What are you waiting for? Waiting is hard. Are you waiting well? Or are you waiting poorly? What does waiting well look like? As we continue studying Acts 1, we’ve arrived at verses 12-14, where the disciples are waiting, and they show us how to wait well.
After Jesus left them, we read that they returned to Jerusalem, worshiping God, and that “they all joined together constantly in prayer.” Who is the “they” doing the waiting in this passage? The writer mentions the remaining 11 disciples by name, as well as the women and brothers of Jesus. Verse 15 says that group is about 120 people. That’s all the first church started with. And how did they start? They worshiped (as we read in Luke 24:50), and they prayed as they waited. The witnessing would soon come.
I have so many questions about the waiting. Did they start to doubt? Did they wonder, whatever this baptism of the Spirit was that Jesus told them to wait for, why was it taking so long?
Or were they totally changed by Jesus by this point, through his teaching, his miracles, and especially his resurrection, and ascension, that their faith was strong? Even if they were changed, don’t you think that after day 2 or 3, constantly in prayer, at least some of them would start to wonder how long this should take? Earlier in verse 5 Jesus said it would be “a few days.” Well, what does that mean? 2 days? 5 days? More? Or am I just speaking out my American impatience? Also, think about the logistics and finances as each day passed. Don’t you think there had to be conversations about how they were paying to feed everyone? Were they all paying to stay in rented rooms? Think about all the normal human emotions in the mix! Did they argue with one another about what to do?
And yet it seems that they were changed and trusting in him. Why do I say that?
Because they do what Jesus said in Luke 18. Remember that story? You can read my post about it, but here I’ll summarize it: Jesus tells a parable teaching the disciples to pray and not give up! We Christians should have lives marked by consistent and persistent prayer.
We do read that they did one other thing as they were waiting. There is a leadership vacancy they have to fill. You can read the account in Acts 1:15-26, as Peter stands up and leads the group in a discernment process to fill the open 12th slot, left vacant by Judas, on the team of disciples.
In this story there a few unique elements that are never mentioned again in the New Testament. First, the two candidates to fill the slot: Matthias and Joseph called Justus. Never mentioned again. Second, the final method of selection, which was the casting of lots. Also never mentioned again.
But there are some other aspects of this story that will become very common as we keep studying Acts. First, Peter’s leadership. We’re going to hear a lot more from him. Second, notice that he uses the Old Testament to guide them. They are people of the Bible, which was for them the Hebrew Bible we call the Old Testament. And almost certainly, he wasn’t reading, but quoting from memory, because it was very expensive to own a copy of even one scroll. Third, they used a criteria for who could become leaders. They did not just allow anyone to be a leader. Instead, only people who were with them from the beginning, and had seen Jesus resurrected, could be candidates. In the rest of Acts they won’t use these same two criteria again, but they will have standards for leaders. Finally, they pray, giving the decision over to God. Matthias is selected to be the new 12th disciple, and Acts 1 ends with a promise yet to be fulfilled. The Spirit has not yet come.
And they are still waiting. But they are praying as they wait. How are you waiting? Even when the waiting seems long, even when God seems distant, will you pray and not give up? Just as the disciples and community of followers of Jesus were together, it is best to surround yourself with a similar community as you wait. It could be your church family, your small group, or loving friends and family. As you wait and pray, do so in community.