Jesus opens the disciples’ minds revealing how his ministry, life, death and resurrection were all in Scripture; the preaching of the Gospel to the nations will also be the fulfilment of Scripture.
As he commissions them and tells them to wait in Jerusalem for the Holy Spirit, there is an echo of the annunciation (Luke 1:35): It is time for childless Israel to give birth to her long awaited children among the nations, for the barren woman to rejoice and enlarge her tent. (Isaiah 54)
This reveals to us that it is the very nature of Christ’s church to have children: to share the Gospel and see people born again into God’s family. When we see little or no fruit of conversion we should share the sorrow of the childless women of Scripture. But God would remind us of our calling, reorient us towards it and encourage us that his purposes for us are for us to be fruitful and see people saved.
To do this God would challenge and encourage us in the following ways:
Firstly (vs 45), to fall in love with the Bible again, to have a heart for mission we need the mind of Christ. God calls us to learn not just the doctrine of Scripture, but its patterns of thinking, its language and pictures in which we find God’s heart for the lost again and again. In particular, as we pray the Psalms we are shaped prophetically by the prayer of Christ himself.
Secondly (vs 47), to sharpen our personal understanding of the kerygma – the Gospel proclamation. The kerygma can be summarised as: God’s loves you, made you for relationship with himself and has a plan for your life. Sin has separated you from God. Christ died and rose again for your sin. If you repent and put your faith in Jesus God will forgive your sins and set you free, he will give you the Holy Spirit and enable you to live a new life. This basic proclamation is not the whole faith, but is incredibly powerful in its ability to call people to faith.
Thirdly (vs 48), to remind us that we are to be witnesses – the Apostles were chosen to preach because they had personally experienced the ministry of Christ. Likewise, the power of our own Gospel preaching comes from knowing Christ’s power in our own lives. God wants to renew our own enjoyment of being Christians so that we will share him out of the overflow of our own lives.
Fourthly (vs 49), God would remind us that the power from on high that we desire when we gather together is not just for our own sake, but for the sake of the nations, those who don’t know Christ. He would warn us away from being insular and self-serving in our church life and personal faith. Our own enjoyment of communion with God is inseparable from our desire for a fertile faith that results in new-life for others. Without that desire our worship of God ends up becoming sterile, idolatrous and rebellious.