Acts 1:1–11 (NKJV)
The story of Jesus Christ coming to earth dominates the course of Christian thought during the season of Christmas, including a celebration of advent, or the coming of Jesus. Advent is defined as “the arrival of a notable person, thing, or event.” (Google Dictionary) Calling the coming of Jesus advent is surely legitimate. However, I venture to call the coming of the Holy Spirit as a legitimate advent as well. This passage of Scripture at the beginning of the book of Acts contains several things, including a setup of the purpose of the book, and also a prophetic message about the coming and purpose of the Holy Spirit to the earth, specifically to the church. Finally, the prologue to Acts records the ascension of Christ back to heaven.
1 The former account I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach, 2 until the day in which He was taken up, after He through the Holy Spirit had given commandments to the apostles whom He had chosen, 3 to whom He also presented Himself alive after His suffering by many infallible proofs, being seen by them during forty days and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God.Acts 1:1-3
In these verses, Luke describes the continued purpose of His writing. Since he was also the author of the Gospel of Luke, he states His purpose to continue the story of Jesus and His church after the resurrection.
4 And being assembled together with them, He commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father, “which,” He said, “you have heard from Me; 5 for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” 6 Therefore, when they had come together, they asked Him, saying, “Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” 7 And He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority. 8 But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”Acts 1:4-8
In these verses, Jesus proceeds to give instructions and a promise to the disciples. He instructs them not to disperse or relocate, but to tarry in Jerusalem. In the climate surrounding the crucifixion of Christ, the disciples could have easily gone back to their homes and remained safely distant from the event. But God had a purpose for these disciples and kept them near the site of the events of Christ’s death. He then shared with them the Promise of the Father, that He would baptize the disciples with the Holy Spirit. They nearly brushed that thought aside and began to ask about the establishment of a political or earthly kingdom on earth. Jesus let them know clearly that that was not their concern. Instead, He shared with them the power and purpose of Pentecost. They would receive power when the Holy Spirit came, and then would, in that power, be witnesses unto Christ, spreading His gospel near and far. The progression from Jerusalem (city) to Judea (region) to Samaria (neighboring region) to the uttermost parts of the earth signals that the gospel will travel throughout the entire world, and that they would be the witnesses of that powerful gospel.
9 Now when He had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. 10 And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel, 11 who also said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven.”Acts 1:9-11
The passage then moves to the ascension of Christ. He was taken up, as if He just began to rise from the earth. As He got higher, a cloud seemed to envelope Him and take Him on up to heaven. Two men, presumably angels, spoke to the disciples a message of hope, of a parousia to come, when Jesus would return to the earth in like manner. This passage is rich with narrative and prophecy for the church in the day of Christ and in our day. Jesus finished His time on earth with promise and hope unto His church. They would receive power, they would fulfill the purpose of Christ on earth, they would be comforted by the Holy Spirit, another paraclete Who would walk with men spiritually, and then they would see Jesus again when He comes to take His church to heaven. Those same promises are available to the reader today. Ben encouraged. The Holy Spirit is still present among us. His power still sustains us, and the witness of the Gospel is still efficacious. Jesus is still coming, and we are stilled save. Praise God for this Advent of Power!
Artwork from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=StSfYBVhUZQ