BRP Insight Post for Week of May 14th, 2019
Today we jump into the history of the early church as recorded in the book of Acts. Acts nicely bridges the life and teachings of Jesus in the Gospels to the struggle and growth of the early church. After Jesus rose from the dead, he stayed for 40 additional days. During that time he worked on two primary things. He “gave many convincing proofs that he was alive” and he “spoke about the Kingdom of God.”
Can you imagine if you had been there to witness the crucifixion, death and resurrection of Jesus? First, to see Jesus die on a cross along with two other men at a public execution. Then, after three days, to hear that he was alive again!? If I am honest, I see myself landing in the camp of disbelief. After all, people don’t just die and rise from the dead! The odds are definitely stacked in my favor if I go with the doubters. And to go a step further, even if I were able to see Jesus in person, my confusion and disbelief would likely still be off the charts. Was this a ghost? I see myself standing next to doubting Thomas wanting to touch the wounds to make sure Jesus was real. I would probably even go so far as to ask him trick questions that only Jesus could have known to test him. Because of this, it makes sense that the first thing Jesus did was to provide “convincing proofs that he was alive.” This elephant in the room had to be addressed before anyone could hear anything else Jesus had to say! During the 40 days, Jesus appeared to hundreds of people, and he repeatedly walked and ate with the disciples. They became, wholeheartedly, convinced it was Jesus! Later, all the disciples except John died holding tightly to the truth. Jesus was alive!
As more and more people became “believers”, Jesus was able to switch gears and speak about the Kingdom of God. This new Kingdom was mysterious with attributes hidden in parables about random things like mustard seeds and lamp stands. There was a new and different set of values, however, new and different didn’t quite capture it. The values were not only different, they were polar opposites. The differences were so stark that the kingdom of God has been described as “the upside down kingdom.” Jesus turned everything upside down in that small part of the world. He had bigger plans. His plans included the whole world. Now that his disciples were finally getting it, they could share the good news with the rest of the world. This would be huge undertaking with massive struggle and opposition. The disciples couldn’t do this on their own. Before Jesus left he promised them supernatural power in the form of the Holy Spirit. “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”(8) (Mic drop with long dramatic pause…….) All the disciples could do was stand and stare as Jesus floated away into the clouds. Little did they know, the upside down kingdom would one day be a global phenomenon!
Director of Small Group & Lay Counseling Ministries