Bible Narratives Devotional Week 45: Jesus Ascends and Sends the Holy Spirit
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Week 45: Jesus Ascends and Sends the Holy Spirit
Weekly memory verse:
1 Corinthians 15:21–22 – “For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.”
“Jesus Lives, and So Shall I” (free download)
What benefits do believers receive from Christ at their death?
Believers are at their death made perfect in holiness and immediately pass into the presence of God forever.
Day 221: Jesus Appears to His Disciples
Reading: Luke 24:13–45, Psalm 138-139
Luke 24, Verse 13. Two of them. These apparently were not any of the 11 disciples. Verse 18 indicates one of them was named Cleopas. Emmaus. The exact location of this city is unknown.
Verse 31. Vanished. Jesus had a true body, indicated by the fact that he could eat, but it was now a glorified body.
Verse 34. Appeared. Scripture indicates that Jesus appears on at least ten separate occasions between his resurrection and ascension (see 1 Cor 15:5–8).
As proof that he did indeed rise from the dead, Jesus appeared on at least ten different occasions to hundreds of people. He had a glorified body that nevertheless still retained the scars of his crucifixion, as additional evidence that he was who he claimed. All of what happened, both his death and resurrection, had been prophesied in the Old Testament.
- Why did Jesus need to appear to people between his resurrection and ascension?
- How were Jesus’s death and resurrection prophesied in the Old Testament?
- What are evidences that the risen Christ had a physical body?
Day 222: Jesus Appears to Thomas and Other Followers
Reading: John 20:24–21:25, Psalm 140
Chapter 21, Verse 1. Sea of Tiberias. Another name for the Sea of Galilee (see John 6:1).
Verse 3. Fishing. This was in obedience to Christ’s command that they wait for him in Galilee (Matt 28:16).
Verse 7. Disciple whom Jesus loved. A common self-description of John.
Verse 19. Death. Peter would later die at the hands of Nero, being crucified upside down since he did not want to be crucified exactly as Christ had been.
Jesus further confirms his resurrection by appearing to his disciples, giving them undeniable evidence that he was who he claimed to be and he was truly alive. Christ lovingly challenged Peter in what would be necessary to serve him going forward, and Peter did indeed faithfully follow Jesus’s instructions for the rest of his life.
- How did Jesus’s response to Thomas’s doubts reveal his compassion?
- How did Jesus’s challenge to Peter reveal his compassion?
- According to John, why did he write his Gospel?
Day 223: Christ Ascends to Heaven
Reading: Matthew 28:16–20, Luke 24:44–43, Acts 1:1–11
Matthew 28, Verse 16. Eleven disciples. Other followers of Jesus were also with them, as is clear by the fact that “some doubted” (v. 17).
Verse 19. Make disciples. The primary command of Jesus’s “Great Commission” to his disciples is to make disciples. This includes going, proclaiming the gospel (Mark 16:15), baptizing new converts, and “teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.”
Acts 1, Verse 1. First book. Luke wrote Acts as volume 2 of his explanation and defense of Christianity. Theophilus. The secular ruler to which Luke wrote both volumes.
Verse 5. Baptized. First Corinthians 12:13 indicates that all believers are baptized with the Holy Spirit into the body of Christ, although the disciples had to wait ten days for the inauguration of this act.
Verse 6. Restore the kingdom to Israel. The disciples still believed that Christ would establish an earthly kingdom. Jesus did not correct their thinking; rather, he indicated that what was prophesied in the Old Testament was still yet to come.
Verse 11. In the same way. This is a clear prophecy of the bodily Second Coming of Christ.
Between his resurrection and ascension, Jesus taught his disciples what they would need to know in order to establish his church after he left. He commissioned them, and by extension all Christians, with making disciples of all nations, and he gave them the ability to do so.
- How could some of Jesus’s followers doubt even though they saw him risen?
- What elements are included in Jesus’s Great Commission to his followers?
- According to Jesus and the angels, what will happen when he comes again?
Day 224: The Coming of the Holy Spirit
Reading: Acts 1:12–2:47
Acts 2, Verse 2. Suddenly. The coming of the Holy Spirit was not something the disciples were seeking or praying for. Christ sent the Holy Spirit just as he promised he would.
Verse 4. Filled with the Holy Spirit. This was a unique filling with the Holy Spirit that empowered the apostles for special tasks in the book of Acts. This is different both from Spirit baptism, which is a one time act for all Christians at the moment of their salvation (1 Cor 12:13) and being filled by the Spirit with the Word of God. Only the last of these (being filled by the Spirit) is commanded of Christians (Ephesians 5:18). This special Spirit filling on the day of Pentecost was evidenced by rushing wind, tongues of fire, and the God-given ability to speak in languages that the disciples had not previously known.
Verse 6. Language. While the term “tongues” in verse 4 may initially be ambiguous, the term “language” here clearly indicates the definition of speaking in tongues—speaking in a known language that the speaker has never before learned.
Verse 16. Joel. Joel’s prophecy was clearly not completely fulfilled that day, as many of the visible signs he prophesied did not occur. Yet Peter indicates that this day was a pre-fulfillment that was initiated by the coming Holy Spirit.
Verse 38. Be baptized. Just as Jesus had commanded in his Great Commission, Peter challenged his audience to repent of their sins, followed by immersion in water as a sign of their union with Christ by the Spirit. Baptism does not produce remission of sins, but it is so closely connected with true repentance as to be considered a complementary act.
Verse 42. The breaking of bread. This refers to the observance of the Lord’s Supper, along with dedication to apostolic teaching, fellowship, and “the prayers,” likely indicating formal worship prayers known to them from the Synagogue.
Just as Jesus had promised, he sent the Holy Spirit upon his followers on the day of Pentecost, fifty days after his resurrection. At that moment, Christ’s followers were baptized with the Holy Spirit into the body of Christ, which formed the foundation of the church. They also received special signs and abilities in order to confirm their authority and ministry. In response to Peter’s powerful sermon, 3,000 people were saved, baptized, and added to the church, devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching, to fellowship, to observing the Lord’s Supper, and to the prayers.
- Why did Jesus send the Holy Spirit?
- What did it mean that the disciples spoke in tongues?
- What were the core commitments of the early church?
Day 225: The Apostles Preach the Gospel and are Persecuted
Reading: Acts 3:1–4:31
Acts 3, Verse 11. Portico called Solomon’s. A portico that surrounded the temple court.
Chapter 4, Verse 3. Already evening. Jewish law forbid trials from taking place at night.
Verse 8. Filled with the Holy Spirit. This is the same unique, special filling the apostles experienced in Acts 2.
Verse 25. By the Holy Spirit. This introduction to the quote from Psalm 2 is a clear description of the fact that Scripture was written by human authors by the Holy Spirit.
Just as Jesus predicted, and on the basis of the power he himself provided by sending the Holy Spirit, Jesus’s disciples began to boldly preach the gospel. The same Jewish leaders who conspired to kill Jesus opposed this preaching as well. Yet Peter answered the charged with respect and boldness, confident that what was happening was consistent with what God has predicted.
- What was the content of the apostles’ sermons?
- Why did the religious leaders arrest them?
- What was the apostles’ response to the persecution?
About Scott Aniol
Scott Aniol is the founder and Executive Director of Religious Affections Ministries. He is director of doctoral worship studies at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, where he teaches courses in ministry, worship, hymnology, aesthetics, culture, and philosophy. He is the author of Worship in Song: A Biblical Approach to Music and Worship, Sound Worship: A Guide to Making Musical Choices in a Noisy World, and By the Waters of Babylon: Worship in a Post-Christian Culture, and speaks around the country in churches and conferences. He is an elder in his church in Fort Worth, TX where he resides with his wife and four children. Views posted here are his own and not necessarily those of his employer.