“3 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. 4 On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. 5 For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”
As we look into the scripture, there are some very important things that we need to focus on when it comes to Jesus’ life after the resurrection. First, We notice that Jesus remained on Earth with his disciples for forty days after he resurrected. This is very important because It shows us that Jesus was able to teach his disciples further about the faith that they would be sharing to the world around them.
During the time that Jesus remained on Earth, his resurrection was seen and experienced by hundreds of people, which would all be able to testify to the truth of who Jesus is. This allows us to wrap our minds around the fact that Jesus truly lived after his death, burial and resurrection.
Secondly, we notice that Jesus taught his disciples that there was an upcoming gift that God, the Father has promised them once Jesus leaves the earth. This gift is the Holy Spirit, which is the third person of the Holy Trinity of God. The Holy Spirit Is used to guidance us, encourage us in our darkest times and give us courage to spread the gospel.
“7 He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. 8 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.”
While Jesus was remained with the disciples after his resurrection, the disciples were still under the thought that Jesus’ ultimate goal was to restore the kingdom of Israel. They did not understand that in order to store God’s kingdom to its initial intent, the Gospel would need to be spread throughout the world because God’s initial intent was to bring people of all races and backgrounds closer to a relationship with their heavenly father. The purpose of Jesus’ life on earth was not to restoration to the Israelites, but his purpose was to bring healing and restoration to people and God.
As followers of Jesus, the Holy Spirit is what gives us the strength to face any difficulties and the courage to spread the Gospel. That means that when we are struggling to follow God, we are able to turn to the Holy Spirit to endure our current situation.
“10 They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. 11 “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.”
After Jesus found it time to return to Heaven, Jesus was lifted into the heavens on a cloud. Not surprisingly, the disciples was shocked at this sight and they stared off into the clouds, looking into the sky. It was then that the disciples were approached by two men, who reassured that when Jesus does return, he will return the way he left: on the clouds.
“2 Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, watching over them—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not pursuing dishonest gain, but eager to serve; 3 not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock.”
As men and women of God in a secular world and a secular work environment, it is easy to see that there are are people that we are able to help better understand the Gospel and the God that inspired it. Even when we are not given the most influential platform, we can still make an impact in the lives of those that are around us; whether it be family who don’t know the LORD, or it is friends and co-workers that are skeptical of our faith. We are asked to demonstrate God’s love to those who don’t know ands don’t love God.
In the calling on our lives, it is not our responsibility to hold the Gospel over our friends and family’s heads, where we act “greater-than-thou.” In reality it is our responsibility to be eager to serve those that need God’s grace. We are asked to guide them closer to the LORD.
“5 In the same way, you who are younger, submit yourselves to your elders. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because,‘God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.’6 Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. 7 Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”
While those that are given a high level of influence are expected to guide those in their influence closer to God, it is also true that those who are younger or in a lower level of influence should remain humble, allowing the elders to teach them and guide them in the faith.
In order to learn the faith and walk it out faithfully, we need to be willing to admit that we have much to learn and we need to seek understanding from those who are older in the faith. It is at that point that they can then teach the next generation in the faith.
“8 Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 9 Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.
In order to grow in faith and later teach the faith, we need to be sober minded, able to focus on God’s truth and God’s path that lays before us. The easiest way to do that we need to understand our own weaknesses. That means we also need to study the movements of the enemy in our lives.
In order to resist the enemy and his schemes, we need to understand them in fullness. At what times are we at our weakest? What are some things that we need to surround ourselves with to strengthen our faith? Lastly, what are some things that we need to avoid in order to not hinder our grow in the LORD?
10 And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. 11 To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.
When we are able to resist the enemy and we are able to humble ourselves before the LORD, we are then able to grow in the faith by growing closer to God. Through God’s grace and love we are given eternal glory in heaven. It is through God that we are freed from our sinful past and restored not the men and women that we are meant to be. It is through that growth that are made strong. It is for this reason why we continuously given God the credit for the growth that we experience throughout our lives.
“Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same way of thinking, for whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, 2 so as to live for the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for human passions but for the will of God.”
In the life of Jesus, he knew that he would face suffering, mentally, physically and emotionally. At the end of his life, Jesus knew that he would face the crucifixion. Jesus knew that he would face the mockery of the people and the abuse of the society.
As Christian we need to arm ourselves with the idea that we will also face suffering and mockery for our faith. Now, we may not face physical abuse for the faith that we share with the world, but we need to understand that mockery is apart of the world that we live in.
When Christ changes your life, too often your actions will also reflect your faith. When your actions reflect your faith, your image looks different to the world around you. This is were the mocking and the suffering will begin.
“4 With respect to this they are surprised when you do not join them in the same flood of debauchery, and they malign you; 5 but they will give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead.”
When the world is mocking you for your faith because they see that you are different than the average person, they will see that you stand out in the culture. As time goes by, their surprise will become respect and they will soon give the credit of the change to God, who has created a new heart within you.
“6 For this is why the gospel was preached even to those who are dead, that though judged in the flesh the way people are, they might live in the spirit the way God does.”
Here’s the truth: We are all dead and separated from God. It is because of our sin and our brokenness that places a wedge between us and God. It is because of this fact that we need the Gospel to be breached and spoken to the world around us!
It is because of our sin that when we experience someone who is in community with God, we look at them as if they are outcasts. The Gospel is spoken so that we can receive a new life that we will live out with the spirit of God!
“7 The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers. 8 Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. 9 Show hospitality to one another without grumbling.”
When we are filled with the Spirit of God we are encouraged and asked to love each other earnestly. Too often we live for church on Sundays instead of living out the Gospel on the daily basis. In other words, we should love the community around, that means those in the faith as well as outside of the faith.
In order to better represent God in a community that will mock us for our faith, we are asked to show love and hospitality to the world around us, even if they mock us for the faith that we hold so dear into our hearts.
“Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble. 9 Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult.”
It seems all too often that we live in a world that is deceitful and broken. We walk around in streets that displays evil and vile acts where one individual quickly reacts to the another’s evil deeds.
Due to that fact that this is the environment where we are born, grow and develop, we also live lives of destruction towards the ones that we should love. In reality, this is a similar realm that Peter was also writing to in the times that he penned his first letter.
This was the purpose of the verses 8-9. For all those that have encountered God’s love should work to live lives of like-mindedness and unity. For those that are suffering from pain and hurt, we are asked to show them compassion and love. We should be urging each other to heal the community around us and not fill it with further evilness.
When we are acting in a different manner than the rest of the people around us, the believer will seem strange and often seen as soft in a world of harsh words. It is all too often that we will splattered with harsh insults and shrill mockery. Yet, we should never repay those actions with the same harmful actions. Instead, we should be compassionate to those that harm other because we sense that they too are hurting. In this we need to be like-minded!
“13 Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? 14 But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. ‘Do not fear their threats; do not be frightened.’
When we understand that those that are hurting will often be the same one that harm others, it is easy to see that there is no need to fear the threats. When we show compassion to those that are hurting, we are blessed because we are blessing those that need the blessing. We are not meant to treat them differently due to their pain, but we are to take the burden that they carry and assist them in their journey. We are to show them the same type of love that Christ has continuously showed us!
“15 But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, 16 keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.”
Even though we show Christ’s love to those that are hurting, it is true that our loving companion will create questions in the minds of those outside of our faith. This is normal and completely acceptable. In those times we are able to answer the curious inquiries. Even when the questions come with criticisms and harsh words, we should answer their questions with gentleness and respect. Their harshness should not rub off on to our words and into our actions. We take the effort to display Christ’s patience and love in the harshest of moments.
Anthony K. Giesick
Actions are taken everyday that help make this world better and I just want to share them with you.