Opening Prayer

Heavenly Father, thank you for your gift of the Holy Spirit. In all ways, I want to hear his voice and follow his leading.

Read ACTS 1:1–11

Jesus Taken Up Into Heaven

In my former book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach until the day he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles he had chosen. 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. 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. For John baptized with[a] water, but in a few days you will be baptized with[b] the Holy Spirit.”

Then they gathered around him and asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?”

He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. 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.”

After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight.

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.”

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  1. Acts 1:5 Or in
  2. Acts 1:5 Or in

New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.


As we begin reading Acts, may the Lord open our hearts to the new things intended for us.

Think Further

When reading a narrative like this it is important to seek understanding of the historical and cultural context in which the drama takes place. The apostles to whom the risen Jesus appeared remained in a kind of limbo, caught between the earth-shattering events they had witnessed at Easter and an uncertain future in a world lacking the physical presence of the Messiah. Despite the fact that the focal point of the teaching of the risen Jesus throughout this period was on ‘the kingdom of God’ (v. 3), the apostles’ understanding continued to be shaped by the belief that the promise of God’s reign over the nations would be fulfilled only when Israel was converted and became the means of blessing to ‘the ends of the earth’ (v. 8). In their minds, talk of the coming of the kingdom was inseparable from Jewish recognition of the Messiah Jesus, as their question to him indicates: ‘Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?’ (v. 6, italics added).

Despite Jesus’ response, which makes clear that ‘the times or dates’ (v. 7) of God’s intervention are none of their business, they cannot shake off the mental habits formed by the received interpretation of prophecy, so they are challenged again (this time by angels) to recognize the radical newness of their situation and to grasp a fresh vision of God’s purpose for them and the world (vv. 10, 11). Even then, the transformation of minds and hearts that this new context demanded involved a struggle and it is some time before we will find Peter confessing, ‘I now realize … God does not show favoritism.’1 We, who live at a time of massive cultural change, dare not stand in judgment on the apostles, since we also struggle with a changed world in which the angels’ warning to stop ‘looking into the sky’ (v. 11) and embrace with hope and joy God’s newness may apply to us.


How might the command to cease standing ‘looking into the sky’ apply to us today?

Closing prayer

Lord God, thank you that my times are in your hands. Please give me the grace to see your purposes in my waiting and fill me with expectation as you equip me for the way ahead.

Last Updated on May 17, 2024 by kingstar

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