I Believe... Now What?
This past Sunday, we celebrated Jesus’ triumphant resurrection from the grave. In a scandalous turn of events, the tomb of Jesus of Nazareth was found empty on the third day following His crucifixion. Now alive and well, Jesus spent the next 40 days with His apostles.
“After his suffering, he presented himself to them and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God. On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command:”
“After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight. They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. ‘Men of Galilee,’ they said, ‘why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.’”
Acts 1: 3-4a, 9-11 NIV
Have you ever had a time in your life where, after a lot of hard work and dedication, you accomplish one of your biggest goals? Maybe your team won a championship, you got that promotion, or perhaps you retired? Inevitably, after the celebratory moment fades, you look around and ask yourself:
“Now what? What do I do now?”
We all live lives of purpose. For the apostles, their purpose in life was to sit in the presence of their rabbi, Jesus, and help Him spread His ministry on Earth. After He rose from the dead, those 40 days on earth were a kind of victory lap for Jesus and the apostles as they celebrated Jesus’ victory over death and grave.
But, like all celebrations, Jesus’s time with the apostles reached its end. In this encounter, Jesus returns to the Father, ascends to Heaven and leaves His apostles behind.
The apostles could have easily looked around and said “Now what?” But Jesus hand-picked the moment He ascended. The key to what the apostles were to do lay in that final interaction with Jesus.
“‘Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’
Then they gathered around him and asked him, ‘Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?’
He said to them: ‘It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. 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.’”
Acts 1: 4b-8 NIV
Now what? The apostles knew what their next steps were. First, to wait until they were baptized by the Holy Spirit. Then, be His witnesses “to the ends of the earth.”
Short-term goal. Long-term goal. Check.
But what about us today? Maybe you are reading this as a relatively newfound believer in Jesus Christ. Or maybe you have called yourself a believer for most of your life but don’t know what to do with your faith. Either way, you ask a similar question: “I believe in the life of Jesus… now what?”
Just like the apostles following Jesus’s ascension, your answer lies in these verses. If you believe in Jesus, the power of the Holy Spirit dwells in you. So, with the power of the Holy Spirit within us, Jesus calls us to be His witnesses.
Where? To the ends of the earth.
Wherever we find ourselves, Jesus calls us to be His witnesses, to make disciples of all nations.
I remember early on in my walk with Christ, I received an encouraging note from a friend that went like this:
“Tomorrow is just another Monday... unless you make it different.”
Jesus Christ died on the cross, rose from the grave, and ascended into heaven. And His last request before ascending was for us to make His name known to the ends of the earth. And each of us has the same choice to make in response to this command: will I let tomorrow be just another day, or will I make it different by making Him known?