Who was in the upper room after Jesus ascension? First of all, what is the upper room? In Jerusalem an upper room served as a living area for a family, and could also be used for prayer, study and gatherings (Longenecker, R. N. (1981). The Acts of the Apostles. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Volume 9: John and Acts (F. E. Gaebelein, Ed.). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House). Richard Longnecker suggest that the upper room, with the definite article was well known to the early disciples and may have been in the house owned by Mary, John Mark’s mother, where the early church met for prayer on the eave of Peter’s execution (Acts 12:12) (Longenecker, R. N. (1981). The Acts of the Apostles. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Volume 9: John and Acts (F. E. Gaebelein, Ed.). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House). We also know that the disciples customarily met after Pentecost in the temple, under Solomon’s porch, presumably because of the large numbers at that time (Luke 24:53; Acts 2:46; 3:1; 5:42). Luke lists those present in the upper room in Acts 1:12-14. There are a number of people we would expect, the disciples for example, 120 altogether. A surprisingly large number considering that Jesus had been crucified, and the disciples had been concerned about their own safety. However, we discover from a very early church creed, going back, by some estimates, to the months just after the resurrection itself, that Jesus had appeared to as many as 500 people at one time. Paul the Apostle was able to say between 54-57 AD that they were mostly still living and that their testimony could be checked out concerning the risen Christ (1 Cor. 15:6). Which accounts for the large number there that day and on the day of Pentecost.

But there were a number of people there that we might not have expected. For example Jesus’ brothers were there, and they had not been sympathetic Jesus at all during his ministry. (cf. Matt. 12:46; Mark 3:31; Luke 8:19; John 7:3)! James was one, Jude was probably another, and we assume the others as well, maybe two more. They were not believers at first. They were skeptical and unbelieving. They mocked Jesus’ claim to be the Messiah, and taunted him that he should take his claim to Jerusalem and see how far it got him (John 7:3-5). On another occasion, Jesus brothers and his mother showed up to take charge of him, because he was being accused of being insane (cf. Mark 3:21; John 10:20; also – Matt. 12:46; Mark 3:31; Luke 8:19). We do not know what Mary was thinking on that occasion, or if Jesus brothers were pressuring her in an attempt to gain control of Jesus, and she was just an unwilling participant. We do know that there was misunderstanding and disbelief over Jesus’ claims and actions, and that his family was not always sympathetic to them. Even Mary didn’t fully grasp the significance of Jesus purpose and role, any why he seemed to hold back. She urged him to do a miracle that would propel his ministry and notoriety, when she asked him to do something about the lack of wine at the wedding (John 2:3-5). Jesus replied that it was not his hour, or time for that sort of thing. Jesus consistently stuck to the redemptive plan of God, in spite of temptations to hurry things along (cf. Matt. 4:1-11; 16:21-28; Mark 1:12, 13; 8:31-9:1; Luke 4:1-13; 9:21-27). Nevertheless, they are all in the upper-room after the ascension. So mother’s don’t always get it right!

However, Mary, Jesus mother was there. That was not expected, maybe. Why would she be there? Surely she had done her part; what more could she possibly do? She had borne the Son of God. She had raised him. She experienced and watched the rejection of the religious authorities and their attempts to trick him and even to kill him (cf. Matt. 2:13; 17:23; 26:4; Mark 9:31; 10:34; 11:18; 14:1; Luke 18:33; 19:47; John 5:18; 7:1; 8:59 ; 10:31; 11:8). She had witnessed the crucifixion as her own heart was pierced with pain (Luke 2:35). There were a number of Mary’s in the company of Jesus’ followers. Mary was a very common name in Palestine at that time. Mary the Mother of Jesus, Martha of Bethany’s sister, Mary, Mary Magdalene, and the other Mary who went to the tomb, who was mother of James (the younger) and of Joses, his brother (Wood, D. R. W., & Marshall, I. H. (1996). New Bible dictionary (3rd ed.). Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press).

Mary had left the scene of the crucifixion with John, after Jesus had given him responsibility for her as he died on the cross (John 19:27). Mary had heard, like everyone else that Jesus had risen from the dead. This must have been a shock beyond belief, until she saw him for herself. The fact that she was at the upper-room is evidence that she had not only seen Jesus, but was regularly in the company of those who saw him after his resurrection. When the day of Pentecost came Mary was in the thick of things with the apostles, and 120 others who would carry the main burden of the work of witnessing to the resurrection of Jesus. Mary never retired to the background or sit out. Mary the mother of Jesus was in the upper room at Pentecost!

Mary never was prominent in the early church, and is scarcely mentioned after the gospels. She does not occupy the exalted position that she later acquired in the Roman theological tradition. She was the quiet supporter of Jesus, and servant of God, just as she had been from the beginning (Luke 1:38). Mary was the one who kept the home together after the death of Joseph. And we can imagine her having to deal with the tension between Jesus and his brothers, who seem to have resented him (cf. John 7:1-3).

This is no time for mother’s to take a back seat…


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