Acts of the Apostles 1:1-11
In my earlier work, Theophilus, I dealt with everything Jesus had done and taught from the beginning until the day he gave his instructions to the apostles he had chosen through the Holy Spirit, and was taken up into heaven. He had shown himself alive to them after his Passion by many demonstrations: for forty days he had continued to appear to them and tell them about the kingdom of God. When he had been at table with them, he had told them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait there for what the Father had promised. “It is,” he had said, “what you have heard me speak about: John baptised with water but you, not many days from now, will be baptised with the Holy Spirit.”
Now having met together, they asked him, “Lord, has the time come? Are you going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” He replied, “It is not for you to know times or dates that the Father has decided by his own authority, but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you, and then you will be my witnesses not only in Jerusalem but throughout Judaea and Samaria, and indeed to the ends of the earth.”
As he said this he was lifted up while they looked on, and a cloud took him from their sight. They were still staring into the sky when suddenly two men in white were standing near them and they said, “Why are you men from Galilee standing here looking into the sky? Jesus who has been taken up from you into heaven, this same Jesus will come back in the same way as you have seen him go there.”
Hebrews 9:24-28, 10:19-23
It is not as though Christ had entered a man-made sanctuary which was only modelled on the real one; but it was heaven itself, so that he could appear in the actual presence of God on our behalf. And he does not have to offer himself again and again, like the high priest going into the sanctuary year after year with the blood that is not his own, or else he would have had to suffer over and over again since the world began. Instead of that, he has made his appearance once and for all, now at the end of the last age, to do away with sin by sacrificing himself. Since men only die once, and after that comes judgement, so Christ, too, offers himself only once to take the faults of many on himself, and when he appears a second time, it will not be to deal with sin but to reward with salvation those who are waiting for him.
In other words, brothers, through the blood of Jesus we have the right to enter the sanctuary, by a new way which he had opened for us, a living opening through the curtain, that is to say, his body. And we have the supreme high priest over all the house of God. So as we go in, let us be sincere in heart and filled with faith, our minds sprinkled and free from any trace of bad conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us keep firm in the hope we profess, because the one who made the promise is faithful.
Jesus said to his disciples, “You see how it is written that the Christ would suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that, in his name, repentance for the forgiveness of sins would be preached to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses to this.
“And now I am sending down to you what the Father has promised. Stay in the city then, until you are clothed with the power from on high.” Then he took them out as far as the outskirts of Bethany, and lifting up his hands he blessed them. Now as he blessed them, he withdrew from them and was carried up to heaven. They worshipped him and then went back to Jerusalem full of joy; and they were continually in the Temple praising God.
What makes Jesus’ sacrifice so effective against sin is that it was his own body and blood that washes away sin. The blood that the high priest offers is not his own. The high priest makes no sacrifice in offering the lamb. Jesus does, and he did so in love.
As witnesses to his death and resurrection, we are above all witnesses to his love. We have been given the task to bring the news of his love, and God’s forgiveness of sins, to all men and women around the world. And of course the only way to do this is to do it in love. We cannot be preaching about love without loving those we are preaching to.
Love is not mere sentiment or romantic feeling. This is not the kind of love that Jesus had in offering himself for the forgiveness of sin. The kind of love that Jesus did it in is one of self-sacrifice. That is what love is, and we are witnesses to this.
Jesus has told us, “Love one another as I have loved you.” By this he meant to sacrifice ourselves for one another for the good of one another.
Reflect on how much loving you have been doing in the world and ask the Lord to send you power from on high to carry out the mission which he has entrusted to us.
Dear Lord, we ask for forgiveness for not loving others in the way you loved us. Help us to be more loving people. Amen.
Give Thanks to the Lord for: Showing the way.
You Should Also Check Out This Post:
- Sunday, July 1 - Are you free to say ‘No’?
- Saturday, June 30 - Hospitality
- Friday, June 29 - Keeping the faith
- Wednesday, June 27 - The golden rule of truth
- Question: What’s the connection between pre-marital sex and adultery?