286 - The Disciples’ Commission and Jesus’ Ascension
OCTOBER 13 - Nº 286 Matthew 28:16-20; Luke 24:44-53; Acts 1:1-14; 1 Corinthians 15:6-7
After he had risen from the dead, Jesus spent 40 days on the earth. During this time, he appeared to many people. One of them was James, the oldest of his half-brothers. James and his siblings had previously doubted Jesus’ deity and his sanity (see Mark 3:21). But James’ life was dramatically changed that day when Jesus visited him! He later wrote the book of James calling himself “a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ” (see James 1:1). Jesus also appeared to a crowd of over 500 people at the same time. However, most of Jesus’ remaining days on earth were spent teaching his disciples about their new responsibilities as apostles. (An ‘apostle’ was more than a ‘disciple.’ The word ‘apostle’ means ‘sent one.’ These men were commissioned by God to spread the Gospel message.) At one point, Jesus instructed them to meet him on a mountain in Galilee. They waited for him there, and when he appeared they worshiped him. He told them, “God has given me all the authority that is in heaven and on earth. Now I am commissioning you to go as my ambassadors to all the nations. Your purpose is to make disciples who will follow and obey me. You are to baptize them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and you are to teach them to obey everything that I have taught you. I promise that I will always be with you until the very end of this age.” Another time, while he was eating with his apostles, he gave them this command, “After I am gone, do not leave Jerusalem. Wait there for the gift my Father has promised to send. I have already told you about it. When John the Baptist was here, he baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” They were excited and started asking questions. “Is this the time when you are going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” they wanted to know. They were still thinking God might establish His earthly kingdom during their lifetime and give them a major role in it. Jesus answered, “This is not something you need to know. The times and dates are under God’s control. But meanwhile, you are to be my witnesses and spread the Gospel message in Jerusalem, in all of Judea and Samaria, and even to the farthest places on the earth. When the Holy Spirit comes, He will give you the power to do this.” Jesus led his eleven disciples (now apostles) to the Mount of Olives to a place near Bethany. He lifted his hands and blessed them. While he was blessing them, he began ascending into heaven. Soon he was hidden in a cloud. The apostles stood there staring up at the sky. Suddenly two men dressed in white appeared beside them. “Men of Galilee,” they said. “Why are you standing here staring at the sky? Jesus has been taken back into heaven. One day he will return in the same way you just saw him leave.” The 11 apostles walked back to Jerusalem filled with joy. They returned to the upstairs room where they had met before and soon were joined by others—including Jesus’ mother and his brothers! They prayed as they waited for God to send the Holy Spirit.
The apostles had been through a lot. But their work was only just beginning! Their task was to spread the Gospel message to the whole world: “Jesus died on the cross as a payment for our sins. Now he is alive!” It is our job to continue sharing this message until Jesus returns! Is Jesus happy with the work you are doing?