Luke begins by giving a shout to Theophilus and pointing us towards a little gem he wrote called The Gospel of Luke. Ever heard of it?
Basically, that book told the story of Jesus. All the awesome things he said and did and the super cool way he died and came back to life again. It's pretty swell. You should definitely check it out sometime.
Anyhoo… Acts starts with Jesus already back in black. He decides to hang around with all his favorite disciples for forty days. Not typical behavior for a dead guy, but we are talking about Jesus here.
So while Jesus is hanging around, he gives the disciples (whom Luke calls apostles) some advice. Don't leave Jerusalem—good stuff is about to start happening. Also, don't worry so much about how Jesus is gonna fix all the Jewish people's problems. He's totally going to. He's just not telling when.
He Ascended Into Heaven And All That Good Stuff
One day, while hanging on the Mount of Olives, Jesus tells the apostles that they're gonna be his "witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth." Wow. That's a pretty tall order.
Just then, Jesus is lifted up into the air and a cloud takes him away. Whoa!
The apostles are all like, "What the what?" when two other guys dressed in white robes come along. No worries, the two guys tell the apostles. Jesus went up into Heaven and he's gonna come back in the same way. So look for that. We get the feeling those weren't just two random guys.
Okay, so after that, the apostles head back into Jerusalem.
There's a whole group of them staying in a room in the city. You've got Peter, John, James, Andrew, Philip, Thomas, Bartholomew, Matthew, James son of Alphaeus, Simon the Zealot, and Judas son of James. That brings their number to eleven. (Judas Iscariot is no longer welcome. He knows why.)
In addition to these dudes, there were also some women who stayed with them, Mary the mother of Jesus, and some of Jesus's brothers, too. It was a pretty full house.
Around this time, Peter gives a little speech to a crowd of about 120 believers.
He explains that Judas was part of the inner circle before he became a nasty little turncoat. Now he needs to be replaced.
Apparently, in the time between his betrayal of Jesus and now, Judas bought himself a nice piece of land (he had just come into thirty pieces of silver). But then oops! He took a nasty fall and "burst open in the middle and all his bowels gushed out." Um, gross.
So, we need a new apostle #12. Who's it gonna be?
Peter lays down the qualifications: this new dude has to have been hanging around since the baptism of John and until Jesus was taken up into Heaven. Wow, they are not casting a wide net for applicants.
Surprisingly, two different guys fit the bill exactly—Joseph called Barsabbas and Matthias.
The apostles pray for God to help them choose. Then they cast lots (God, apparently, loves gambling) and Matthias comes out on top.