FINAL PREPARATIONS EQUIP THE APOSTLES TO LAUNCH THEIR GREAT COMMISSION MINISTRY UPON THE ARRIVAL OF HOLY SPIRIT POWER
We have a tendency to jump into things too quickly; to launch new ministries and new projects without adequate preparation. How long did God prepare Moses in the wilderness?? 40 years! That number 40 is special in Scripture for a time of testing and preparation. Jonah 3:4 — Nineveh was given 40 days to repent before God would send judgment. Look at the 40 day period that Christ was tempted in the wilderness after His public baptism – relied on Scripture; communed with the Father; preparation for ministry. Then Christ spent 40 days up to His Ascension giving Final Instructions to the apostles (Remember last week’s text – 2 instructions by Christ Himself and then one by the two angels upon the Ascension of Chris)t. Jesus commanded the apostles to wait in Jerusalem until the coming of the Holy Spirit. But that indefinite short term of waiting (not many days) was not to be wasted time. Turns out it was a 10 day period. Jesus knew that there still were a couple of final preparations that were needed to equip the apostles to launch their Great Commission ministry.
2 KEY AREAS OF FINAL PREPARATON FOR LAUNCHING THE APOSTOLIC GREAT COMMISSION MINISTRY
I. (:12-14) STRENGTHEN YOUR SPIRITUAL RELATIONSHIPS –
DRAW CLOSE TO GOD AND TO YOUR PARTNERS IN GOSPEL MINISTRY
A. (:12) Be in the Place Where God Wants You to Be = Jerusalem for the Apostles
“Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a Sabbath day’s journey away.”
This is a matter of obedience – Jerusalem was certainly a dangerous place for them to set up ministry headquarters
They had options:
– Could have gone back to their secular professions – fishing, whatever business had supported their family
– Could have prematurely launched their ministry efforts
– Could have stood in place star gazing
Very short distance – a Sabbath day’s journey – about one half of a mile
MacArthur: This measurement was derived from tradition based on Israel’s encampments in the wilderness. The tents farthest out on the camp’s perimeter were 2,000 cubits from the center tabernacle – the longest distance anyone had to walk to reach the tabernacle on the Sabbath.
Bock: Zech 14:4 has the Messiah descend to the Mount of Olives. Thus the locale carries eschatological overtones and is an appropriate place to have discussed Jesus’s return.
“In that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, which is in front of Jerusalem on the east; and the Mount of Olives will be split in its middle form east to west by a very large valley”
Submitting to God’s agenda and timetable for your life
Will end up being a strategic place for the ministry that God has customized for you
B. (:13) Build Close Relationships With Your Fellow Spiritual Leaders
“And when they had entered, they went up to the upper room, where they were staying; that is, Peter and John and James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon the Zealot, and Judas the son of James.”
Kent: The use of the definite article in the Greek text points to a particular upper room, perhaps the same one where the last supper with Jesus had occurred. In any case it was the headquarters of the believers in Jerusalem, for the imperfect tense form “they were abiding” denotes their habitual activity.
They were living together in very close quarters during this very important time awaiting activation for ministry by the coming of the promised Holy Spirit – at least they made this room their headquarters – might not have all been able to live here – we find both men and women gathered here; but probably sleeping in some type of barracks situation – talk about having to put up with a snoring problem
Counting – you will find list of 11 since Judas has gone rogue (Illustration of “Accounting” – counting big numbers)
Bartholomew also called Nathanael (Jn. 1:45-49)
This James is different than the half-brother of Christ who wrote the book of James – called James the lesser; obviously this Judas who remained was different than Judas Iscariot
Very strong personalities; very different temperaments; yet one in mind and spirit
All personally chosen by Jesus Christ and equipped for the upcoming ministry to play a vital role in the building of His church; some enjoyed a closer bond with Jesus than others and were included in the most intimate settings – such as the Transfiguration – but all had witnessed the Ascension into heaven
Certainly this time deepened their already close bonds and created a unity of purpose and a resolve to faithfully fulfil their calling as apostles; they had known failure before; but they had also experienced the forgiveness of their Master and His final encouragement to them; preparing to minister as a team that respected one another and valued the contribution each would make
C. (:14a) Bathe Your Ministry Preparations in Corporate Prayer
“These all with one mind were continually devoting themselves to prayer”
Combine this description of how they spent their time during this 10 day period with Luke 24:53 “were continually in the temple praising God” – thus some try to conclude that the upper room must have been in the temple – but probably not – Prayer not restricted to making request but would include praise and worship as well; split their time apparently between the more public arena of the temple and this more private setting in the upper room
1. United in Prayer – BAGD: prayed with one mind or purpose or impulse – favorite word of Luke’s – uses it ten times (only once elsewhere in NT) – emphasis here is on corporate prayer rather than private prayer – we are unbalanced in this area – although the model of Jesus certainly shows that He spent considerable time alone in prayer
2. Persevering in Prayer – Col. 4:2 “Devote yourself to prayer”
Wiersbe: quoting John Bunyan: Prayer is a shield to the soul, a sacrifice to God, and a scourge to Satan.
What were they praying about?
– Remember the simple acrostic about keeping our prayers balanced around 4 different themes: ACTS – adoration, confession, thanksgiving, supplication
– The things pertaining to the kingdom of God – “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done”
– The coming of the promised Holy Spirit in power
Stott: We learn, therefore, that God’s promises do not render prayer superfluous. On the contrary, it is only his promises which give us the warrant to pray and the confidence that he will hear and answer.
– The preparation of hearts for the gospel message they were about to deliver
– Boldness in testifying to Jesus Christ
D. (:14b) Broaden Your Partnership to All Who Know Jesus Well
“along with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers.”
Shows the significant role that women played in the gospel ministry; they were present and involved and participating in a vital way right from the beginning
Luke 8:2,3 – these had followed Jesus on a regular basis;
“The twelve were with Him, and also some women who had been healed of evil spirits and sicknesses: Mary who was called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, and Joanna the wife of Chuza, Herod’s steward, and Susanna, and many others who were contributing to their support out of their private means.”
Mark 15:40-41 – the women had been singled out as those who remained at the scene of the cross as Jesus breathed His last breath —
“There were also some women looking on from a distance, among whom were Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James the Less and Joses, and Salome. When He was in Galilee, they used to follow Him and minister to Him; and there were many other women who came up with Him to Jerusalem.”
MacArthur: Doubtless they included Mary Magdalene, Mary the wife of Clopas, the sisters Mary and Martha, and Salome. Some of the apostles’ wives also may have been present. . . Jesus’ half-brothers, named in Mk 6:3 as James, Joses, Judas, and Simon.
Just because they were not included in the role of leadership as an apostle did not diminish their personal worth or their ministry contribution
Spiritual relationships take precedence over family relationships – note how Jesus pointed out earlier the priority of spiritual relationships … brothers of Jesus did not believe early on; but were subsequently won over (John 7:3-5)
“Who is my mother and who are my brothers?” Matt. 12:46-50 – are we true disciples? Are we doing the will of God?
Strengthen your spiritual relationships:
– By patient obedience — Be in the place where God wants you to be; doing what God wants you to be doing during this period of waiting and preparation
– By privileged communion among leaders — Build close relationships with your spiritual leaders
– By persevering prayer — Bathe your upcoming ministry in prayer
– By partnership bonding — Broaden your partnership among the key disciples
II. (:15-26) SUBMIT TO GOD’S SOVEREIGN PLAN – WHICH INVOLVES FOLLOWING THE BLUEPRINT OF GOD’S REVELATION
A. (:15-20) Sin is No Surprise or Threat to God’s Sovereign Plan —
God’s Sovereign Plan for the Launch of the Great Commission Ministry Took Into Account the Apostasy of Judas –
During this short waiting period the apostles had to come to grips with the reality that one of their core group – Judas Iscariot – had tragically defected and become the worst traitor imaginable; What did this mean for their mission? Jesus had promised them 12 thrones in the Millennial kingdom – everything had been geared around a leadership group that mirrored the 12 tribes of Israel … now they were down to 11; Did the opposition and treachery of Judas in any way threaten or compromise the sovereign plan of God?
1. (:15) God Prompts Leaders to Exercise Discernment and Take Initiative
“And at this time Peter stood up in the midst of the brethren (a gathering of about one hundred and twenty persons was there together), and said,”
Not an indication in any way that Peter had some type of hierarchical pope status or authority over the other apostles; but someone had to take the initiative
In fact the relationship that is emphasized here is one of “brethren” — brothers and sisters in the Lord – not even emphasizing his apostolic authority over the other disciples who had gathered here
2. (:16a) God Fulfills Every Promise He Makes (down to the most minute detail) –
All Scripture is Inspired and Reliable (no matter how long the fulfillment seems delayed)
“Brethren, the Scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit foretold by the mouth of David”
Much we can learn here about the inspiration of Scripture
David = mouthpiece of God
Holy Spirit actively directing the process
Inerrancy in all details must be maintained
3. (:16b-17) God’s Purposes are Never Thwarted by the Treachery of His Enemies
“concerning Judas, who became a guide to those who arrested Jesus. ‘For he was counted among us, and received his portion in this ministry.’”
Problem: How could Jesus have chosen someone to be one of the chosen 12 who turned out to be a traitor?
a. Began in position of privilege and trust and provision – a true insider
b. Apostasized to become a tool of Satan rather than a servant of God
name forever linked to treachery; to being a traitor; a friend who turns on you and sells you out; what a legacy
Issue of reconciling God’s Sovereignty with Human Responsibility – Acts 2:23 “this Man, delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death.”
Whitcomb: His betrayal was predestined; Did Judas have a choice? Yes; you can’t harmonize predestination and human responsibility; “No man can come unless the Father draws him; but whosoever comes I will in no wise cast out.” Judas made a choice against the Savior; Have you made one against Him?
4. (:18-20) God’s Judgments Are Legendary – The High Price of Wickedness
“(Now this man acquired a field with the price of his wickedness; and falling headlong, he burst open in the middle and all his bowels gushed out. And it became known to all who were living in Jerusalem; so that in their own language that field was called Hakeldama, that is, Field of Blood.) For it is written in the book of Psalms, ‘Let his homestead be made desolate, And let no man dwell in it’; and, ‘His office let another man take.’”
Kent: The field which Judas obtained with the blood money was actually purchased by the priests (Matt. 27:6-8). They probably purchased it in Judas’ name since it was legally his money.
Stott: Both (Matt and Luke) say that Judas died a miserable death, that a field was bought with the money paid him (thirty silver coins), and that it was called “The Field of Blood.” The apparent discrepancies concern how he died, who bought the field and why it was called “Blood Field.” . . .
Why did the field purchased come to be known as “The Field of Blood?” Matthew’s answer is that it had been bought with “blood money;” Luke gives no explicit reason, but implies that it was because Judas’ blood had been spilled there. Evidently different traditions developed (as so often happens) as to how the field got its name, so that different people called it “Blood Field” for different reasons.
Quoting Psalms 69:25; 109:8
Fruits of wickedness are very clear – what do you get at the end of the day? Is it worth it?
Transition: Some commentators believe that Peter overstepped here and was in error in this selection process. They want to have Paul included as the 12th apostle and therefore believe there is no space for Matthias.
[Rest of this material covered in next message]
B. (:21-26) God’s Will (His Sovereign Plan) Can Be Discovered and Implemented —
God’s Sovereign Plan for the Launch of the Great Commission Ministry Filled the 12th Apostolic Slot with God’s Choice –
Man looks on outward appearance but God looks on the heart
CONCLUSION: FINAL PREPARATIONS
– Strengthen your Spiritual Relationships
– Submit to God’s Sovereign Plan