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ACTS 1:9-14

JESUS' GLORIOUS ASCENSION BACK TO HEAVEN!

"And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight. And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven. Then returned they unto Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is from Jerusalem a sabbath day's journey. And when they were come in, they went up into an upper room, where abode both Peter, and James, and John, and Andrew, Philip, and Thomas, Bartholomew, and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon Zelotes, and Judas the brother of James. These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren."

 

 A Preacher in his Study

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

LESSON 1, INTRODUCTION:

It's the least studied aspect of Jesus' Life!

Far less noticed than our Lord's Virgin Birth!

Or His vicarious Death on the Cross!

Or certainly His Recurrection!

I'm talking abut Jesus' Ascension back to Heaven!

That will be our Subject for the next few days, the Lord willing.

And our Text will be, mainly, Acts 1:9-14.

"And when He had spoken these things, while they beheld, He was taken up; and a cloud received Him out of their sight. And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen Him go into heaven. Then returned they unto Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is from Jerusalem a sabbath day's journey. And when they were come in, they went up into an upper room, where abode both Peter, and James, and John, and Andrew, Philip, and Thomas, Bartholomew, and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon Zelotes, and Judas the brother of James. These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren."

Jesus has gone back to Heaven!

Gloriously so!

Literally so!

Yet Matthew, in his whole Gospel, does not mention this great Event!

Nor does John, of all people!

Mark does, albeit briefly. "So then after the Lord had spoken unto them, He was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God." Mark 16:19

And Luke? Almost equally reticent! "And Jesus led them out as far as to Bethany, and He lifted up His hands, and blessed them. And it came to pass, while He blessed them, He was parted from them, and carried up into heaven. And they worshipped Him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy." Luke 24:50-52

Without the Acts 1:9-14 Account, we sure would be lacking in some critical details, for sure!

The word "ascension" does not occur in the Bible. But the concept certainly does. It, "ascendere" in Latin, means "to go up!"

Tomorrow, Lord willing, we are going to notice four different words Luke uses in Acts 1, all describing the Ascension!

Then we are going to settle in and study our Text, verse by verse. Again, that's Acts 1:9-14.

This Event may not be as exciting as the Cross, or certainly the Resurrection, but is is a necessary Truth!

It's how Jesus returned to Glory, back to His Father, to live victoriously! That is, until the time for His Second Coming!

The Ascension, the very first time ever that a Man went into Heaven! The God-Man for sure, yet a Man with "flesh and bones." Luke 24:39

A Man with hands and feet and legs and arms, although scarred in places!

We now have a Representative in Heaven!

At God the Father's Right Hand!

One Who knows how we feel!

One Who prays for us, too!

Jesus!

Ascended to Heaven!

Jesus, Who is our Head, the very Head of the Church, the Head of the Body of Christ, our corporate Head ... is already right now in Heaven!

Literally!

And if our Head is already there, that's a pretty good sign that you and I are going to end up there too, some day!

Because, after all, where a person's head goes, his or her body is soon to follow!

Jesus' Ascension is the very Guarantee that, in time, every member of His Body, will join Him there in front of the Throne of God!

Yes, we serve and adore and worship an ascended Lord and Saviour!

Exalted by God!

So much so that Paul wrote, largely concerning Jesus' Ascension: "Wherefore God also hath highly exalted Him, and given Him a Name which is above every name: that at the Name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." Philippians 2:9-11

One Preacher wrote a Book and entitled it: "Jesus, our Man in Heaven!"

My Lawyer, My Advocate, my Spokesman, my Saviour, sitting in the very courtroom of Heaven, right by the Judge's Side!

And, remember this, our Lawyer, Jesus, is the Judge's favorite Son, too!

That fact can't hurt a thing, can it?

That old accuser, the devil, does not have a chance to harm us, then!

Because of our ascended Lord!

Praise His good Name!

                                                                        --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 2, THOSE FOUR VERBS:

Jesus ascended to Heaven!

And Dr. Luke, in Acts 1:9-14, explains that monumental Event with four verbs. Here they are, underlined and capitalized.

"And when Jesus had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight. And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven. Then returned they unto Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is from Jerusalem a sabbath day's journey. And when they were come in, they went up into an upper room, where abode both Peter, and James, and John, and Andrew, Philip, and Thomas, Bartholomew, and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon Zelotes, and Judas the brother of James. These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren."

In order, those verbs are "epairo" or "taken up." Really derived from "airo," the meaning is "lifted up," in the passive voice nonetheless! Here Jesus did not make Himself "ascend," God the Father did! "Raptured" to Heaven, literally so!

Secondly comes "hupolambano," translated "received," what the "cloud" did to Jesus! "And a cloud received Him out of their sight." This presents the idea of our Lord being "taken under" by that Cloud! As if that Cloud, likely the very Shekinah Glory of God, the precise Cloud from the Wilderness wanderings of ancient Israel, actually swept down underneath our Lord, transporting Him to Glory!

Then there is "went up," standing for "poreuomai," suggesting a "journey" one is "pursuing," and that "from start to finish!" The Ascension Route is compared to a "roadway!" A heavenly "pathway" to follow! Much like an airliner nowadays lands on a fogy day, literally following an electronic beam shot from the ground into the air, at just the right landing angle! It's called a glide scope beam, giving the pilot both the proper rate of descent and the exact centerline approach to the runway! And yes, Jesus "stayed on course," all the way to Heaven!

Fourthly is that last "taken up," spelled "analambano." It means "fetched, grabbed, seized," and "lifted upward!" This is different from "hupolambano," very much so! There Jesus is "swept up" to Heaven! Here He is also, like iron shavings pulled by a giant elecro-magnet, our dear Lord was powerfully drawn Heavenward! Omnipotently so! And this "tug" easily overcame gravity, obviously! 

That last "go" is "poreuomai" again, so it is not a new verb at all, merely a repetition. So, I did not even mark it.

Four stages of Action, all involved in getting Jesus back Home!

Here they are, in review.

"Lifted up!"

"Swept up!" Or  "scooped up," maybe that's better.

"Following a course," a precise pathway!

Then finally, "tugged to Glory," by an invisible and awesome attraction!

God's unlimited Power, described from every angle!

Involved in Jesus' Ascension!

Every bit as miraculous as His coming to earth as a baby!

As His Virgin Birth!

And every it as important, too!

Because His Life in Heaven, for us this very second, is essential to our spiritual well-being!

Doubt this?

Read Paul in Romans 5:10. "For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life."

Wow!

Look again at those last few words! "Much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life."

His very Life, in Heaven now, his current minute by minute Ministry there on our behalf, "saves" us to the uttermost! That's what Paul just said! I can't change his words, nor do I want to!

Jesus, ascended!

Jesus, alive!

Saving, delivering, protecting, interceding, overseeing you and me from His mighty, exalted, Right-Hand Position, directly by the very Throne of God!

Praise be to Him!

Our Ascended Lord!

                                                                      --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 3, VERSE 9:

It is as clear a statement of the Lord's Ascension as we have in the whole Bible. That is, if taken literally.

"And when He had spoken these things, while they beheld, He was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight." Acts 1:9

Jesus, after His Resurrection, remained on earth for forty more days. We know this because His Death occurred at Passover. And Pentecost, which was fifty days after Passover, was the day on which the Holy Spirit descended, Acts 2 style! Fifty days, ten of which the 120 Believers had been "in one mind and accord" in that upper room, praying and worshipping the Lord. Those ten days were spent there in Jerusalem in obedience to the ascending Jesus' last instructions.

Now, let's do the math. Fifty days minus ten days equal forty days! Jesus appeared at will to select followers of His, for nearly six weeks! Before going back to heaven!

But, then, after those forty days ... "And when He had spoken these things, while they beheld, He was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight." Acts 1:9

Let's consider a couple of the key words in our verse for today. "While they beheld," the clause proves there were eyewitnesses to our Lord's Ascension! Unlike His Resurrection, which no one viewed as it happened, His rise to Heaven was a relatively public Event!

So will His literal return to earth be public! "Every eye shall see Him," proclaims John in Revelation 1:7. "Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen."

The verb "beheld" translates "blepo," meaning "to see with discernment, to take heed!"

At first the see Jesus!

He is then "taken up," spelled "epairo" in Greek, "lifted up" by a Power outside Himself! Hoisted to Heaven! Snatched away! Raptured!

The same God Who "raised Him from the dead" also "took Him" back to Heaven, at just the right time!

The noun "cloud" is "nephele," as opposed to "nephos." The textbooks say that "nephos" is more general in definition, a mass of clouds all blending together! While "nephele" speaks of a definite cloud, a specific cloud, with definable shape and distinguishable features!

This well may be the Old testament Shekinah Glory Cloud, too! The Cloud that led Israel through the wilderness! The Cloud that filled the Temple the day Solomon dedicated it! The Cloud that departed from backslidden Jerusalem during Ezekiel's ministry!

It is a sign of the very Presence of Almighty God!

If so, in a sense, God came down to get His Beloved Son, His Victorious Son, His obedient Son, escorting Him back to Heaven!

Wow!

"And when He had spoken these things, while they beheld, He was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight." Acts 1:9

"Received Him," if you remember, is "hupolambano," sort of "escorted Him from underneath!" As if God's Omnipotent Hand scooped down under Jesus, and exalted Him all the way to Heaven!

Excuse me, "Wow" again!

Then, immediately, Jesus has disappeared!

He, even to the eyewitnesses, is now "out of their sight!"

"Apo autos ophthalmos."

A prepostion ("apo" meaning from, away from) and a possessive pronoun ("autos" meaning the witnesses) and a noun ("ophthalmos," our word "ophthalmologist," an eye doctor). At base, "ophthalmos" just means the human "eye."

The verse begins with Jesus in plain sight.

It ends, a few short words later, with Jesus gone to Heaven! Now physically unseen!

He ascended!

There in Glory to do His great Work as High Priest to His Children, every born-again child of God who ever lived, or is alive today! Or will ever live!

Amen!

Like the old Preacher said, "Jesus, our Man in Heaven!"

Talk to Him today!

Let Him help you, hour by hour!

                                                                    --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 4, VERSE 10:

What do you do when your Lord is suddenly "taken away," lifted up into Heaven?

Jesus' disciples, for over three years, nearly non-stop, had been with Jesus, by His side.

But recent events, the Lord's Death and Burial and subsequent Resurrection, had rearranged everything!

Now, in addition to everything else, Jesus has gone!

The situation is so critical that God the Father apparently dispatches two "angels," maybe?

"And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; which also said ..." Acts 1:10

The subject of our verse, "they," refers to the followers of Jesus who were present at His Ascension.

Observers of His literally being carried upward!

Eyewitnesses!

Yet Matthew did not say a word about it, in all his twenty-eight chapters! Neither did John, of all people!

The Gospels of Luke and Mark do, however. But neither of these men could have been "eyewitnesses," yet both wrote using very reliable sources. Luke was not one of the Twelve, nor was Mark.

Jesus ascended!

What would you have done that day?

Your Lord gradually disappearing, rising upward, a somewhat slower version of Elijah's translation to Glory!

We would have done exactly what the disciples did, "They looked stedfastly toward heaven as he went up."

The verb "looked steadfastly" is built with two Greek verbs, actually a verb and a participle. It says they "were looking steadfastly." The verb "eimi" is included, as an indicative imperfect. Had they not been interrupted, they would have kept on looking, for an undetermined amount of time!

Add here the verb "atenizo," literally meaning "to stretch" one's attention toward someone! To, so to speak, "glue" one's eyes on something! Twice the Bible has it "to fasten" one's eyes on a subject!

Gazing intently!

Unable to look away!

Literally "looking unto Jesus," Hebrews 12:2 style!

"Toward" Heaven uses the little preposition "eis," actually meaning "into" Heaven!

Lesson: Keep your eyes on the Lord!

At least until He says otherwise!

Now, "two men" appear, with instructions! "And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; which also said ..." Acts 1:10

These "men" arrest our attention!

Luke uses the imperative "behold!"

"Idou" means "Look, See, Listen!" It is even translated "Lo" 29 times in the New Testament, introducing an element of surprise!

Unexpectedly these "men" appear!

It has been historically thought, by preachers and teachers and Bible students through the ages, that these "men" were angels.

This certainly may be the case, but the Text does not specifically say that!

The word "men," spelled "aner," means the male of the species. These were not ladies. Best I can remember, angels in the Bible are always portrayed as men, too. Can anyone think of an exception?

Oh well, does it matter that much?

Either way, the disciples are given a God-sent lesson about Jesus' Second Coming, just what they needed to hear at that moment!

He's gone, for now!

But He is coming back again some day!

Here's what these two clad-in-white visitors told the startled disciples: "Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven." Acts 1:11, tomorrow's text!

The main reason I hesitate to absolutely insist that these men are "angels" is this, the Bibles' own ambiguity here. Plus, nowadays especially, angels are greatly overemphasized. Nearly "worshipped" in many places!

As if they were "magic," or something!

Whereas truthfully, angels are just created beings, made by God in Heaven to run errands, make announcements, protect His people, and otherwise do God's bidding, whatever that might be.

Jesus is certainly "better" than the angels! Acts 1:4 speaking of our dear Lord, "Being made so much better than the angels, as he hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they."

Yes!

If you are saved, you enjoy a relationship with the Grace of God that angels will never know!

None of them has been "born-again!"

"Washed" in the Blood!

"Forgiven" of sin!

Whoever or whatever these "witnesses" are, "two" of them have been sent! Not three or four!

Two, that's often considered the Bible number for legal "witness." Remember Deuteronomy 19:15. "One witness shall not rise up against a man for any iniquity, or for any sin, in any sin that he sinneth: at the mouth of two witnesses, or at the mouth of three witnesses, shall the matter be established."

Two at least!

Jesus is coming back again, some day, two witnesses are about to tell us!

God is emphasizing this great Truth! With reliability and assurance! No doubt about it!

So, Jesus' ascension should remind us of two things.

First, keep your attention on Jesus! "Stretch out" toward Him, wherever He is! By faith, by prayer, via the Word of God, in your thoughts too!

Then, think a lot about His Second Coming!

"Departure" always suggests a subsequent "arrival!"

The plane that yesterday brought me from Atlanta to Detroit, a Delta Airlines Boeing 757, was making a "turnaround." It was gong straight back to its base.

So is our Lord making a "return" visit, some day!

Aren't you glad?

When we need help or information or encouragement, anything like that, our Lord is fully capable of sending it!

At least He did on that Occasion!

One more time. "And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; which also said ..." Acts 1:10

Several substantial thoughts, from a verse that's really fragmentary! Oh, the vast power of God's Word! It's complete sufficiency is amazing!

Tomorrow, Lord willing, let's examine what they said!

It will be important.

News from Heaven!

Yet, truth be told, we can all hear from Heaven today, through the completed Word of God!

Its 1,189 chapters!

One of which your Preacher today will expound, this cold Sunday morning in October.

Listen carefully!

He may not be wearing white apparel, but he is a man of God!

                                                                                --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 5, VERSE 11:

It's a relatively compact verse, but loaded with eschatological truth!

That just means it is full of Bible prophecy, the doctrine of "last things."

These words were spoken to the Disciples immediately after Jesus' Ascension to Heaven. "Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, Which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen Him go into heaven." Acts 1:11

The Lord's actual Second Coming to earth is being described. Briefly but accurately!

The verb "gazing" is "emblepo," an emphatic blend of "en" and "blepo," meaning "to look at with the mind!" To see, but in the sense of "discerning" a matter. Here framed as a present participle, "emblepo" suggests the Lord's followers were in deep thought, pondering the marvelous Event they had just witnessed.

Heaven, the noun, is "ouranos," from "oros" likely, their normal word for the "mountains." It means "a high, elevated, raised up place." That's Heaven, for sure! The highest Place of all!

But, good news!

This "same" Jesus, "houtos" in Greek, is coming back again! But even "houtos" combines "ho" and "autos." Or, "This very One Himself!"

Jesus, when He returns to earth, will not be sending Gabriel or Michael or some of the Seraphim in His stead!

He will do the job!

The same Jesus Who died, was buried and rose again!

I love those words, "This Same Jesus!"

Paul later spoke of "another" Jesus, derogatorily of course. "For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached ...." 2nd Corinthians 11:4, in part anyway.

And to the Galatians: "There be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed." Galatians 1:7-8

No!

None of this!

This "same" Jesus is coming back again!

It's a promise!

"Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, Which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen Him go into heaven." Acts 1:11

He's coming also "in like manner." That's "hos tropos" to Luke, where "tropos" is derived from "trope," a "turning around" maneuver! The "time factor" aside, Jesus is going to Heaven, waiting God's schedule, then coming right back to earth again! In sort of a "U-turn" fashion! "Round trip," in other words!

This Event being described is not the Rapture, when Jesus descends into the "air" surrounding earth, catching away the Church.

This Event is the subsequent, seven years later, actual Return of our Lord to this planet! Zechariah has it this way: "Then shall the Lord go forth, and fight against those nations, as when he fought in the day of battle. And his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south." Zechariah 14:3-4

Wow!

John adds, from Patmos: "And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war. His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself. And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God. And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean. And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, King of Kings and Lord of Lords. And I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the fowls that fly in the midst of heaven, Come and gather yourselves together unto the supper of the great God; that ye may eat the flesh of kings, and the flesh of captains, and the flesh of mighty men, and the flesh of horses, and of them that sit on them, and the flesh of all men, both free and bond, both small and great. And I saw the beast, and the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against him that sat on the horse, and against his army. And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshipped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone. And the remnant were slain with the sword of him that sat upon the horse, which sword proceeded out of his mouth: and all the fowls were filled with their flesh." Revelation 19:11-21, where Jesus obviously returns to earth and defeats the forces of iniquity, at the battle of Armageddon we think. Next thing we know, we're being emphatically told: "Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God." Yes, because Jesus is back on earth!

My point being: "This same Jesus Which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen Him go into heaven."

Yes!

That's good preaching, by these two men in white apparel. Whether they be angels or humans!

One more time: "Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven." Acts 1:11

Today, friends, let's think about our Lord's perhaps soon Return!

In like manner as they saw Him go!

He left from Jerusalem.

He coming back to Jerusalem!

He went into a Cloud!

He's coming back in a Cloud!

He departed literally!

He's going to come back literally!

He departed with several witnesses seeing it all.

He's coming back with the whole world watching! "Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him. Even so, Amen." Revelation 1:7

In like manner!

And, Christians, Paul says we are "to love" Jesus' Appearing! There's a definite reward for those of us who obey this command, too!

"Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing." 2nd timothy 4:8

The Crown of Righteousness!

For genuinely "loving" the Second Coming of Jesus!

No wonder John's last words were a prayer! He writes, concerning Jesus: "He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen."

John then responds: "Even so, come, Lord Jesus." Revelation 22:20

He will!

More accurate words have never been spoken.  "Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven." Acts 1:11

                                                                        --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 6, VERSE 12:

Our verse today is a little unusual.

It can barely stand by itself!

"Then returned they unto Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is from Jerusalem a sabbath day's journey." Acts 1:12

Our Lord's followers, those present at His Ascension, are being described. Jesus bodily returned to Heaven, ascended, from the Mount of Olives.

Without the Lord, what will the disciples do?

Virtually for the first time, in three years anyway, they are "alone." Jesus is not physically available to them!

Somehow, almost instinctively, they return to Jerusalem!

Why did they do that?

How did they know this was "next?"

The "two men in white apparel" had not told them to do so. Their words, fully repeated here, concern Jesus' Second Coming. "Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven." Acts 1:11

Again I ask, why back to Jerusalem?

Which still might have been a "dangerous" place for these closest students of the Lord!

And herein lies today's lesson.

Sometimes we must "piece together" what Jesus has said, remembering and applying His words, first from one place and then another, in order to follow His commands!

Here's what I mean.

Earlier in this Ascension account, in Acts 1:4, the Lord told them: "And, being assembled together with them, Jesus commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me."

Here's another place our Lord instructed his people, Luke 24:49. "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."

The apostles, in returning to Jerusalem,  were doing what they should, to the best of their knowledge! An action based on what little direct information they had, from two or three previous and brief utterances Jesus had made!

Like Isaiah said long ago, talking about the Word of God, too! "Here a little and there a little." Isaiah 28:10, "Line upon line, precept upon precept."

And that's the way it is, still today, in many instances anyway!

We occasionally do not have a direct command to follow!

So we must search His teachings, survey His words, even sometimes read His intentions, to know the "mind of the Lord" on an issue!

Which Church do I attend? Especially when your city has several good ones!

Can I participate in a certain activity? Some Christians do, others don't!

When, if ever, can I correct an erring believer? What if this person is a Man of God? Do we just let sin, blatant sin, continue?

And as you well know, there certainly are Christians on both sides of a number of issues today. Important issues, too!

Where do we get explicit instructions for handling situations like these?

Not everyone agrees!

Our only source for true Instruction, written source, is God's Word!

And all its pertinent data, that pertaining to your "question" anyway, may not be found in one single chapter!

So we must learn to do what the noble Bereans of Acts 17:11 did, "They searched the Scriptures daily, whether those things were so."

Look for instructions in many places!

Gospels, Epistles, Books of Poetry, the Prophets, all of God's Word!

Paul did say, "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable ...." 2nd Timothy 3:16, every verse!

By piecing together, like a patchwork quilt, Jesus' words about the coming of the Holy Spirit and the city of Jerusalem, the disciples pretty much knew what to do next, after the Ascension!

And that's what today's Text verse is illustrating! "Then returned they unto Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is from Jerusalem a sabbath day's journey." Acts 1:12

By the way, a "sabbath day's journey" is close to two miles. Luke has just strangely used a Jewish term, while writing to a Gentile audience!

I guess he knew that Scripture, in other places, would even explain this too!

And it does!

Once when Paul was preaching, in Athens to be specific, he was accused of being a "babbler!"

What an ironically "lovely" term, for a true Bible student!

It's Acts 17:18. "Then certain philosophers of the Epicureans, and of the Stoicks, encountered Paul. And some said, What will this babbler say? other some, He seemeth to be a setter forth of strange gods: because he preached unto them Jesus, and the resurrection."

Wow!

That noun, "babbler," translates "spermologos." That is, someone who gathers  and chooses and picks ("lego" in Greek) different kinds of seed ("sperma" in Greek), like a little hungry bird would do, hopping across the ground in planting season!

That, in a good way, is what we must do in the "field" of God's Word!

Hop and look and study and hunger ... picking up every relevant fact we can find, concerning our immediate "situation," building a body of Truth upon which we can act!

Then, in times like the disciples just faced, the Ascension, we too will know what to do!

Lord, help us to so study Thy Word!

That diligently!

That, at times anyway, selectively!

To be "approved" unto Thee!

Reader today, do you have your Bible nearby?

Considering today's lesson, maybe we had best keep it close, too!

We might need to go "prospecting!"

Searching God's precious Word!

                                                                     --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 7, VERSE 13:

The list is given more than once in the New Testament. But Luke's version here is my favorite for several reasons, Judas' absence being one of them, Judas the traitor!

"And when they were come in, they went up into an upper room, where abode both Peter, and James, and John, and Andrew, Philip, and Thomas, Bartholomew, and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon Zelotes, and Judas the brother of James." Acts 1:13

Matthew 10:2-4 and Luke 6:13-16 are pertinent here as well, both passages being given to these twelve men, their names.

"Upper room" is "huperoon," usually indicating "the highest part of a house!" It derives from "huper" or "hyper," in one sense meaning "over" or "overhead."

The Passover, really the "Lord's Supper," was begun by Jesus in such a place, an "upper room." Mark 14-12-15 records these words. "And the first day of unleavened bread, when they killed the passover, his disciples said unto him, Where wilt thou that we go and prepare that thou mayest eat the passover? And he sendeth forth two of his disciples, and saith unto them, Go ye into the city, and there shall meet you a man bearing a pitcher of water: follow him. And wheresoever he shall go in, say ye to the goodman of the house, The Master saith, Where is the guestchamber, where I shall eat the passover with my disciples? And he will shew you a large upper room furnished and prepared: there make ready for us."

And in the Old Testament Elisha was given such a place to live, 2nd Kings 4:8-10. "And it fell on a day, that Elisha passed to Shunem, where was a great woman; and she constrained him to eat bread. And so it was, that as oft as he passed by, he turned in thither to eat bread. And she said unto her husband, Behold now, I perceive that this is an holy man of God, which passeth by us continually. Let us make a little chamber, I pray thee, on the wall; and let us set for him there a bed, and a table, and a stool, and a candlestick: and it shall be, when he cometh to us, that he shall turn in thither."

"A little chamber, on the wall," an upper room!

Peter once, also, healed a lady in an "upper room," the same Greek word as here, "huperoon." Acts 9:36-41 tells us. "Now there was at Joppa a certain disciple named Tabitha, which by interpretation is called Dorcas: this woman was full of good works and almsdeeds which she did. And it came to pass in those days, that she was sick, and died: whom when they had washed, they laid her in an upper chamber. And forasmuch as Lydda was nigh to Joppa, and the disciples had heard that Peter was there, they sent unto him two men, desiring him that he would not delay to come to them. Then Peter arose and went with them. When he was come, they brought him into the upper chamber: and all the widows stood by him weeping, and shewing the coats and garments which Dorcas made, while she was with them. But Peter put them all forth, and kneeled down, and prayed; and turning him to the body said, Tabitha, arise. And she opened her eyes: and when she saw Peter, she sat up. And he gave her his hand, and lifted her up, and when he had called the saints and widows, presented her alive."

Therefore I say that in Scripture "upper rooms" are special places!

I nearly want to say that they are always associated with the Holy Spirit in some way, His Presence and His Power!

Maybe each of us, spiritually anyway, needs "an upper room!" A place where we can pray and study and seek God's Face! A place where God meets us day after day!

A special place of worship and intimacy and and fellowship with our Lord and Saviour!

It might be your closet, your living room at some quiet time of the day, or even your car driving up the Interstate!

Still, the disciples in our Text go to such a room. Right after Jesus' Ascension apparently. "And when they were come in, they went up into an upper room, where abode both Peter, and James, and John, and Andrew, Philip, and Thomas, Bartholomew, and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon Zelotes, and Judas the brother of James." Acts 1:13

These men are the focus of Acts 1:13, much like they are Luke's "heros" throughout His whole Gospel too.

Only eleven are listed, of course.

Judas Iscariot is now dead.

These men, these names anyway, are important to the Lord.

So much so that He has placed permanent reminders of them in New Jerusalem, our eternal Home! "And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb." Revelation 21:14, amazing!

But what's so special about them?

I wondered that, too.

Then, a day or two ago, I looked at the meanings of their names. I think they tell a story, a story of God's manifold Grace!

Quickly, here goes. "Peter, and James, and John, and Andrew, Philip, and Thomas, Bartholomew, and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon Zelotes, and Judas the brother of James."

Peter is always first on all the lists of disciples. The name is "petros" in Greek, meaning a "stone!" And that's where our Christian life begins, when we meet Jesus, God's Rock of Ages! The "stone" whom the builders rejected! But now God's chief Cornerstone!

James is next, "iakobos" in Greek. It means "supplanter, a thief," or just a plain old "crook" really! And that's exactly what we all were, before Jesus saved us! Deep in trespasses and sins! Lost and on our way to Hell! Sinners by habit!

John is third, meaning "Jehovah is a gracious Giver!" Need I say anything here? When I, an old sinner, met Jesus, the Rock of our salvation, His Grace saved my undeserving soul! I was washed in His precious Blood! Born again! Regenerated! God shared with me the Gift of eternal Life! I'll never get over that!

Andrew, ironically, means "manly!" It derives from "aner" probably, the "male" of the species. And, not to leave you ladies out, the idea here is "maturity." No longer a little boy or girl, but an fully developed adult! Spiritually advanced! God saves us to bring us to this kind of maturity! Not eternal teen-agers!

Philip, the maverick among these names, means "lover of horses!" God saved him "just as he was!" Right in the middle of his secular life! "Greek" to the core! Still, the Lord "found" him and "saved" him! What were you  in your former life? It does not matter! God saves people from all backgrounds! Horses or guns or fine china, whatever you once loved, yields to the overwhelming Presence of the lovely Jesus!

Thomas, the "twin" is next listed. And that's exactly what the name means! It's an Aramaic name. And as far as we know, while Thomas certainly got saved, his "twin" apparently did not! That's the way it is with Jesus, even in our families. One finds Christ, others are not even looking! We all know folks who are longing to see their loved ones saved, brothers and sisters included! Thank God today for saving you!

Bartholomew means "son of Tolmai," best I can tell anyway. And "Tolmai" means? The texts say "a furrow," like when a man is plowing out in the field. That pile of dirt, a whole row if it, that the plow turns up as it cuts through the ground. Bartholomew, descendent of "a pile of dirt?" Yes, that's what we all were, the dirt of the earth, the dust of the earth! God made Adam from such! "And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul." Genesis 2:7, literally. Yes, God took us old "dirt bags," excuse me, and saved our vile souls! He longer calls us such names, rather, now we are His "jewels!" See Malachi 3:17. "And they shall be mine, saith the Lord of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels; and I will spare them, as a man spareth his own son that serveth him." Thank you, Bartholomew!

Matthew is next, meaning "gift of Jehovah," closely related to "John," by name definition anyway! Twice we are being reminded of God's gracious Gift to us! That's Jesus! "Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift." 2nd Corinthians 9:15 says this. You can remind me of God's Grace, God's amazing Gift, anytime you please! Tell me about it again and again! What an awesome Gift Salvation truly is!

Then comes "James, the Son of Alphaeus." James, as we have already seen, is identical to the Old Testament Jacob, a "crook" but changed by the Power and the Love of God, by the Blood of Jesus! But add here the "son of Alphaeus." Which means "changing." Yes, the Hebrew noun "cheleph" means "exchange!" Wow! That's the whole idea behind the word "reconciliation" in the New Testament! "God took my sins away and, in exchange, gave me the very Righteousness of Christ Jesus, His Son!" I'm so glad Aphaeus, James' Father, was on the list!

Then Simon Zelotes, or Simon rhe Zealot! He's a political man, active in the resistance against Rome! A fiery hot Jew, a patriot to the core! "Simon" is an Old Testament name too, "hearing with the ear!" No one ever gets saved without "hearing" the voice of God, His Holy Spirit! In conviction, I mean. Faith cometh by such "hearing!" And "Zelotes" means "burning hot!" With "zeal" obviously! A saved man or woman has "heard" the joyful news, been born-again, and now lives "fervently" for the Lord! Oh yes!

Lastly, still a Judas! Identified here, not as Iscariot the traitor, but as "the brother of James." We do not know which James is meant, not the sons of Zebedee though. They have already been listed. What does Judah mean? "Praise!" Technically, more fully, "He shall be praised!" That's where our Christian lives always lead us! To praising God! To glorifying His Name! To uplifting Him! Day after day! As a lifestyle! Habitually! Instinctively! Even eternally!

Look at this list!

It tells a story!

The story!

The story of God's plan of salvation and its thrilling results in the lives of His followers!

That's why these names are etched into the very foundations of the Heavenly City!

And it's one of the reasons why God saved this particular group in the first place, I suspect.

Collectively, far more than individually, they tell a Story!

I today, early on a Wednesday morning, long before dawn, sit here at a keyboard absolutely "overwhelmed!"

Astounded by God's Wisdom and Beauty and Love!

His Grace ... from Peter to Judas!

From A to Z, we Americans would say!

From Alpha to Omega, for the Greeks!

These men, and others too, all in an "upper room."

What's going to happen next?

Come back tomorrow.

It will be good. I promise.

Because it will involve the Holy Spirit!

He alone makes it Good!

                                                                       --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 8, VERSE 14:

Jesus has returned to Heaven, "ascended" they say.

His disciples have returned to Jerusalem, as previously commanded.

In an upper room, they await the "Promise" of the Father, the coming of the Holy Spirit!

Acts 1:14 continues the story. "These (the disciples) all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren."

Who's in that upper room?

The disciples, but only eleven of them now.

Also some women.

Then Mary, Jesus' Mother.

And the "brethren" of our Lord, His actual brothers I think. Well, half-brothers to be more specific. They all had the same mother, but not the same father! Jesus' Father is Almighty God, Him being virgin-born as He is. His half brothers claimed Joseph as their Dad.

The very next verse, Acts 1:15, adds another layer of truth. The total attendance that day, in the upper room, 120 people. "And in those days Peter stood up in the midst of the disciples, and said, the number of names together were about an hundred and twenty, men and brethren ...."

Now, the disciples being there is no surprise, not at all.

But "the women?"

And even "His Mother?"

Then almost miraculously, "His brethren!"

I believe a strong case can be made that not only did a band of men follow Jesus everywhere He went, for nearly the whole three and a half years He walked the earth. But a group of ladies did too!

Read it for yourself. "And it came to pass afterward, that he went throughout every city and village, preaching and shewing the glad tidings of the kingdom of God: and the twelve were with him, and certain women, which had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities, Mary called Magdalene, out of whom went seven devils, and Joanna the wife of Chuza Herod's steward, and Susanna, and many others, which ministered unto him of their substance." Luke 8:1-3

These ladies are still with Jesus, even at the end! At the Cross! "There were also women looking on afar off: among whom was Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James the less and of Joses, and Salome; who also, when he was in Galilee, followed him, and ministered unto him; and many other women which came up with him unto Jerusalem."  Mark 15:40-41, among numerous other texts that substantiate this truth.

So, of course, they are in the upper room. They are believers, too! And Jesus treated them fairly, always.

And Jesus' Mother is in there, in that upper room, as well.

Mary.

Last we saw her, she was grieving at the foot of the Cross.

John, Jesus' beloved friend, was asked to care for Mary, after Jesus' death. "When Jesus therefore saw his mother, and the disciple standing by, whom he loved, he saith unto his mother, Woman, behold thy son! Then saith he to the disciple, Behold thy mother! And from that hour that disciple took her unto his own home." John 19:26-27

And just as soon as John knew that the crucified Jesus was alive, "resurrection" alive I mean, he "went away again unto his own home." John 20:10, but why?

To tell Jesus' Mother, Mary!

"He is alive!"

"Just like He said!"

Naturally, Mary is in that upper room!

Nothing could have kept her away!

"These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren."

Then "His brethern."

Last we knew, John 7:5, "For neither did his brethren believe in him." They were all lost.

Their names? "Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, the brother of James, and Joses, and of Juda, and Simon?" Mark 6:3

The best known are James and Jude, of course. Because they each wrote books in the New Testament.

These unbelieving brethren have somehow been saved!

After the Resurrection, likely!

1st Corinthians 15:7 tells us of the resurrected Jesus. listing one of His miraculous appearances: "After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles."

James, I think, was saved when Jesus sought him out, proving his Death and Burial and Resurrection were realities!

Jesus' literal "brethren," now born again, in the upper room too!

What a crowd!

What a group!

The nucleus of the New Testament Church!

"These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren." Acts 1:14

And what are they doing, all these folks?

Living in unity!

And praying!

And waiting!

Worshipping, too!

And we need not be surprised, either.

That's exactly what the Church is still supposed to be doing!

Yet today!

"These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren."

"Continued" is unusual, "proskartereo." It's based on "kratos," a word for "strength or power." It means "to have the resolve to keep on going!" Not to quit!

For ten days, mind you!

"Prayer" is talking to God generally, thanksgiving and confession and praise, whatever. "Proseuche" is the noun.

But "supplication" implies asking for things, petition! It's "deesis" in Greek, from "deomai," that is, "to lack" or "to want" something.

Well.

We must leave them now.

The 120.

They will do just fine.

By now, we know they did better than just "fine." They prospered! They grew! They experienced Revival! They turned their world "upside down!"

Read the rest of the Book of Acts!

After all, their Lord is in Heaven, praying for them!

And He is our Lord, too.

Still praying, for us, as well!

Jesus our High Priest, ascended at the Father's Right Hand, "seeing He ever liveth to make intercession for us." Hebrews 7:25

Amen!

                                                                        --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

Talk to Him today!

Love Him, too!

Remember Who He is!

And also, remember where He is!

 

 

LESSON 9, CONCLUSION:

Jesus ascended!

He now sits at His Father's Right Hand!

But what is He doing there?

What is His current ministry in Heaven?

One thing we know, for sure. He is praying for us! Interceding on  our behalf. "Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them." Hebrews 7:25 is not talking about sinners, either. Rather, about the saints of God! And He can "save" us or "deliver" us out of every situation, because He lives for that very purpose! To represent us before the Father in Heaven! He's my Lawyer! He's our Representative! He's the Saviour! Still concerned about us!

A second thing He is now doing for us is found in Romans 5:10. "For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life." While I suspect no one fully understands this verse, at least it is saying that Jesus' resurrection Life, right now, is the source of our ongoing eternal life as well! In other words, if Jesus died, now an impossibility, the Resurrected Jesus, our very lives, as Christians, would be in jeopardy! Our eternal lives! If Satan could kill Jesus, right now, we would all be without "life!" That's how I read the verse, anyway. Jesus is our Life! Should He fail, we all fail! Should He expire, we all do! But also, should He live eternally, an absolute certainty, we all shall live eternally too!  He is living, that we might live! "We are saved by his Life!"

Thirdly, Jesus is protecting me right now!

Fourthly, He is loving me right now. Because of the Blood of the Cross, He's smiling down upon us, His children!

Next, He's watching us, then, consequently! Overseeing all we do! Does that not make you want to please Him, in every area of your life?

Then too, everything He prayed for us in John 17, those deep longings of His Heart, for sure, He is tending to them as well. Performing them for His people, His Body, still on earth!

And those things are?

I've quit counting now. But they include "keeping us!" Here are His words: "Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are." John 17:11, no saved person will ever go to Hell! He's keeping us! We will all be together, for all eternity!

Additionally, He is insuring our Joy, right now! Still praying, Jesus asks: "That they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves." John 17:13 implies that as our Intercessor, Jesus is trusting His Father that we will have full joy!

And more! Victory over sin, over evil! He's praying that for you and me, today! "I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil." John 17:15

Then too, for our sanctification, our separation form sin. "Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth." John 17:17

He's praying that we don't fuss and fight all the time, too. That we live together in unity, in harmony. "That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me." John 17:21

Also, maybe best of all, He is praying for our safe and sound arrival in Heaven! At just the right time! "Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world." John 17:24, with Jesus forever, guaranteed!

Wow!

What a list!

And these things, among many others I've surely missed, are WHY His Ascension is so important!

He is not through ministering to His Church yet!

To His little children!

To you and me who are saved!

Yes, He ascended!

He is sitting there right now, at God's Right Hand, doing these things!

What a Saviour!

And how very blessed, we as His followers, truly are!

Praise Him and thank Him all day long!

Our ascended Lord!

Our Advocate!

Our Intercessor!

Our Love!

                                                                      --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

What a Saviour! An ascended Saviour at that! And busy He is too, on our behalf! Let's praise and adore and worship Him today! He certainly is worthy! So very, very worthy!

 

 

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