Don’t STOP now!! The Story of Jesus isn’t over!
Let’s take the next few weeks to read The Sequel and The Finale!
We’ll wrap it up on Ascension Day (May 14)!
April 8, Wednesday
I am compelled to offer you this historical supplement to my previous work which provided an orderly record of the life and teachings of Jesus. As you will soon see, His story continues.
After Jesus’ suffering and death He showed Himself to His followers, leaving no doubt in their minds that He had, in fact, risen from the dead. This was no one-time apparition. He appeared many times over the next forty days and discussed with them matters related to the Kingdom of God.
During one of their last meals together, Jesus specifically instructed His disciples to stay in Jerusalem and wait until the Holy Spirit came, initiating them into their new life. “Remember My Father’s promise to you,” He told them. “John used to baptize with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”
The disciples, trying to figure out what that meant, asked, “Lord, does that mean You are ready to restore the Kingdom to Israel now?”
“I’ve told you before that only the Father knows when He plans to bring an end to the current era,” Jesus explained. “The purpose for sending the Spirit is to empower you as My chosen witnesses. You will carry My Message from here in Jerusalem throughout Judea and Samaria, and then to the far corners of the earth.”
Jesus had barely finished this commission when He began to ascend up into the clouds. The disciples stood staring up to where He had disappeared from sight. Suddenly someone was standing beside them on the Mount of Olives who asked, “Men of Galilee, why are you standing here looking up into the sky? This very Jesus Who has been taken up from you into Heaven will come back in just the same way as you have seen Him go.” They turned to see two men in dazzling white robes.
What to do now? The eleven disciples, Peter, John, James, Andrew, Philip, Thomas, Bartholomew, Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus, Simon the Patriot, and Judas the son of James, returned the half-mile to Jerusalem and gathered in the upper room where they had been staying. Every day they met in the temple together with several of the women who had followed Jesus, and also Jesus’ brothers and his mother Mary. For the next ten days they devoted themselves to waiting on the Lord in prayer.
At one point Peter stood to make a proposal. To the assembled company of one hundred twenty followers he said, “My brothers, we have witnessed the fulfillment of the prophecy of Scripture given through the Holy Spirit by the lips of David. Judas, who was counted as one of us and ministered alongside us, betrayed Jesus that night in the garden when he led the troops there to arrest Him. We know what happened to him: the field bought with his blood money and his own life ending there in disgrace. All of Jerusalem is aware of it and calls the place Akel dama or ‘Field of Blood.’
“The Psalmist also declared, ‘Let his home be abandoned, so that no one lives there,’ and ‘Let someone else fill his position.’ In light of that,” Peter concluded, “we need to choose a successor. It has to be someone who has been alongside us faithfully the whole time, from the day the Lord Jesus was baptized right up to a few days ago when He was taken up from us. The man we choose must also be an eye-witness of the Lord’s resurrection.”
Two of the men present fit those qualifications so they set before them Joseph, who was called Barsabbas by some and Justus by others, and Matthias. Then they prayed, “O Lord, You alone know the hearts of all. Show us which of these You have chosen to fill the role which Judas, the traitor, abandoned in order to go where he belongs.” Then they cast lots and it fell to Matthias who from then on was counted among the apostles along with the original Eleven.