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"until the day he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles he had chosen." NIV translation
As we see here, Luke is still referring to the Gospel account that he had already written. We talked about being a "friend of God" and, in the first part of this verse, we see that Jesus was "taken up to heaven". Isn't it awesome to know that we have a friend in heaven? The last part of today's verse basically tells us why Jesus came back to earth after his death , burial, and resurrection. Keep in mind that Jesus had already taken care of our sins and made the way for us to have a right relationship with God. But, God knew that it was going to be tough to be different and to follow Jesus. God, in his infinite love and mercy, sent us the power to do what he knew we couldn't do alone. That power comes in the form of the Holy Spirit. We need to each and everyone stop and to ask ourselves the question "Do I have the Holy Spirit at work within and through me or am I trying to follow Jesus in my own strength?" God has given us this gift as a way of knowing that we are his, therefore, if we do not have that gift, we need to go back and look at the gospel accounts of Jesus and decide whether we accept him as our Lord and Savior or not.
In the other Gospel accounts, these instructions are referred to as "the great commission". Luke reminds us that Jesus gave instructions to the apostles as to what he wanted them to do. If we go back to the Gospel According to Luke, we see that the instructions that Jesus gave were clear and to the point. First, Jesus told them to wait until they received the power to do the will of God.
He told them that power would come through the gift of the Holy Spirit. The second part of his instructions were simple and basically he said to go and preach repentance and forgiveness of sins in Christ's name.
This brings us to another question that we each have to ask ourselves. Are we preaching repentance and forgiveness? Most of us realize that we were given the gift of the Holy Spirit to help us personally to follow Jesus but we are reminded here that, once we have that power, we are to use it to reach a hurting world. When was the last time you used that power to do what Jesus instructed?
"After his suffering, he showed himself to these men and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God." NIV translation
When we think of his suffering, we usually think of Jesus hanging on a cross for our sins. It is good to remember the physical pain but the suffering was so much more. While Jesus was on the cross, he experienced for the first time what is was like not to have the Father in his life. That had to be such an agonizing lonely feeling. Jesus even cried out my God why have you forsaken me. Can you imagine what it would be like if God was to no longer be a part of your life?
Our verse goes on to say that he "gave many convincing proofs that he was alive". You see the apostles, even after being with Jesus throughout his ministry on the Earth, still did not understand about the resurrection. There were many theories at that time to explain where Jesus' body had gone. But, when Jesus showed up in the flesh, the apostles believed. Each and every one of us have to come to the same conclusion because, if Jesus was not resurrected from the dead, we have no hope and no friend in heaven. If you do not believe it, then go back and read the gospel accounts of the life of Jesus. Either every word that Jesus said was true or none of it was. You have to make that decision on your own.
The last part of today's verse says that Jesus was with them for forty days and told them about the kingdom of God. You see, only after coming to know that Jesus is who he said he was, are you prepared to learn and to grow. Today, we have the chance for God to tell us about his kingdom. Every day when we read his word we have the Holy Spirit to help us to understand and to grow. Got the Spirit? If not, go back and read the gospel accounts of the life of Jesus. If you have got the Holy Spirit, pray that God will help you to understand his word.