Until the day he was taken up to heaven after giving his chosen apostles further instructions through the Holy Spirit. – Acts 1:2
On the day of His rising, Jesus met two of His followers on the road to Emmaus. There were of the inner circle of believers, but not part of the twelve apostles.
They could only listen in amazement as an apparent stranger (actually Jesus) spoke to them in what may have seemed to be a very rude fashion —
“You foolish people! You find it so hard to believe all that the prophets wrote in the Scriptures. 26 Wasn’t it clearly predicted that the Messiah would have to suffer all these things before entering his glory?” – Luke 24:25-26
And with that basic outline – sufferings followed by glory – He walked through the entire story of scripture. The story made sense with a Messiah at the centre of it all and at the end of it all.
With such ferocious hope freshly kindled, they hurried back into the danger zone of Jerusalem, re-entering the barricaded room where the grieving apostles were hiding. Suddenly, Jesus Himself was in the room. Jesus gave even more detail to how He wold enter His glory – His name would be honoured world over as forgiveness of sins was declared to all peoples. The He added a significant item for their strategic obedience – the global expansion of His glory would be launched from Jerusalem.
As Luke goes on to tell the story in Acts, during the next 39 days Jesus went over the kingdom of God many times. During one of these encounters, Jesus gave them firm orders not to leave Jerusalem. Telling people not to leave town may seem like a strange way to launch a missionary movement. But one fact, often overlooked, will help – Jerusalem was not their home. These men were from Galilee.
Jerusalem was the most dangerous place on the planet for them. Avowed enemies, with power great enough to murder with impunity, had sought to arrest them in the garden days before and would likely try again. No wonder Luke records that He told them to stay in Jerusalem.
Jesus’ instruction to stay in Jerusalem focused on the fulfillment of God’s promise, both what the Father had promised and what Jesus had told them —
“Do not leave Jerusalem until the Father sends you the gift he promised, as I told you before. John baptized with water, but in just a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” – Acts 1:4-5
They remained where it was most strategic – and yet most dangerous. They were arrested, shamed, censured and beaten more than once. Still they continued. Eventually, James was killed. Even then, they remained in Jerusalem, refusing to flee. Peter was arrested. It took an angelic deliverance to eventually convince him to seek a safer place out-of-town. There is no indication that any of the rest of the twelve went with him.