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Mark 5 – The Contagious Messiah

In Jesus’ day there were some people you just didn’t touch.  They were “unclean.”  And if you touched somebody who was unclean then you became unclean.  Their vileness was understood to be contagious.  Much of this was set up the in priestly codes of the Old Testament and was still faithfully practiced in Jesus’ time.  Unclean people couldn’t touch other people or touch food that other people would eat.  Some had to live outside of the city (lepers and dangerous demon possessed madmen).  And certainly none could enter the Temple.  They were outsiders who were locked out of every social group, often with little hope of becoming a fully functioning member of society again.  Others, like a woman on her period, were only unclean for a short time and were then clean again.  That is, unless she bled for years.  You don’t touch pigs or dead people.  They are all unclean.

And there was one thing that all good Jewish people knew, if you touch an unclean person (or sometimes even touch something they touched) then you “caught” their uncleanliness.  It was extremely contagious.  And then you would suffer a short period of being unclean, often a day, before you could be made clean again.

And yet what do we find in Mark 5?  Jesus is in the presence of a demon-possessed madman.  And what’s worse, dangerously close to pigs (most unclean animal ever).  Jesus is touched by a woman who has been bleeding for years, an exile because of her illness, and she is healed.  Jesus goes into the bedroom and touches Jairus’ dead daughter and she wakes up.

In each of these stories, Jesus comes in contact with the unclean.  As a good Jewish teacher, he should have shoo’d them away while turning up his nose and chastising them for not warning him in advance of their unclean state.  He should have run to the nearest wash basin and cleaned his hands just because they were close to him.  After all, that’s how others would have acted.  But not Jesus.  The most striking of these stories has to be the woman.

For 12 years she had been bleeding.  Blood outside of the body was always unclean.  She would have lost everything.  She couldn’t prepare food for others.  She couldn’t hold hands with her family.  Nobody could have embraced her or even gently comforted her during her illness.  She couldn’t go to Temple to worship, even during the festivals when everybody went.  She gave everything she had to try to get better and had only gotten worse.  There was no hope…until she saw Jesus.  Suddenly hope emerges.  Maybe he could heal her and she could have her life back.  But could she risk asking?  What if he refused to touch an unclean woman like every other person had for a decade?  Perhaps she could just touch his outer garment.  He might not even notice.  Of course, if he noticed he might be enraged to find out he had just been made unclean.  But she had nothing left to lose.  She had to try.  She couldn’t let hope pass her by yet again.  And as she pushed through the crowd, making many unclean and frustrated, she reaches out, touches his cloak and feels her body become whole again!  She was healthy!  She could actually live again!

Then she hears his voice yell out, “Who touched me?”  Fear.  Anguish.  Shame.  Could she run?  No.  She had to tell the truth to the man who had given her hope.  He had given her life back.  So she clings to his feet and tells him the truth.

And waits for his response.

“Dear woman, your faith has healed you.  Go in peace.  You are freed from your suffering.”

Joy.  Gratitude.  Hope.  Life.  Health.  Peace.  Joy.

You see, where the world saw people who were contagiously unclean, Jesus reach out and touched them.  But what is really remarkable is not that Jesus didn’t “catch” their uncleanliness.  What is remarkable is that Jesus was so full of life and goodness and God that when he touched them they “caught” what he had.  They became clean.  He wasn’t just immune to their brokenness, but his contagious goodness and wholeness infected them and healed them.

We live in a world today where too many Christians won’t touch the unclean people because they fear they are contagious.  We might catch what they have.  So we build barriers between ourselves and them.  We live in sterilized worlds where we don’t even come in contact with the unclean.  We are safe.  The problem is that God has put Jesus’ goodness inside of every one of us through his Holy Spirit and he has told us to go touch all of the unclean people so that they can be infected with his contagious goodness that lives in each one of us.  And if we won’t go out and touch them and give them the life found in the contagious Messiah, then they will live for years like Legion, fighting against the chains in the cemetery.  They will be like the woman who gave everything trying to find hope for a decade.  They will be the man who is losing his daughter and doesn’t know where to turn.  They need a contagious Messiah.  And that hope, joy, goodness, life, and salvation lives in us.

Will you take the risk to touch the dirty people and infect them with the love of Christ?

 
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Posted by on July 16, 2013 in Mark

 

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John 16 – Best Time to Live is Now

How incredible would it be to have lived in the time when God was speaking to prophets, leading Israel in a pillar of fire, and working powerful miracles against the gods of Egypt? What would it be like to love in the time of Jesus, walking with the disciples, seeing Jesus heal the sick, raise the dead, and feed the multitudes? Would we get out of the boat like Peter did? Would we bring a small boy with some fish and bread forward like Andrew to see what Jesus would do with so little? How powerful would it be to hear the words of Jesus from his own lips?! When would be the best time to live: Before Jesus, with Jesus, or after Jesus?

Jesus tells his disciples that it is better that he leaves so that the Advocate will come to them. Jesus has a very high view of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit will guide us into all truth. Because the Spirit has come they will have strength to not fall away when they are put out of the synagogue or when people try to kill them. The reality of the Holy Spirit being inside of us is that God is within us. God was with Israel by placing his presence in the Temple. God was with Jesus by placing his Spirit on him. We receive this same Spirit when we are baptized. We no longer have to go to where God is because he has come to us. This reuniting with his creation is a small sample of the reality of us being with him in the New Creation after the resurrection.

A time is coming when the disciples will be alone. Scared. Rejected by the world. Scattered. It is going to be excruciatingly painful for a while but that pain will be a distant memory when their grief is turned to joy and the Holy Spirit is placed within them. They will then be in the new reality of God being with his people again anticipating the time when that reality will be fully realized in the resurrection of the Saints. Christ has conquered death. He has overcome the world. Take comfort in this reality. Even though the world may be celebrating the death of God, as Nietzsche in the 19th century famously claimed, “God is dead,” we know that this is not the reality. Things may look grim at times but take heart! Christ has overcome the world!

 
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Posted by on April 15, 2013 in Bible Blog, John

 

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1 Corinthians 12 – From What Spirit?

From What Spirit?

Ryan and I often joke about something a professor told us when we were first starting out at Oklahoma Christian.  He was giving us a lecture on the importance of thorough preparation and the value of spending a considerable amount of time in though and prayer before preaching a sermon.  And then he brought up how some preachers stand up from time to time in the pulpit and proclaim that they had a sermon prepared but the Holy Spirit had guided them another direction so they were going to simply speak on this new topic.  “Perhaps you should consider the possibility,” he said, “that it is a different spirit leading you in that direction.”  It’s always fun in those moments to ask each other if perhaps an evil spirit is guiding our thoughts.

I think that professor had a point, and I think Paul is playing with a similar idea at the beginning of this chapter.  After all, he is talking to people who once worshiped stone idols as if they were gods.  It’s entirely possible they could be led astray.  So, if somebody says that Jesus be cursed or some similarly false claim that counters the Gospel then you can know they speak by an evil spirit.  If they proclaim that Jesus is Lord then they are led by God’s Spirit.  In the same way, there are many types of work, service, and spiritual gifts that God gives to His people and these are all given by the same Spirit.  So, if the work that people are doing or the spiritual gifts they are employing begin to cause conflict or division, then clearly one of those individuals is being influenced by something other than the Holy Spirit.

The Body of Christ

Much can be said about the extended metaphor Paul makes here at the end of the chapter.  Every person is gifted in their own way to serve God and serve others.  Every person, no matter how significant or insignificant they may seem to the church is very important and yet also relies on many others to help the church function.  The primary function of this metaphor is to show the need for all the parts of the church to work together, recognize one another’s value and be completely united as one.  If you find that you are causing division or causing problems, then you really need to evaluate how you are functioning as a member of the body.

I do want to take a moment to point out two points of self-evaluation present in this passage.

  1. Are you doing something in God’s church?  If you aren’t doing anything, if you have no role or function at all, then perhaps you need to re-evaluate what gifts God has given to you and what is keeping you from using them.
  2. Are you poking the Body of Christ in the eye?  Think about the person at your church who just drives you crazy and who you are complaining about all the time.  Is the way you treat this person healthy for the body of Christ?  Because if it isn’t, then perhaps you need to assess how you can begin working together instead of working against one another.

Again, if your thoughts, words, or actions are causing division or conflict within the church, then perhaps you aren’t being led by the Holy Spirit.

 
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Posted by on August 16, 2012 in 1 Corinthians, Pauline Epistles

 

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Acts 19 – Holy Spirit, Who Are You?, Christians Are Bad for the Economy

Paul meets some disciples while traveling and his first question is one I’ve never asked any Brother or Sister I’ve met. “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” When they said that they have only had John’s baptism (baptism of repentance) Paul baptized them into the name of the Lord Jesus and placed his hands on them so they would receive the Holy Spirit.

Growing up, I seem to remember being taught that baptism was for repentance and I don’t really remember hearing anything about receiving the Holy Spirit. The receiving of the Holy Spirit is one of the major focal points of Acts. Should we be spending more time talking about it and figuring out what it means to have God dwelling inside of us?

What does it mean to have the Holy Spirit? How do you see Luke talking about the Holy Spirit in Acts? What ways do we need to change how we talk about the Holy Spirit?

Every time I read “I know Jesus and I know Paul but you I know nothing about.” I crack up. I can’t imagine the thoughts that would be flowing as this demon looks at you saying this. All too often we want the benefits of being a Christian without the commitment to Christ. We want to have a “friends with benefits” situation with God rather than a real relationship. This always ends with the snot getting beat out of you. I appreciate Luke putting this story in there. I hope the early Church found it as humerous as I did.

I feel like I’m a pretty bold proclaimer of the Gospel (I say that mostly in jest) but I hadn’t started a riot in a while. Christians all throughout the first few centuries really messed up the economy. Not going to temple to make sacrifices to the various gods of the Roman world killed the economy. This is something I had never considered being a cause of problems for the early Christians. Imagine if Christians moved into Las Vegas and convinced everyone that strip clubs, gambling, and the Vegas lifestyle was wrong. There would be somee angry business owners. Paul walks into Caesar’s Palace (pun intended) and changes the culture in Ephesus…making the major stock holders mad.

Kent reminded us in our last reading through Ephesians that the temple to Artemis is the third oldest on the list of the Seven Wonders of the world…kind of a big deal. At the time of Paul, it is important for all things that were Ephesus…tourism, influence, religious stuff, and the like. Paul convincing people to follow Christ and not Artemis is bad for the economy and cause for riot. We’ll see what happens tomorrow…

 
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Posted by on June 13, 2012 in Acts, Bible Blog

 

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Acts 10 – Five Observations about Cornelius

This picture took animals from Noah’s Ark and put them in Peter’s Blanket. The pig and the condor are the only two that make sense. Maybe the raccoon if Peter lived in Kentucky.

This is one of my favorite chapters in Acts.  Through the first nine chapters the book is all about Jews becoming Christians and Jews bring mean to Christians.  In Acts 10, Gentiles officially come on to the scene and they do it in a big way.  The chapter is almost comical, however, as Peter has to get hit in the head three times by unclean animals before even going to Cornelius and even then doesn’t haven any plan to actually offer an invitation until God’s Spirit enters Cornelius.  Finally Peter gets it and then has to go back to Jerusalem to explain his reasons for baptizing Gentiles.  Come on early Christians…catch up with God’s great vision for the entire world.  Anyhow, five observations about Acts 10:

1.  Cornelius is chosen because of his generosity to others.  This doesn’t mean he is saved by his generosity, but out of all the Gentiles who believed and prayed to God, Peter was sent to a Roman soldier.  The reason was his attention to the poor.  And we aren’t just talking about giving them money, but knowing and caring for the poor enough to pray for them.  This guy will fit in great with the early Christians.

2.  Peter is at Simon the Tanner’s house.  Tanners are the people who take the dead animals, skin them, and turn their skin into leather goods.  This was an “unclean” job.  Jews weren’t to touch dead things or touch people who touch dead things.  That’s all tanners did.  Peter is overlooking that prejudice to stay at Simon’s house.  He will associate with tanners but needs three visions to get him to visit a Roman Centurion.

3.  Peter doesn’t offer an invitation.  It appears that God jumps into the story at the moment Peter is about to conclude his sermon.  The Spirit enters the household of Cornelius before they are baptized.  I think Peter had no intention to offer baptism or admission to God’s Kingdom to this family so God had to preempt his conclusion.  When God does, all of the Jews with Peter are stunned.  “They can be Christians too?!”

4.  Peter’s response, “Surely nobody can stand in the way of their being baptized with water.  They have received the Holy Spirit just like we have.”  This statement seems far from a bold proclamation.  It’s part observation, part question, part proclamation.”  I almost picture him looking at those with him while shrugging his shoulders.  They must have all agreed and Cornelius’ family is baptized.  Clearly God’s vision for His Kingdom continues to be bigger than any of his followers had ever imagined.

5.  This is one of the few circumstances in the New Testament where somebody receives the Holy Spirit before they are baptized.  This appears to be the exception and not the rule (as evidenced by everybody’s response).  It is this very surprise that finally makes clear to all the Apostles that God’s Kingdom is for all people.  God’s surprising action is irrefutable, but it’s also important to know that it is surprising.  The fact that the Spirit arriving before baptism was so unusual is a powerful indicator that they all were accustomed to the spirit arriving AT baptism.

(Bonus observation: This is an unofficial opinion observation.  There doesn’t seem to be any call for Cornelius to quit his job.  Apparently being a Roman Centurion is something you can do and still be a Christian.  This might come as a surprise to pacifists and people who protest at soldiers funerals that God would choose a high ranking roman soldier to be the first Gentile convert.  This might be our Hot Topic on Friday this week.)

These were Jesus’ Apostles and they were still surprised by just how great and how vast God’s Kingdom was.  They couldn’t fathom just how big of a vision God was casting for them and all his followers to come.  In so many ways, I think we continue struggling to catch hold of God’s world-changing vision.

 
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Posted by on May 29, 2012 in Acts, Bible Blog

 

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Acts 4 – The Revolution of Resurrection

Peter and John Before the Jewish Religious Aristocracy (Sanhedrin)

We might often think that Peter and John are called in because they are disciples of Jesus, but the text indicates that the Sanhedrin doesn’t seem to make this association until later (vs 13).  And they weren’t brought in because they were accusing the Sanhedrin of killing Jesus, as their accusations are more generally directed towards “all the people” and not just the leaders.  Luke tells us specifically that they were brought in for questioning because they were “teaching the people, proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection of the dead.”  This teaching about resurrection is the revolutionary teaching that lands Peter and John in hot water.

But why?  It’s important to note that the Sadducees were the Jewish Aristocracy who included the Chief Priest and his family.  They controlled the Temple, the Temple Guard, and were the ones who managed relations with Rome.  They were the wealthy power brokers of Israel and the Gospels tell us that the Sadducees did not believe in the resurrection of the dead.  But that doesn’t mean nobody believed in the resurrection.  The Pharisees were a more populist movement of the time that did believe in the resurrection (Paul was a Pharisee before his conversion).  We also see Martha (John 11) has some common knowledge about a general resurrection at the last day when she stands at Lazarus’ grave.

But the Apostles aren’t making some vague reference to a distance future when everybody will be resurrected.  They claim it’s already happened in the person of Jesus and that everybody is invited to join in and share in this resurrection.  This means that God is already moving in the world to turn things upside down and make all things right.  Now that’s good news, unless you’re already in power and would like to stay that way.  If Jesus is the new Temple, the intersection between God and this world, then those who control the old Temple have no power.  To the Sanhedrin, resurrection in Christ marks the end of their power.  In the long run, it means that in this new creation they might not be the ones in control.  In the immediate time, people in positions of authority hold no power or influence over believers who have no fear of death.  If they can’t get this movement under control then its all over for the Sadducees and the Sanhedrin.

Peter and John simply point out the obvious, “Are we in trouble for our act of kindness in healing that really old lame man dancing over there in the corner?  We did it by the power of Jesus of Nazareth…you remember him, right?”  Peter then quotes Psalm 118:22 changing one word.  Instead of Jesus being the cornerstone the builders rejected, he says Jesus is the cornerstone you builders rejected.  It’s never fun having your name substituted for the bad guy in a story.  But the people love Peter and John and the Sanhedrin cannot overcome the Spirit, the truth, and the people.  So when Peter and John leave, it’s no wonder the church gathers together to pray and worship.  The revolution has begun.  The Kingdom has arrived.

This is still true today as Ryan explained in his blog last week that Claiming to be Christian is Still Offensive.

The Believers Share

Luke again stops to tell us what this first church looked like and it is marked by several important traits.  They had great unity of heart and mind.  They boldly proclaimed the Gospel.  And they shared sacrificially.  A few days ago I talked about how this is how families function and it was characteristic of these first Christians.  Barnabas is a fun example because he sells a field and is known for his generosity, but he soon after joins the mission field.  “I’m about to start travelling for Christ.  I don’t need my property any more.  Here, use it for the needy among us.”  I think it’s also important that their benevolence focused on their own.  This isn’t the Red Cross or welfare.  They are taking care of family, taking care of their own.

I also love the description in verse 33 that God’s grace was so powerfully at work within them that nobody had need.  We often think of grace as God forgiving us when we don’t deserve it.  I think this illustrates a better definition which is God’s grace doing in us what we cannot do ourselves.  This definition helps us to see that grace allows and empowers us to do works of good in the world beyond what we could do without God.  It’s more than sin management.  Dallas Willard says it this way, “God’s saints burn more grace than sinners ever could.”

At the end of Acts 4, I am reminded of a bishop who once said, “Everywhere St. Paul went there was a riot.  Everywhere I go they serve tea.”  If our message is so comfortable to the world, especially to those in power today, then perhaps we’re missing something?

 
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Posted by on May 17, 2012 in Acts, Bible Blog

 

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Acts 2 – The Harvest Begins with Power

The Feast of Pentecost

Acts 2 begins with the coming together of Jews (and God-fearing Gentiles) who had come together for the feast of Pentecost in Jerusalem.  This feast, 50 days after Passover, celebrated the first-fruits of the harvest.  The people would give to God the first earnings of their harvest both out of gratitude and in hopes that God would bless the remainder of the harvest to be gathered.  This makes it a very appropriate setting for God’s harvest of his people to truly begin.

For centuries, Israel had been waiting for a time (often referred to as the “last days”) where God would return Israel from exile back to a place of worldwide prominence.  There was unending study and speculation about how the prophets foretold of this coming time and the primary message of Acts 2 and Peter’s sermon is that we have arrived at that moment.  When Jesus leaves his followers, the know to wait for God’s Spirit to bring them power and they know that they are to usher in this brave new world, but other than that they don’t really seem to know what that will look like.  So, it should come as no surprise that we find them together in an upper room waiting for the signs telling them where to go.

Inasmuch as we recognize that heaven is the arena that God has direct authority and influence over, and that the world is the place where we live and operate every day, the events of Acts 2 show those two worlds colliding.   The Spirit comes down on Peter and the others filling them with such an energy and excitement that they immediately find themselves speaking to crowds of thousands from all over the world and (miraculously) in every known language, proclaiming the Good News that Jesus is the Messiah.  He begins by using the prophet Joel to demonstrate that this is the “last days” they have been waiting for, but that wickedness saw the Messiah killed, but that the Messiah has overcome all wickedness.

This miracle of uneducated men (and likely women) preaching so that every person heard them in their own language truly shows the undoing of the curse of Babel in Genesis 11.  When humanity egotistically rebelled against God, he scattered their languages and created division.  The first act of the spirit in this new Kingdom is to create unity through understanding of languages.  And yet, I couldn’t help but notice the skeptics in the crowd as I read today.  I have never really given them much attention, but it seems that there are some in the crowd who are so closed to the Gospel being presented that instead of hearing their language they only hear drunken babbling.  Jesus often spoke of those “with ears to hear.”  Did these people lack the faith and the ears to hear so that they didn’t get to experience this miracle, or did they simply hear but not listen as they offered only skepticism and criticism?  Why must some always refuse to open their ears to the power of God’s good news?

The Invitation

Peter is ultimately inviting the crowd to experience their own Exodus.  Thousands of years prior, Israel passed through water, out of slavery and oppression into a covenant relationship with God in a land of promise.  Peter now tells the people that they need their own exodus where they might pass through water out of slavery to sin and death and into a life of covenant and a life of abundant living.  While some were skeptics, thousands respond and are baptized that day to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

I should mention, that they didn’t become “Christians.”  That term wouldn’t exist for awhile yet.  Most of those baptized believers went home that night believing in the Messiah they had always hoped and prayed for, who had come in a manner they had never imagined.  Their expectation was probably not that a new religion would come out of this, but that all Israel would soon join in their understanding and loyalty to King Jesus.  And while the rest of the book is about the working out of that process, these new believers do become something…

…One Family

The final section of this chapter shows what the first fruits of the harvest look like.  The first thing they recognize is that they are now a single unified family in Jesus Christ.  While it doesn’t appear that they sold their individual homes since that is exactly where they continued meeting, they did sell their extra property and they held everything in common.  While strangers doing this feels like a cult, we are completely comfortable with families living this way.  Leah and I don’t argue about who’s couch we are sitting on.  When Carter uses a plate, it’s as much his as it is mine.  That’s family, and immediately the church begins to operate in this way.

There are four things that we are told the church did all the time and we get the impression that these are fundamental things Christianity should always be about going forward.  They devoted themselves to the Apostles’ teachings, they spent time in fellowship, the broke bread together and they prayed.  If you’re at a church and something other than these things is the main purpose, perhaps it’s time for a prayerful reading of this passage.  If you are missing these in your life, then perhaps its time for you to step more fully into God’s community.

The Kingdom Movement

The Spirit has come and we see the first-fruits of Jesus’ new Kingdom movement.  We see that it arrived with great power and energy and that it resulted in a people that thought of one another as family.  There is certainly other times where God works through quiet, peaceful and patient methods, but in this case we see grandeur and excitement.  And perhaps it should come as some condemnation that our churches today rarely do anything so exciting that somebody might wonder if we are drunk before breakfast.  And maybe we should be convicted that the church today is filled with wealthy and poor (which is good) and they don’t know each other’s names (which is bad).

What we do know is that God has a plan.  It includes the church.  And if you’re in the church, get ready to be part of something big.

 
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Posted by on May 15, 2012 in Acts, Bible Blog

 

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Acts 1 – Luke’s Sequel…Jesus Continues His Work

Welcome to the Book of Acts! We have already finished one Gospel together and we’re taking the natural next step from Luke to his second work, Acts. It isn’t simply Luke’s second work but it is more appropriately the sequel to his Gospel. The previous book was written about “everything Jesus began to do and teach” (v1). Acts is often called “The Acts of the Apostles” and more appropriately “The Acts of the Holy Spirit” but mostly this book needs to be viewed as the continuation of what Jesus began to do and teach. Even though Jesus’ only main appearance is in the first nine verses, he is present throughout the entirety of the story.

Part of our understanding of this book has to do with how we view Jesus’ Kingship and his Kingdom. We are not waiting for the Kingdom of God to come down. We are already in the Kingdom of God. Jesus is already King and Lord over his Kingdom. His Kingdom is very much here and active. Jesus came proclaiming the Kingdom of God is at hand and the book of Acts is a continuation of Jesus bringing the Kingdom.

Each author of the books of the Bible writes with a certain literary style and Luke is no exception to this. He actually has a lot in common with other Jewish historians of his day in their style of writing. There is a lot in common with the first-century Jewish historian Josephus. Luke writes more for the “intelligent reader” though he also writes in a way that just about anyone can read it on one level or another. It is written as a page-turner, filled with excitement throughout the whole narrative. I’m looking forward to reading it straight through together!

Acts is written in a way to be read on a few different levels. First, we read it as a story of the early church. Like all historical stories, it is told selectively with particular interests and concerns to communicate. On a second level, the story is to be read as a book about Jesus, though hardly on stage, is the main actor all the way through. One a third level, Luke invites us to be part of this story, to take up our role and join in what is going on. In many ways, we see this in the lack of ending to the story. Acts ends with Paul staying in Rome in a rented house for two years boldly proclaiming “the Kingdom of God, teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ – with all boldness and without hindrance!” (28:31).

Luke wants us to hear a number of things throughout this reading. His whole work is based on the resurrection of Jesus. Heaven and earth have come together (as they once did in the temple) in a new way in the Church. Where the Church is and goes, heaven is and goes with them. Along these lines, Luke wants us to recognize the power and presence of the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit’s dwelling in us, as the church, given in our baptism, is the reality of heaven and earth coming together again. Jesus warns the disciples to wait for the Holy Spirit to come before starting their Kingdom work. Do we ever move to quickly into “the work of the Kingdom” without first praying for the Spirit’s presence to come and give us calling, energy, and focus?

There are a lot of debates as to who Theophilus is but I personally don’t see the context of Acts changing much based on his identity. The name Theophilus means “Friend of God” and I am inclined to think that Luke is using this as a literary device to address his two part story to all who are friends of God.

One final note, the choosing of Matthias is significant for a few reasons. First, and this is more of a tangent, not everyone gets selected for everything. I’m sure Joseph continued to be a Christian even though he didn’t get selected. Sometimes we get too focused on no one feeling rejected that we forget why we are selecting people. I like to think that Joseph was a very humble individual, which is why he was suggested in the first place, and accepted the decision of Matthias with grace. Second, and this is more importantly the point, Israel’s story is the Story of God working in the world. It is important to have 12 Apostles going into this next chapter of God’s Story in the world. This is the new Israel, the Kingdom of God.

 

 
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Posted by on May 14, 2012 in Acts, Bible Blog

 

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