We move past the four first books of the New Testament called the gospels — Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. And the story of Christianity is not ending. It’s barely beginning.
One of those four authors of the gospels is compelled to tell the rest of the story. Luke wants the entire world — Gentiles as well as Jews — to hear what Jesus taught and did while alive.
But that’s not all! Luke also wants them to know about the things that occur after Jesus dies. He wants people to hear about the resurrection, the 40 day period Jesus was still here — over and over again convincingly proving to people that he had risen from the grave — and Jesus’ ascension into heaven. He desires the whole world to know the story of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the apostles and the dramatic growth of the Christian church in the early years.
So Luke writes a book titled, “The Acts of the Apostles”. It is addressed to a gentleman named Theophilus, a double-entendre name which means both “the one loved by God” and “the one who loves God”. What a great both-and!
This book is a necessary reminder of the power of the resurrection, the miraculous work of the Holy Spirit, and the passion of Jesus — and later the apostles — to spread the kingdom of God.
Why a “necessary reminder”?
Because you may be a “Theophilus” as well. You are one who loves God because you were first loved by God. You want to have the entire account of Jesus’ work. You want to hear once again how God loves you, and not only you, but the entire world. You want to be reminded that he still wants us to share his kingdom, and you love to watch the Spirit go to work in our world.
It’s a “necessary reminder” because our world today is a very tough world when it comes to matters of faith and Christ. Please don’t be discouraged or disheartened by that. We can be confident in the Holy Spirit’s power! If he could spread the kingdom aggressively in Luke’s world, he can certainly, through word and sacrament (and through us), do the same today!
“In my former book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach until the day he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles he had chosen. After his suffering, he presented himself to them and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God” (Acts 1:1-3, NIV).
Our Bible reading for Wednesday, June 3, is 2 Samuel 3:22 – 5:5, Acts 1:1-22 and Psalm 69:13-28.
Lord, I am convinced! I trust that you can and will keep your church alive and thriving, as it was in the days of the early church. May the book of Acts be a strong encouragement to me to keep sharing the gospel with others. I know that I am passionately loved by you. Send me your Spirit through word and sacrament that I may be one who loves you passionately — and shares your love with the world, as Luke did.
Header image based on "The earth and the sea" by khrawlings, CC By 2.0