When Jesus ascended back into heaven He promised a gift from the Father would come. He did not tell them how long they would wait, but He did say don’t go home. They trusted that the wait would be short enough that they would not want have to return to fishing in Galilee. Scripture gives us some insight into their waiting period which we know was 10 days. The Holy Spirit came on Pentecost which was 10 days after Christ’s ascension into heaven. Acts 1:12-14 “Then the apostles returned to Jerusalem from the hill called the Mount of Olives, a Sabbath day’s walk from the city. 13 When they arrived, they went upstairs to the room where they were staying. Those present were Peter, John, James and Andrew; Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew; James son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot, and Judas son of James. 14 They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers.”
During those days of prayer and fellowship they came to the decision that they needed to chose another apostle to take Judas’ place due to his betrayal of Christ and suicide. Acts 1:15-17 “In those days Peter stood up among the believers (a group numbering about a hundred and twenty) 16 and said, “Brothers and sisters, the Scripture had to be fulfilled in which the Holy Spirit spoke long ago through David concerning Judas, who served as guide for those who arrested Jesus. 17 He was one of our number and shared in our ministry.” Peter quoted a prophecy from Psalms in Acts 1:20 “ “For,” said Peter, “it is written in the Book of Psalms: “‘May his place be deserted; let there be no one to dwell in it,’ and, “‘May another take his place of leadership.’
They all felt that Jesus wanted them to have 12 Apostles representing the 12 tribes of Israel. There seemed to be several men that met the criteria of having been with Jesus and who had followed Him from baptism to crucifixion. This was a unique time period and in the future they no longer cast lots to chose leaders. With the Holy Spirit as their guide, they did not have to use this manner, and here is the last mention of it in the Bible. Acts 1:21-26 “ Therefore it is necessary to choose one of the men who have been with us the whole time the Lord Jesus was living among us, 22 beginning from John’s baptism to the time when Jesus was taken up from us. For one of these must become a witness with us of his resurrection.”23 So they nominated two men: Joseph called Barsabbas (also known as Justus) and Matthias. 24 Then they prayed, “Lord, you know everyone’s heart. Show us which of these two you have chosen 25 to take over this apostolic ministry, which Judas left to go where he belongs.” 26 Then they cast lots, and the lot fell to Matthias; so he was added to the eleven apostles.”
What do we take away from this scene? The disciples knew what Jesus expected of them, their mission was to tell others about Him and to live and walk with him each day. Knowing that they needed 12 Apostles, they set about identifying those amongst themselves that met the criteria of having been with Jesus. They let God choose which would take up this responsibility when they chose by casting lots. So what does God require of us as we await His return? Is it not the same? We have our mission and purpose to tell others the good news of Jesus’ love and forgiveness. We have lives to live that are to glorify Him in all we say and do. We are to walk with Him each day leaning upon His wisdom, understanding, hope and eternal justice as we seek to live humbly, before Him. AND, we have work to do as we seek to carry out His mission of telling others about Him, of His love and redemption. Waiting is not idle time but it is work time. Spreading the good news is essential and filled with purpose.
So… get up, get busy and be about His work while you wait. Study, learn, memorize, speak out, praise, pray, encourage and support one another in love until He comes again!