The opening two verses connect the reader to Luke 1:1–4, and just as in Luke, they are addressed to Theophilus. Acts takes up where the gospel of Luke left off, that is, with the resurrection of Jesus.
In verses 4–8, Luke records Jesus’ final words to His disciples before He ascends to His Father. The disciples’ question of verse 6 is a natural one. As resurrected Messiah, will Jesus now bring down the curtain of history, restore Israel to her rightful place, and reign over all creation? Jesus makes it clear that before this happens, there is more to be done, but it is not merely human work, it is Spirit-empowered witness.
So they are to wait (v. 4), and they will receive power (v. 8)—this is the gift of God to His people of which John the Baptist was speaking (v. 5)—the baptism of the Holy Spirit. The effect of this baptism is that the Holy Spirit will enable the church in its witness. Your witness today is one part of a two-part witness. You witness, but as you do, the Holy Spirit also witnesses with you (see John 15:26–27).
Jesus then ascends to the right hand of the Father (v. 9; Acts 2:33). The proof of this, says Peter, is the outpouring of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:32–33). The disciples are reminded that just as Jesus has gone up, so He will come down. These heavenly messengers, similar to those who announced the resurrection (Luke 24:4), now remind the church that Jesus, who has just ascended, will come back again (vv. 10–11). This implies a limited time to work until Jesus returns.
Jesus spoke of His ascension in Luke 22:69. His resurrection culminated in His ascension, and His ascension means His total exaltation to the right hand of God where He intercedes for us (Romans 8:34). He now occupies the highest place (Philippians 2:9) He bestows gifts to His people (Ephesians 4:11) and from the place of exaltation, He will return in triumph to bring in the new heaven and the new earth.
It is little wonder that Paul encourages us to set our hearts and minds on the things above where Christ is seated at God’s right hand (Colossians 3:1–3).
Think of the ways in which Christ’s ascension can be a source of blessing for you. What is He doing at the Father’s right hand?
What do you think the ascension meant to the Lord Jesus?