“Then the apostles returned to Jerusalem from the hill called the Mount of Olives, a Sabbath day’s walk from the city. 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. They joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers”
(Acts 1:12-14, NIV)
(Acts 1:12-14, NIV)
Lord Jesus ascended to heaven (1:9) from the Mount of Olives, near Bethany. After the angels told the apostles that He would surely come again, they returned to Jerusalem, about 5/8 mile or about 1 kilometre (my NIV note) away. They stayed there as Jesus had commanded (1:4) and spent the days in “constant prayer” in an upper room. I noticed that Jesus’ disciples had a habit of praying together. This was part of Jesus’ legacy to them. Remember when they asked Jesus, “Lord, teach us to pray” (Luke 11:1)? Jesus examples of constant prayer had influenced His disciples all over the world. Prayer is a wonderful privilege and every true Christian should seek the Lord’s face in prayer every day.
If you count how many of the apostles left after Jesus’ ascension, you’ll find out that there is one person missing – Judas Iscariot. He wants his own agenda and political version of messiah, thus rejected Jesus as the Suffering Messiah. He also loved money rather than Jesus, fall into temptation by listening to Satan’s lies and sold Jesus for 30 pieces of silver. When Judas realised what he had done, he didn’t repent but went out and killed himself. Both Peter and Judas denied Jesus. But as for Peter, he quickly repented of his sins and was restored with the apostles and become their leader again. Others who were praying in the upper room were “the women” who had loved and followed Jesus faithfully. One of them was “Mary the mother of Jesus,” and with her were “his brothers” [Jesus’ step-brothers, refer to Mark 6:3 for their names]. These brothers did not believe in Jesus at first (John 7:5) but after His death and resurrection, they realized that He was truly the Son of God, the Saviour of the World.
Now, imagine this with me: imagine the different kind of people gathered in the upper room (Close your eyes first, and imagine). Let me just select few of them here – Peter was very impulsive and acted cowardly, but after this he became bold and courageous; James was selfish, conceited, vengeful and fiery, but after that he became committed apostle for Christ and courageous even to the point of death; John was like his brother, James, very judgmental and power-craze but after that he became bold, loving and compassionate; Thomas was so doubtful and inquisitive but then he became courageous and faithful to the end; Simon was a Zealot, which means he was very patriotic and loyal to the nation but he became a changed man, passionate and sacrificial in his service for Christ; Judas (or Jude) and James, the brothers of Jesus, were very sceptical of Jesus’ identity as the Son of God soon became leaders of Jerusalem church and both authored the Epistle of James and Epistle of Jude; among “the women” was Mary Magdalene, who has been identified as a sinful women (perhaps a prostitute) and was possessed from seven demons, now became a faithful follower of Jesus and being listed as having a leadership role among the women.
All of them “joined together constantly in prayer” (1:14). This is very encouraging to me – and I hope to you too. Their Lord and Master is one, Jesus; their common faith and love is one, Jesus; their uniting power is one, Jesus. Even though we come from difference sets of background, gender, race, ideology and status like Jesus’ disciples – in Christ – we are one. Praying together (or prayer meeting we called it today), have the power to unite us together. As we pray, we wait for God to act among us. Oh yes!
THINK BIG. START SMALL. GO DEEP.