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"So they left the mountain called Olives and returned to Jerusalem. It was a little over a half a mile. They went to the upper room they had been using as a meeting place: Peter, James, John, Andrew, Philip, Thomas, Bartholomew, Matthew, James, son of Alpheus, Simon the Zealot, Judas, son of James. "They agreed they were in this for good, completely together in prayer, the women included. Also Jesus' mother, Mary, and His brothers." Acts 1:12-14 (The Message).
This seems like a pathetically small group of followers after three years and a spectacular life of miracles and teaching like no other rabbi. God had once said to His people when they felt overwhelmed by their circumstances, "Who despises the day of small things?" Zechariah 4:10 (NIV)
The people of God had returned from exile and, after many years, they had finally rebuilt their temple, but it was an inferior temple to the one built by Solomon. They wept but God reassured them that the glory of the latter temple would exceed the glory of the former. Of course, He was referring prophetically to the human temple He would occupy after Jesus' work of restoration through the cross.
These few people in the upper room were now right in line for the fulfilment of that prophecy. They were few in number but their potential was huge because of the one fact which Luke noted. They were in this together. Together they prayed and waited for the promise to be fulfilled.
Adam's decision to go it alone had severed him from God and shattered the image of God in him, the oneness (ECHAD) that reflected the oneness between Father, Son and Holy Spirit. "Hear O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one..." Deuteronomy 6:4 (NIV). It was imperative that this small group of people be of one heart and mind so that the Holy Spirit could have unrestricted access to their spirits.
At the beginning of human history, when the people banded together to set up a false religion in rebellion against God, God said, "'If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them.'" Genesis 11:8 (NIV).
In few days' time Babel would be reversed. Their unity would be the environment into which the Holy Spirit would come to set them on the path of restoring what Adam had destroyed in the Garden of Eden.
Jesus' prayer just before His arrest gives us a glimpse into His heart. His final request was "'that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.'" John 17:21 (NIV).
This unity is initiated by the Spirit but maintained by the mutual submission of God's people. "Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace." Ephesians 4:2, 3 (NIV).
These disciples had decided to stick together, to do life together and to go it together and in that decision and their actions that followed, they paved the way for the Spirit's coming and His work in and through them.
They had made their decision – they were in this together, for good!
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