This chapter sets the record straight about who Jesus was, what he did, and what he expected his disciples to do.
First, Luke’s account has stamped all over it the: space-time-history of the events recorded herein. He wants Theophilus to recall his gospel account of Jesus’ works and teachings. Noteworthy is Luke’s focus on the final three to four years of Jesus’ life rather than on the earlier ones (vv.1-2). Luke doesn’t bother to satisfy our contemporary curiosities. Instead he gives us what we need to know to attain eternal life.
Second, through the Holy Spirit Jesus chose and ordered the disciples/apostles to be his witnesses, not God’s prophetic end time forecasters (vv.7-8). The reason is because he who was dead was now alive forevermore (the core message in Acts), he “presented Himself alive after his suffering, by many convincing proofs, appearing to them over a period of forty days and speaking of the things concerning the kingdom of God” (v.3). Note the centrality of the resurrection account and the duration of forty days.
Biblically, when forty years or forty days are disclosed in scripture God either: reveals His law (E.g., to Moses), disciplines His people (E.g., Israel’s wilderness wanderings), or prepares His people for ministry (E.g., Jesus tempted in the wilderness). Now with the resurrected Jesus walking, talking and eating with the disciples, God demonstrates his faithfulness to perform His promise.
So, what do all these events have in common? They demonstrate that: God illumines our darkness (thus we need his law), God desires our holiness (thus we need his discipline), God will rescue His own (thus we needed Jesus, the second Adam, to ready himself), and God accomplishes this rescue by conquering death itself. The resurrection of Jesus is God’s exclamation mark in history that He is there and He is not silent. And for those who doubt, the text reveals that just as Jesus was taken up from their midst, he will return some day in like manner (vv.9-11).
Third, the community of believers consisted of the apostles, the women, Mary Jesus’ mother, Jesus’ brothers and about 120 others. What they didn’t know was how their message would spread and eventually effect human history. BTW, to profess to be a Christian and not be part of a community, a church body is contradictory to the book of Acts.
Fourth, Peter stood among these and spoke concerning the need to replace Judas and points to his tragic end as that which had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit foretold through King David long ago.
Fifth, Peter articulated Judas’ wicked deeds as one who was either: innocent, forgiven, self-righteous or one who was truthfully setting the record straight concerning these events. Not long before this, it’s Peter who betrays Jesus by denying him three times. But something happened to Peter; Jesus prayed for him and was thus kept from eternal ruin. Peter was neither innocent nor self-righteous, he was forgiven and a bearer of the truth.
What does Peter teach us today? We learn that death is swallowed up in victory because of Jesus’ resurrection from the dead. That’s why Peter was forgiven and now as Jesus foretold, Peter is strengthening his brothers (vv.16-20). We also learn that even the worst sin, if repented of, can be used by God for our good and those of the community, the church. Therefore, if we fall into egregious sin, the Savior can use it to strengthen not just us, but also those we influence.
Sixth, Judas’ place had to be occupied by an eyewitness of Jesus’ life and deeds (vv.21-22) and the drawing of lots was the means used to replace Judas. This fell to Mathias who filled the vacancy.
As I think about this glorious gospel of God’s grace in Christ my prayer is that I will live a life worthy of the calling, that I would lay aside the sin that so easily entangles me, and that I would run this race with perseverance by fixing my eyes on Jesus the author and finisher of my faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross despising the shame and has sat down at the right hand of God’s throne.