Reading Acts Together #2: Acts 1:12-26

This little section is reassuring for those who feel small and unspectacular. A little motley group in a room in Jerusalem became the world’s biggest religion and has impacted billions of lives. The Lord loves to use the small and the weak. We’ll see next time that they needed help, but here’s a few things to hold on to, remembering the church survives in weakness and through disappointment and betrayal.

1: Prayer is important. I love verse 14 – it’s a challenge and an encouragement ‘they all joined together constantly in prayer’. They knew they were small – their Lord and Saviour had just left them and told them to wait for the gift of the Holy Spirit (v4-5) – they must have had doubts and worries and questions and what did they do? They prayed constantly together. If there’s one thing that is lacking in most churches today it is this – the desire to join together constantly in prayer. Lack of prayer suggests lack of urgency in mission and lack of dependency on God. I don’t know what ‘constant’ looks like but I’m pretty sure its not what we’re used to.

2: Few come. Verse 15 says there were about 120 believers at the beginning (and probably more spread throughout Palestine e.g. 500 in 1 Cor 15:6). For many churches this would seem like a huge number – but consider the thousands Jesus preached to and performed miracles to – perhaps tens of thousands – and yet from the thousands only 120 remained in Jerusalem. Don’t be too disappointed when people leave or don’t believe. If revival didn’t happen with Jesus, then be okay with it not happening with you.

3: The resurrection is convincing. Verse 14 says part of the group was Jesus’ family – Mary and his brothers and sisters. His brothers like James for instance, didn’t believe Jesus (John 7:5) so what changed their mind? Certainly not Jesus’ death – being crucified might have confirmed their suspicions and worst fears. The one thing that must have convinced them was the resurrection – seeing the risen Jesus made them realise that their brother was the Messiah and their Lord, and that he was right all along!

This is why being a ‘witness with us of his resurrection’ (v22) was important for the Apostolic ministry – (as well as being there from the start, they needed to faithfully pass on and teach what Jesus taught) because they could witness about the risen Lord. The resurrection was the key evangelistic weapon to show the people the truth and power of the gospel.

4: Christianity is rooted in the Old Testament. We shall see this again and again in Acts. Christianity was not born in a vacuum. It was not dependent on Greek or Roman myths. It had historic roots and Jewish foundations. This is why Peter sees no issue with quoting from the Psalms (v20) to justify Judas’ replacement.

5: It was important for the apostles to be twelve because the number twelve was a significant and important number in the OT. Symbolising the twelve tribes of Israel, the apostles now represented Christ – the true and faithful Israel – as his spiritual children, and would spread the message to the ends of the earth and so create a people more numerous than the sands on the seashore.

But they’re going to need help…we can’t do this on our own. That’s why we need to join together constantly in prayer and why they were waiting for the Spirit to come…

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