Acts 4:4).
After a short while, probably in a decade, the gospel message of Jesus Christ blew out from the environs of Jerusalem to the entire Mediterranean, including Rome. But it appears that spreading the gospel today to transform the world is in the low focus. Christians must be unleashed into the nations to remind the world about the good news of the Kingdom of God.
THE CONSEQUENTIAL SPREAD OF THE WORD AFTER THE UNLEASHING OF THE APOSTLE
The City of Jerusalem (Acts 1:1, 6:7)
- Jesus was taken up to heaven by God.
- Peter and John preached the Good News of the Kingdom.
- Jerusalem church established.
The Gospel then reaches Judea, Galilee, and Samaria (Acts 6:8 to 9:31)
- As stated in Acts 1:8, the gospel continues from Judea to Samaria.
- Persecution of Stephen the deacon or the evangelist.
- Deacon Philip also embarks on his ministry to evangelize.
Then, the church had rest throughout all Judea, Galilee, and Samaria. Going on and built up in the fear of the Lord and the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it continued to increase” (Acts 9:31).
Peter preached in Antioch, Joppa, and Syria while a Church was established.
God, through Apostle Paul, spread the Gospel to Cyprus and regions and Galatia during his first missionary journey (Acts 13:4).
- Meeting in Jerusalem.
- Apostle Paul’s second missionary journey in Cyprus, Pisidia, and Jerusalem (Acts 15:36).
- “So, the churches were established in the faith and increased in number daily” (Acts 16:5).
The Gospel then spread from Macedonia, Achaia through to Asia (Acts 16:6 to 19:20)
- Apostle Paul embarks on his journey from Syria to Macedonia.
- Lydia and the jailer who wanted to kill himself while Paul and Silas were in prison get converted and join the church in Philippi, hence the creation of the church in Philippi.
- Paul begins his third missionary journey (Acts 18:23), and Apollos also embarks on his missionary journey after he spent two years teaching in Ephesus.
The analysis above demonstrates powerfully how the Apostles were unleashed to bring the Gospel outside Jerusalem to all other parts of the world. Christians today must also endeavour to do the same. We must move out from the church auditorium and go to the schools, marketplaces, hospitals, ghettos, supermarkets, prisons, etc., to transform it for Christ through the power of the gospel.
To conclude, we can see that the gospel of Luke is monumental in reminding the promise in Acts, telling the disciples to wait for the promise from the Father. It is a watershed moment in the life of the early church, which led to the birth of the missionaries, in other words, the Apostles, to deliver the gospel message to all the nations, starting from Judea to the uttermost part of the world (Matthew 28:18-20).
In the first seven chapters of the Book of Acts, we see the spread of the gospel after the disciples had waited and received the power of the Holy Ghost. Peter’s sermon at Pentecost, the healing of the lame beggar by Peter and John (5:42), the daily addition of souls to the church, and bringing the gospel to the Gentiles, Rome, the Mediterranean, and finally to Africa and Europe, and ultimately to the end of the world, came about through the unleashing of the Holy Spirit.
Written by Overseer Emmanuel Owusu (Mpasaso District – Tepa Area)