We celebrated Easter a little over a week ago, but did you know that Easter actually lasts for 50 days?! The season of Easter–or Eastertide, as it’s commonly known–is the period from Resurrection Sunday to Ascension Sunday. It’s a time of celebration, hope and discovery. During this season, Jesus appeared to his followers, revealed his plan and commissioned them for the ministry he had empowered them to fulfill. He promised a Helper in the person of the Holy Spirit to guide them for the work ahead.
Reflect on the book of Acts as the apostles leaned into their mission. How must they have felt after spending this season with their risen Savior? Envision how they might have responded to Jesus’ commission. What spiritual postures can you identify with and employ in your own spiritual work?
Peter Addresses the Crowd
After Jesus’ ascension, his apostles went out to preach the gospel, gathering thousands of followers. Acts 2:22-32 shared Peter’s words as he speaks to a gathered crowd:
“Fellow Israelites, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know. This man was handed over to you by God’s deliberate plan and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross. But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him. David said about him:
“‘I saw the Lord always before me.
Because he is at my right hand,
I will not be shaken.
Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices;
my body also will rest in hope,
because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead,
you will not let your holy one see decay.
You have made known to me the paths of life;
you will fill me with joy in your presence.’
“Fellow Israelites, I can tell you confidently that the patriarch David died and was buried, and his tomb is here to this day. But he was a prophet and knew that God had promised him on oath that he would place one of his descendants on his throne. Seeing what was to come, he spoke of the resurrection of the Messiah, that he was not abandoned to the realm of the dead, nor did his body see decay. God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of it. (Acts 2:22-32 NIV)
The defining moment in His story
Can you imagine the emotions the disciples experienced at the realization of Jesus’s resurrection? Imagine the joy they had when they realized Jesus returned from the dead? Or the fear, curiosity and wonder His resurrected body elicited? What about the sense of adventure and excitement the mission He was commissioning them to pursue produced?
It is helpful to understand the context for Peter’s sermon above. His audience were first century Jews who were in Jerusalem for the festival of Shavu’ot (a Hebrew word meaning “weeks,” a Jewish harvest festival, also known in the first century as Pentecost). Thus, when Peter uses the plural form of “you” in this speech, “you crucified,” (verse 23), he is speaking to the Jews of his day in Jerusalem. Luke lays a share of the culpability for Jesus’ death at the feet of Jesus’ own people. Not a popular point he is making!
Acts records the activities of the Apostles. It is one of the most thrilling accounts of disciple making in church history and is the foundation that we build our faith on today. Imagine if we did not have the book of Acts. We would struggle to put the pieces together. Thanks to Luke, we have the historical account of what transpired after Jesus’s return. It is too easy to blow by Easter and forget what followed.
I invite you to explore afresh what you can learn from the earliest record of disciple-making movements and the spiritual posture the Apostles demonstrated, so that you may adopt a similar posture to experience that same challenge, excitement, and fruit in your life.
What Spiritual Posture can you adopt from this passage?
Following are questions you can use personally (or if you are coaching a group of Jesus followers) to make more and better disciples.
- How have you demonstrated faith in Jesus during your spiritual journey?
- Where have you doubted His activity in your life?
- What can you learn from those moments?
- What do you notice about Peter’s spiritual posture in his account of Jesus’s death and resurrection?
- What was Peter expecting from this message?
- What are you anticipating as you connect with people far from God?
- What is your spiritual work right now?
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