An introduction to the book of Acts gives us insight and understanding to “what happened next” after Jesus ascended back to heaven. The words of Eugene Petersen, (The Message), are as timely now as when he wrote it several years earlier. He reminds us to “live it” with God living in us, “acting through us” to the next generation because that is what Jesus’ disciples did for us.
“Because the story of Jesus is so impressive—God among us! God speaking a language we can understand! God acting in ways that heal and help and save us!—there is a danger that we will be impressed, but only be impressed. As the spectacular dimensions of this story slowly (or suddenly) dawn upon us, we could easily become enthusiastic spectators, and then let it go at that—become admirers of Jesus, generous with our oohs and ahs, and in our better moments inspired to imitate him.” (Peterson.)
“It is Luke’s task to prevent that, to prevent us from becoming mere spectators to Jesus, fans of the Message. Of the original quartet of writers, (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John), on Jesus, Luke alone continues to tell the story as the apostles and disciples live it into the next generation. The remarkable thing is that it continues to be essentially the same story. Luke continues his narration hardly a break, a pause perhaps to dip his pen in the inkwell, writing in the same style, using the same vocabulary.” (Peterson)
“The story of Jesus doesn’t end with Jesus. It continues in the lives of those who believe in Him. The supernatural does not stop with Jesus. Luke makes it clear that these Christians he wrote about were no ore spectators of Jesus than Jesus was a spectator of God—they are in on the action of God, God acting in them, God living in them. Which also means, of course, in us.” (Peterson)
In the coming days may we prayerfully and thoughtfully consider these words of Dr. Luke as a letter written directly to us so that we may know Jesus more, not merely be impressed by what Jesus did, by inviting the One and Only to live in us. May we then see God’s “acts” growing fruitfully in us.
Ready? Let’s begin.
ACTS—God’s Acts through His People
Acts 1:1-11, The Message
To the Ends of the World
1-5 Dear Theophilus, in the first volume of this book I wrote on everything that Jesus began to do and teach until the day he said good-bye to the apostles, the ones he had chosen through the Holy Spirit, and was taken up to heaven. After his death, he presented himself alive to them in many different settings over a period of forty days. In face-to-face meetings, he talked to them about things concerning the kingdom of God. As they met and ate meals together, he told them that they were on no account to leave Jerusalem but “must wait for what the Father promised: the promise you heard from me. John baptized in water; you will be baptized in the Holy Spirit. And soon.”
6 When they were together for the last time they asked, “Master, are you going to restore the kingdom to Israel now? Is this the time?”
7-8 He told them, “You don’t get to know the time. Timing is the Father’s business. What you’ll get is the Holy Spirit. And when the Holy Spirit comes on you, you will be able to be my witnesses in Jerusalem, all over Judea and Samaria, even to the ends of the world.”
9-11 These were his last words. As they watched, he was taken up and disappeared in a cloud. They stood there, staring into the empty sky. Suddenly two men appeared—in white robes! They said, “You Galileans!—why do you just stand here looking up at an empty sky? This very Jesus who was taken up from among you to heaven will come as certainly—and mysteriously—as he left.”
Friends, Jesus IS coming back! But in the meantime, Jesus comes to live in us who believe, really believe, that He is Savior and Lord of our lives. As promised to His disciples, and now to us, His Holy Spirit lives and works in us, developing and maturing His character traits in us so we live lives pleasing to God AND so that others can be pointed to Him, too!
We were created to worship God. The ultimate way to worship Him is in giving our lives to God. In “living it” to the next generation, we proclaim salvation for all who will listen and believe! Before ascending back to heaven, this is the mission that Jesus, led by God, passing on full authority of God, tells His disciples,
“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely, I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20, NIV)
This is our mission today. Did you get that amazing promise at the end? “AND surely, I am with you always…to the very end of the age.”
Savior and Lord,
Thank you for saving our souls, living in us, so we may live you out loud to others who need you, too. Thank you for always being with us. Thank you for forgiving us when we stray and pulling us back to the real mission. Thank you for protection and provisions enough to share. Thank you for life to the full all because of You living in me. Nothing will separate us, absolutely nothing. Just knowing this gives me confidence for this, another day on earth to “live it”.
In Jesus Name, Amen