Day 23: Jesus Departs

Day 23: Jesus Departs

Jesus Departs

Read Acts 1:1-11. For further reflection, read Luke 24:36-53.

There is always a period of uncertainty and anxiety whenever the top leader of any organisation changes. Oftentimes, whenever the CEO of a company changes, the top management who served with the previous CEO usually also leaves shortly after that. There is no greater example than the change of a political leader after an election. Usually, there’s an expectation from everyone, from the public to the media, that this new leader will want to appoint his/her own team in the various governmental portfolios.

The reason why the rest of top management changes is usually because the incoming CEO or political leader have a different vision than their previous counterpart. This change in vision usually means that the new leader will want their own leadership appointments who would embrace and implement the new vision. That is why there is always a sense of anxiety whenever there is a change in the top leadership. As a church, we are going through a season of change and transition. We are going to have a change in “top leadership” – our senior minister. How will it and how should it compare to any other organisations?

In our passage today, Jesus is about to leave his disciples after his resurrection. Thus, in many senses, the “top leadership” of the disciples will no longer be with them. What is going to happen to the movement that Jesus himself started? How would the disciples handle the transition from Jesus’ departure? We read how Jesus prepares his disciples for his eventual departure.

Luke wrote in his Gospel account about “all that Jesus began to do and teach” until the day he left, implying that the book of Acts is all about what Jesus is continuing to do and teach. However, how is Jesus going to do that? First, he reassures them of his resurrection and then teaches them about the kingdom of God (v3). He then tells them to wait for the baptism with the Holy Spirit in Jerusalem (v4).

Naturally, his disciples asked Jesus when he is going to restore the kingdom to Israel. Jesus’ answer provides us with the framework on how we can think about this transition. The disciples are still expecting Jesus to still be with them physically, but he reminds them that this final restoration of Israel that they had in mind is something that only God would know (v7). He then mentions that they will receive power from the Holy Spirit, a power that will enable them to be Jesus’ witnesses to the ends of the earth (v8).

Jesus’ disciples then will not be preaching a different message from Jesus himself. He taught them about the kingdom of God over a period of forty days[1] (v3). And now that he will be leaving them, it is up to them to continue being Jesus’ witnesses to the ends of the earth, preaching the message of the Gospel of Christ. As they do that, they anticipate and look forward to the day when Christ will come back from heaven (v11). In the meantime, their responsibility now is to be Jesus’ witnesses to the world.

In many senses, the situation that the disciples faced is similar to our situation.[2] Their top leader has left them. What are they going to do? Empowered by the Holy Spirit, they are to keep preaching the same message that Christ himself has taught them – the great enduring message of the Gospel. We are in a season of change – what are we going to do? The same thing – empowered by the same Holy Spirit as the disciples, we are to keep preaching and witnessing to the same message that Pastor Ben has been preaching to us all these years. Unlike any other organisations, our vision and core message never changes. It did not when Jesus left about 2000 years ago. It remains the same enduring, eternal message today. Let us embody, preach, and witness to Christ together as a church.

  • Pray for wisdom for all of Subi Church as we discern God’s will for the new senior pastor. Discernment involves the whole church, and therefore pray for wisdom for yourself as well.
  • Pray that in this season of transition, we continue to be faithful in living out the Gospel message in our lives.

[1] Presumably this isn’t the only time he taught them. His disciples did spend about three years with him. The teaching here is probably regarding Jesus’ own role and place within the kingdom of God.

[2] While it is similar, it is not the same. I am in no way equating Pastor Ben’s role in the same way that Christ was to the disciples.