Read for This Week’s Study
Memory Text“You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8, NRSV).
Jesus’ mission on earth was finished. God would soon send the Holy Spirit, who—ratifying their efforts with many signs and wonders—would empower and lead the disciples on a mission that would reach the ends of the earth. Jesus could not stay with them forever in human flesh. Not only did His incarnation impose upon Him a physical limitation in the context of a worldwide mission, but His ascension and exaltation in heaven were necessary in order for the Spirit to come.
Until Jesus’ resurrection, however, the disciples did not clearly know these things. When they left everything to follow Him, they believed that He was a political liberator who would one day drive the Romans out of the land, reinstate David’s dynasty, and restore Israel to its past glory. It was not easy for them to think otherwise.
This is the primary issue of Jesus’ final instructions to the disciples in Acts 1. The promise of the Spirit comes in this context. The chapter also describes Jesus’ return to heaven and how the early church prepared itself for Pentecost.
*Study this week’s lesson to prepare for Sabbath, July 7.
Additional Reading: Selected Quotes from Ellen G. White
Jesus had several times attempted to open the future to His disciples, but they had not cared to think about what He said. Because of this His death had come to them as a surprise; and afterward, as they reviewed the past and saw the result of their unbelief, they were filled with sorrow.
When Christ was crucified, they did not believe that He would rise. He had stated plainly that He was to rise on the third day, but they were perplexed to know what He meant. This lack of comprehension left them at the time of His death in utter hopelessness. They were bitterly disappointed. Their faith did not penetrate beyond the shadow that Satan had cast athwart their horizon. All seemed vague and mysterious to them. If they had believed the Saviour’s words, how much sorrow they might have been spared!—The Acts of the Apostles, pp. 25, 26.
While the holy women were carrying the report that Jesus had risen, the Roman guard were circulating the lie that had been put into their mouths by the chief priests and elders, that the disciples came by night, while they slept, and stole the body of Jesus. Satan had put this lie into the hearts and mouths of the chief priests, and the people stood ready to receive their word. But God had made this matter sure, and placed this important event, upon which our salvation depends, beyond all doubt; and it was impossible for priests and elders to cover it up. Witnesses were raised from the dead to testify to Christ’s resurrection.
Jesus remained with His disciples forty days, causing them joy and gladness of heart as He opened to them more fully the realities of the kingdom of God. He commissioned them to bear testimony to the things which they had seen and heard concerning His sufferings, death, and resurrection, that He had made a sacrifice for sin, and that all who would might come unto Him and find life. With faithful tenderness He told them that . . . He had overcome the temptations of Satan and obtained the victory through trials and suffering . . . [and] they could overcome as He had overcome.—Early Writings, p. 189.
As the disciples returned from Olivet to Jerusalem, the people looked on them, expecting to see on their faces expressions of sorrow, confusion, and defeat; but they saw there gladness and triumph. The disciples did not now mourn over disappointed hopes. They had seen the risen Saviour, and the words of His parting promise echoed constantly in their ears. . . .
Truths which had passed from their memory were again brought to their minds, and these they repeated to one another. They reproached themselves for their misapprehension of the Saviour. Like a procession, scene after scene of His wonderful life passed before them. As they meditated upon His pure, holy life they felt that no toil would be too hard, no sacrifice too great, if only they could bear witness in their lives to the loveliness of Christ’s character.—The Acts of the Apostles, pp. 35, 36.