Welcome to Week 4 of the Higher Hope Church 2018 New Testament Reading Plan! If you haven’t already, go pick up your 5x5x5 Reading Plan and join our private Facebook group for daily interaction and discussion. In today’s post, I will share a brief recap of of our week. We finished up the Gospel of Mark and launched into the Book of Acts.
Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices with which to anoint Jesus’ body. They were wondering who would roll away the heavy stone in front of the tomb. When they arrive they notice that the stone had already been moved. Upon entering the tomb, they meet a young man in a white robe who tells them that Jesus is not there – He has risen! He tells them to go inform the disciples and Peter that Jesus is going before them to Galilee. They flee the tomb, trembling and in astonishment!
As we move into the book of Acts, it is always good practice to get a lay of the land. If you have a study Bible, there is typically an overview page that will orient you to the book you are about to read. Note the author, who the audience is, the culture, why the book is being written, etc. As you read, note key words and phrases. What’s the author trying to say? Does he repeat things? Why is each chapter here – what is its purpose? Let us know what insights you glean as you read/study each chapter.
After Jesus was crucified and rose from the dead, he appeared to the apostles over a period of 40 days and spoke about the Kingdom of God. He told them to not leave Jerusalem until the Holy Spirit came. He was then taken into Heaven. The apostles returned to Jerusalem, to the upper room of where they were staying, and joined together constantly in prayer. Peter discusses how the Scripture had to be fulfilled regarding Judas and they must select someone to replace him; someone who was a witness to Jesus’ entire ministry. The disciples nominated two men, prayed and cast lots, and Matthias was chosen to replace Judas.
They were all together in one place on the day of Pentecost. They were filled with the Holy Spirit who enabled them to speak in tongues. Those watching thought they were just drunk; however, Peter delivered a sermon in which he pointed out that the prophecy of Joel was being fulfilled. He pierced their hearts, urging them to repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus so they could receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The numbers of people being added the church numbered in the thousands. The believers devoted themselves to the apostles teaching, to fellowship, to the breaking of bread, and to prayer.
Peter and John encounter a beggar who was lame from birth as they were going to the temple for prayer. The beggar was placed outside the temple every single day so that he could beg from those passing by. He asked Peter and John for money; however, Peter looked him straight in the eye and commanded him to walk in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth. Instantly the man’s feet and ankles became strong and he walked and jumped and praised God! The Israelites were amazed but Peter points out that they should not be surprised. It is through faith in Jesus that the man was healed. The same Jesus that they handed over to be killed and disowned before Pilate. Peter encourages them to repent and turn to God so their sins may be forgiven.
The priests, captain of the temple guard, and Sadducees were disturbed at Peter and John’s teaching of the resurrection. Although many continued to believe, Peter and John were arrested and put in jail. They were questioned by the elders, leading priests, and teachers of the law who commanded them to stop speaking and teaching in the name of Jesus. Peter and John said that they cannot help but speak about what they have seen and heart and were released.
Questions for Reflection
- Picture yourself at the empty tomb – you are going to anoint Jesus’ body for burial and are informed that He has risen from the dead. How would you react?
- What do you like about the early Acts church?
- The Holy Spirit enables us to do things that we normally would never be able to do (or want to do). Think about something that you have done through God’s power that you would have never thought to do.
- What step of faith is the Holy Spirit wanting you to take this week?