joy 30 day devotional through the gospel of luke

Luke 24:50–53 (NLT) Then Jesus led them to Bethany, and lifting his hands to heaven, he blessed them. 51 While he was blessing them, he left them and was taken up to heaven. 52 So they worshiped him and then returned to Jerusalem filled with great joy. 53 And they spent all of their time in the Temple, praising God…Acts 1:4–8 (NLT) Once when he was eating with them, he commanded them, “Do not leave Jerusalem until the Father sends you the gift he promised, as I told you before. 5 John baptized with water, but in just a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” 6 So when the apostles were with Jesus, they kept asking him, “Lord, has the time come for you to free Israel and restore our kingdom?” 7 He replied, “The Father alone has the authority to set those dates and times, and they are not for you to know. 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” 

The disciples were instructed to wait in Jerusalem until the Holy Spirit would come to indwell and empower them.  In Acts chapter 2 we know that happened just 10 days later, on the Biblical festival of Pentecost.  

There are two main issues that Jesus addresses in the moments before His departure into heaven.  Jesus had died and rose from the dead to pay sin’s penalty in full for all who would believe.  This fulfilled the first responsibility for the Messiah.  The disciples naturally believed that He would now fulfill the second responsibility of Messiah and establish His Kingdom on David’s throne in Jerusalem where He would rule the whole earth in righteousness and peace.

So the disciples asked, “Lord, has the time come for you to free Israel and restore our kingdom?”  Jesus responded by telling them that the timing for this was not up to Him, but to His Father in heaven.  Their job was to be His witnesses starting from Jerusalem until the whole world hears the Gospel.  

This provides the crucial two concepts that guide the lives of those of us who know and love the Lord.  The first concept is that we are to be His witnesses.  We are to share the love of God and His salvation in the power of the Holy Spirit with everyone we can…starting in our  “Jerusalem.”  In other words, we share with everyone God has put in our life starting with those closest to us and then going out in concentric circles of influence.

When I was a new Christian, I was introduced to the “Ten Most Wanted” list.  Inspired by the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted, I wrote the names of the 10 people I “most wanted” to come to know the Lord.  Within about a year, everyone on that list had trusted in Christ.  Then I wrote a new list, and so on. 

I would encourage you to have a “Ten Most Wanted.” List their names, pray for these people consistently, and look for opportunities the Lord provides to share Jesus with them.  

The second concept is that Jesus is coming back to establish His Kingdom on earth.  The hope of those disciples will be fulfilled in Jesus’ rule of the whole world from Jerusalem.  

In 2008 I was touring Israel.  I was emailing my son, Rick, and told him that I was going to the Mount of Olives the next day.  Rick said, “Dad, bury something on the Mt. of Olives and when Jesus is ruling on His throne, you and I can go dig it up!”  The thought that one day Rick and I could be together in Jerusalem while Jesus is on His throne overwhelmed me.  So the next day I buried this cross at the Dominus Flevit Church.  This is where Jesus wept over Jerusalem and said, “You will see me no more until you say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’” (Matt. 23:39).

So What?  Two Questions: Who would you write on your “Ten Most Wanted” list?  Are you living in expectation of Jesus’ return?

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