Lessons on the Hill (Part 1) by Pastor Carl W. Mann, II
Acts 1:6-14 KJV“When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel? And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power. But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth. 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.”
Much had transpired in the lives of the Apostles, followers, and family of Jesus since He had been arrested, crucified, buried, and resurrected. The past 40 days were the most dramatic of their lives and now it appeared that more “Drama” was about to enter their existence. Jesus was leaving!
It was treachery when He was handed over to the Centurion. It was terrifying when He was crucified at Calvary. It was traumatic when He was laid to rest in the Cemetery. It was troubling when He walked out of the Cave. Now, it is tearful as He speaks this Commandment. Jesus was leaving!
The world of the Disciples had been turned upside down by His influence, teachings, and model. He had been all their Hope, their Dreams, and their Security. But – Jesus was leaving! Jesus had prepared them for such a time as this. They were ready to continue His work – the Will of the Father. They were more prepared than they knew. All they had to do was follow His model. They just needed to take one step at a time – one day at a time! What do we learn from these disciples that will help us in “such a time as this?” We must…
The last command that Jesus gave “on the Hill,” was … Luke 24:49 (KJV) “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.” Their staying in Jerusalem “until ye be endued with power from on high,” was quite a challenge!
We must remember that it was just 40 days after the Resurrection of Jesus. The Jewish leaders were still “up-in-arms” concerning Jesus Christ of Nazareth. They had succeeded in getting many to proclaim that the disciples of Jesus had stolen His body; therefore, they would pursue His disciples to obtain a confession of their “conspiracy.” BUT, Jesus had ascended to heaven, and they were instructed to remain in Jerusalem “until…”
This would require the disciples to “leave” their comfort zones and begin their life in faith without the visible presence of Jesus. Jesus reminded them of His promise right before He ascended – Acts 1:8 (KJV) “But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.”
The “Enduement of Power” is recorded in the Book of Acts – Acts 2:1-4 (KJV) “And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.”
It is fitting that the Disciple who came out of his “comfort zone” by walking on the water would be the one whom God would choose to “Leave his comfort zone” again and preach the first sermon in the New Testament Church (Acts 2:14-41). In Peter’s first attempt to “Leave” his comfort zone, he took his eyes from Jesus and sank in the waves. After Pentecost, Peter had the strength to “Leave!”
We must remember that when Jesus began to select His “Disciples,” His first command was to “Leave.” Matthew 4:18-22 (KJV) “And Jesus, walking by the sea of Galilee, saw two brethren, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers. And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men. And they straightway left their nets, and followed him. And going on from thence, he saw other two brethren, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in a ship with Zebedee their father, mending their nets; and he called them. And they immediately left the ship and their father, and followed him” (Emphasis Added).
It requires commitment to obey the Lord. “General Longstreet’s forces are not yet committed to battle” were words that were uttered at the Battle of Gettysburg. I wonder, how often are these words indicative of believers today?
Jesus gave ALL believers the same Commission to “LEAVE.”
Matthew 28:19-20 (KJV) “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.”
Why would Jesus need to promise us that He would be with us? It is because it is difficult to “leave” our comfort zones and step out in faith to obey God. Every time we speak to others about Jesus Christ, and Him Crucified, we must “Leave” our comfort zones – even if it becomes familiar.