Day 311 (Nov. 7): Jesus ascends to heaven, Matthias named new disciple, Holy Spirit comes to disciples, Peter preaches to crowd, believers form a community

Welcome to BibleBum where we are exploring the entire Bible in one year to better learn how to follow God’s instructions and discover the purpose for our lives.  The BibleBum blog uses The One Year Chronological Bible, the New Living Translation version.  At the end of each day’s reading, Rob, a cultural history aficionado and seminary graduate, answers questions from Leigh An, the blogger host, about the daily scripture.  To start from the beginning, click on “Index” and select Day 1.

Mark 16:19-20

Luke 24:50-53

Acts 1-2:47

Questions & Observations

Q. (Luke 24:52): So, this is the joy that you were talking about when I said how could happiness come from Jesus being crucified?  Especially since they saw Him die on the cross, resurrected and now ascending to heaven, they are sure He is the Messiah.  It would be hard to believe that the prince of heaven was right before my eyes.

A. I was referring to seeing Jesus alive at Easter and in the days that followed.  Jesus being resurrected changed everything for His followers, who are beginning to be transformed from the weak fearful men that we saw run from Jesus’ side into the men who will — with the Spirit’s help — change the world.

Q. (Acts 1:18): Here, Luke, the writer of Acts says that Judas bought a field with the 30 pieces of silver.  But, earlier, Matthew said Judas threw the coins down at the priests who then used the money to buy a field and then killed himself.  So, maybe something got lost in translation or one of them — Luke or Matthew — had their story a little mixed up.

A. Actually, it is possible to reconcile the two versions.  Church tradition holds that Judas hung himself on a tree at the top of a hill, and that either when his body decayed or when he was cut down, his body fell and broke open.  I believe that Luke, the writer, is aware that Judas didn’t DIRECTLY buy the field, but it was bought with the money that was returned to him.  Anyway, I think it is possible to reconcile the two versions of his death, but it is by no means absolutely necessary to do so.

Q. (Acts 2:1): I don’t remember talking about the day of Pentecost before.  What’s it about?

A. We have, it just wasn’t referred to by that name (since “Pentecost” is Greek).  It refers to the Feast or Festival of Weeks, which follows exactly 50 days (seven weeks and a Sabbath) after Passover.  It is described in Exodus 23 and 34, and commemorates the receiving of the Law by the Jews at Sinai, which you will remember occurred after the first Passover.  It is also in the midst of the Jewish grain harvest (the story of Ruth is frequently associated with it), which makes it a holiday that celebrates the ways in which God has provided for His people, both in their daily bread and spiritual needs.  Cool huh?

Anyway, it doesn’t take a big leap of logic to see why God would use THAT date to do a new thing with early Church — God is once again providing for the needs of His new “project,” and providing them with the very Spirit that will give them life.  One other note: it was the High Priest who was the one who declared the beginning of the festival by symbolically waving a strand of grain as the “first fruits” of the harvest.  Two of the central images of the NT theology we will explore is Jesus as our new High Priest (and an eternal one) and that He is the first fruits of the resurrection (more on what that means later).  So, the Jews who would have participated in this event would have clearly understood the significance of the date that God chose to move in a new way.

Q. (Acts: 2:3): Is this where some churches get the “speaking in tongues” part of their worship?  I have never been in a worship service where this happens, but I bet it would be interesting.  I would think though, that the Spirit allowing the disciples to speak in many languages was so they could preach the same message far and wide without language barriers.  I would think that this gift would be for the disciples only, not for talk that doesn’t make any sense and no one else can understand it.  That wasn’t the purpose of the gift, right?

A. Yes, this is the origin — but not the last occurrence — of Speaking in Tongues, one of the Spiritual Gifts.  Now later in the text, we will see instances where the Spirit moves in a person and they speak a language that no one around them understands (which was not the case here — the miracle was that the people around them DID know what they were saying!)  When no one understands what has been said, it is the NT expectation that the Spirit will gift someone with the ability to interpret what has been said, and it is always to edify the Church body.  This will lead to some issues that Paul will be discussing down the road, but we will get to that.

The true miracle of Pentecost  (one that will not be repeated in the NT) is that the Spirit spoke to people from all over the earth who were gathered in Jerusalem IN THEIR OWN LANGUAGE.  That was surely an amazing event to bear witness to.

O. (Acts 2:25-28): Beautiful!  I love it!  Our church’s kids’ ministry gave out a set of key tags with Bible verses on them that show God is there always to help pull us through anything.  They are awesome verses!

Fear of rejection, Isaiah 41:10

Fear of failure, Joshua 1:9

Fear of physical danger, Psalm 56:3-4

Fear of being cared for, Luke 12:22-24

Fear of being alone, Psalm 23:4

Fear of uncertainty, Philippians 4:6-7

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