Ascension Week – Part 3

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Devotional Word for Wednesday, May 20, 2020

As we consider what Jesus taught the disciples during those 40 days between Resurrection Sunday and Ascension Day, we soon discover Jesus not only taught the disciples some things, He “untaught” them some things. Let me give you a couple of examples.

In Acts 1:6-7 we see a telling interaction between the disciples and Jesus. So, when they had come together, they were asking Him, saying, “Lord, is it at this time You are restoring the kingdom to Israel?” This subject had been on the disciples’ minds for quite some time. If you remember, the mother of the brothers James and John had asked Jesus to have her sons sit on either side of Him when He came in His kingdom. They thought it would happen sooner rather than later. We noted yesterday how disappointed were the two men walking from Jerusalem to Emmaus. They told the stranger [who was really Jesus, of course] their hopes for Jesus of Nazareth: . . . Jesus the Nazarene . . . was a prophet mighty in deed and word in the sight of God and all the people. . . we were hoping that it was He who was going to redeem Israel. [Luke 24:19, 21] 

Here’s how the resurrected Jesus answered the age-old question raised by His followers: He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority.” [Acts 1:7] What could be more clear? He’s telling them not to worry about it. They’re not going to know. I think there are more than a handful of folk today who need to be “untaught” on the same issue! I know I had to be. There was a period of time when I knew with great certainty when these things would happen. I knew it could happen as early as 1984, but certainly no later than 2004! This is one thing we need to learn as we focus on Jesus’ teaching during the 40 days between His Resurrection and His Ascension: regarding times and epochs, it’s not for you to know.

The other example I want us to look at today is found in the last chapter of John’s gospel. Jesus is speaking with Peter. He’s telling Peter that God is sovereign over Peter’s life. Here’s what He says: Truly, truly I say to you, when you were younger, you used to gird yourself and walk wherever you wished; but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands and someone else will gird you, and bring you where you do not wish to go. We are told, Now this Jesus said, signifying by what kind of death Peter would glorify God. And when He had spoken this, He said to Peter, “Follow Me!” [John 21:18-19] Here we have some plain teaching as well. God knows what His plan for us is. Our main goal should be to follow Jesus! Wherever He leads. 

Peter had some trouble doing that. So do we. Peter points out John, the Beloved Disciple, and said to Jesus, “Lord, and what about this man?” [v.21] Now I know you’ve never done anything like that, but I certainly have! It’s always a temptation to compare ourselves to others. Some do this and get all pumped up. Others do it and get all discouraged! 

Jesus has a good word for Peter – and for us! It will help us get “untaught” about the trap of comparisons, as trap into which we fall all too often. Jesus said to Peter, “If I want him (John) to remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow Me!” [v.22] Hello! Can you hear that? Our first priority is to follow Jesus. We’re not to compare or contrast ourselves with others. 

May the Holy Spirit get us “untaught” on these two matters: 1) It’s not for us to know times and epochs. So, stop it! 2) We’re not to compare our walk with the Lord, to someone else’s walk with the Lord: our focus is to follow Jesus. These two issues are part of what Jesus “untaught” His followers during the 40 days between His Resurrection and His Ascension.  Let us pray: Lord Jesus, we’re thankful (though somewhat embarrassed) that You know us so well. Thank You for Your forbearance with us. Thank You that You continue to teach us and show us how to follow You. We want to hear and heed Your counsel. Please send the Holy Spirit to comfort us, to guide us, and to use us in Your service. We pray this through Your gracious provision. Amen.