Usually when we consider this passage of Scripture our focus is upon v11 where the angelic messengers deliver the wonderful promise of Jesus' return. That is a great promise! It is reassuring to know that 'this same Jesus' will return one day, just as the disciples had watched Him ascend up into the heavens.
However, tonight I would like to turn your attention to the phrase, "Why stand ye here gazing?" This question is like many that we use today. Someone tells you something and you ask, "What were you thinking?" They really don't want to know what you were thinking. A teacher returns to her classroom only to find the students acting like a bunch of monkeys. She asks, "What is going on here?" She isn't looking for a response from the students.
The question in our text reminds me of when the Lord came to Adam and asked, "Adam, where art thou?" (Ge. 3:9) It wasn't that the Lord didn't know where Adam was; it was that He wanted Adam to realize where he was. In our text this evening, the messengers were not interested in the disciples' response to this question. They asked it that they might realize that this wasn't what they were supposed to be doing…they weren't supposed to be standing around gazing up into the sky. They had been given specific instruction by the resurrected Lord!
I. Stop Gazing and Obey the Lord v4
A. Who were 'they'?
1. Not just the eleven…
2. This is the infant church…the local assembly in Jerusalem.
3. Later we find that at least 120 or so were assembling together.
B. They had been told to tarry in Jerusalem
1. They are not now in Jerusalem…they were most likely on Mt. Olivet, about a mile away.
2. They cannot stay on the mountain top, no matter how exciting it was.
3. They must leave where they are, and go to Jerusalem.
4. When they arrive there great things will happen.
C. When the local church obeys the first directions others will come.
1. That is important for us tonight.
2. We must stop gazing and obey the Lord's command.
3. Samuel told Saul, "…To obey is better than sacrifice…"
4. God puts a premium on obedience.
5. If there is a lesson that we must learn from God's dealing with the nation of Israel it is a lesson of obedience.
De 11:26-28 Behold, I set before you this day a blessing and a curse; A blessing, if ye obey the commandments of the LORD your God, which I command you this day: And a curse, if ye will not obey the commandments of the LORD your God, but turn aside out of the way which I command you this day, to go after other gods, which ye have not known.
II. Stop Gazing and Go and Wait v4
Lu 24:49 And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high.
A. How exciting is that?
1. I know of very few people who enjoy waiting.
2. Many not only do not enjoy waiting…we hate to have to wait!
3. Have you been to the automated check-outs at Wal-mart or Kroger?
4. What a scam…you think you will get out quicker
5. But if there is a problem (and there almost always is) you have to wait!
6. They have one person overseeing four of these automated check-outs…don't you love to hear a machine tell you what to do?
B. The disciples were ready for the kingdom!
1. They were convinced that it was time.
2. The tragedy of Calvary had turned into victory with the resurrection.
3. They thought surely now would be the time for the Lord to establish His kingdom and they were anxious for that to take place.
4. But the Lord rebuked them and reminded them of what they were supposed to do.
5. Go back to Jerusalem and wait for God's power to come upon them.
C. Their Prayer meeting turned into a Power meeting!
1. They went to Jerusalem and went to the Upper Room (v. 13)
2. We know that it would be 10 days before the Holy Ghost would come and empower them to do the work God had called them to do…
3. But they didn't know how long it would be!
4. Still they were obedient…even though they didn't fully understand God's plan.
5. There is a great example there for us tonight.
6. We must wait for God's power and direction in our lives.
Ps 127:1a, "Except the LORD build the house, they labour in vain that build it…"
D. While they were waiting they were busy.
1. They put away all their differences and prayed together. v14
2. They studied the Word…and then applied the Scripture. v16
3. They chose someone to fill the vacancy left by Judas' suicide.
4. This was the first local church business meeting in recorded history.
III. Stop Gazing and Let God Work v8
A. They were to be His witnesses ... so are we
1. Witness = Gr. 'martus'
2. From the same root that we get the English word 'martyr' (used to refer to Stephen)
3. A witness is one who is called to bear record of a truth.
4. That is what we are to do…to bear record of the Truth!
5. We must stop standing around gazing, and get busy bearing record of Jesus Christ!
B. They didn't know what would happen in just 10 days, but God did!
Ac 1:8 But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.
1. The Lord knew He was going to use Peter and this infant church to reach thousands of people with the Truth.
2. Remember Peter has gone through such discouragement just a few days earlier.
3. But the Lord was about to do something remarkable with him.
4. We are still seeing the effects of what took place on the day of Pentecost.
5. We have the Gospel today, because they stopped gazing and started witnessing.
6. Who is waiting for us to come tell them of the love of God and the way to Heaven?
IV. Stop Gazing - Jesus is Coming Back v11
A. "This same Jesus" will return
1. The One who cared for the lost and dying
2. The One who wept over hurting people
3. The One who died and rose again
B. When He returns we will have no more time.
1. No time for gazing … the time is short!
2. No more opportunity to witness for Him.
3. No more work for us to do … time's up!
C. When He returns we will all give an account.
2Co 5:10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.
John 9:4b, "…The night cometh, when no man can work."
As we consider this heavenly challenge to the first church, we must realize the application for us as well. This is a corporate challenge to Grace Baptist Temple, and an individual challenge to each one of us here this evening.
It is time for us to 'stop gazing' and get to work for the Lord. We need to be about our Father's business. Too often we let our agenda take precedence over what God has called us to do. Heed the challenge tonight.