The Sparks Archive
One of the most inspirational Bible books to read at the start of the new year is the sequel to the gospel of Luke, known formally as the Acts of the Apostles, which tells the story of the phenomenal growth of the church in its first thirty years.
We’re going to study the book story by story in 2023, but before we do, it’s beneficial to identify some of the great themes of Acts.
The overarching theme we can summarize in one word: Jesus.
Luke writes in the first verse that in his first book (his gospel) the dealt with all that Jesus began to do and teach. The implication is that now in this second book, he’ll continue what he began, describing more of what Jesus did and taught.
The book is mistitled. It’s not the Acts of the Apostles, but the Acts of Jesus. Though Jesus ascends and disappears from sight in chapter 1, he now continues his work not as one man in one body, but working through each of his people, fulfilling his earlier promise that it would be better that he goes away and sends his Spirit, that greater works be done (John 16:7, 14:12).
It is Jesus who sends the Holy Spirit (2:33); Jesus who heals the lame man (3:16) and later Aeneas (9:34); Jesus who appears to Saul and Ananias (chapter 9); Jesus who opens the heart of Lydia (16:14); and gives direction to Paul on his mission (18:9-10).
If your life is to be all it should be, then Jesus must be the overarching theme of your life as well. Jesus, who promised to be with us to the end of the age, is with us still, and with you now. Our part is to turn to him, seek him, abide in him, and walk with him each and every day, that the acts of Jesus might continue through us, till our own story is brought to completion and he calls us home.
In his book All Things New, John Eldredge tells the story of how a few years ago one of the best friends of he and his family died of cancer. The grief that he and his family felt was devastating. “Life begins to feel like it is only and always going to be about loss,” Eldredge writes. He describes how after the phone call came with the news that their friend had died, he and his wife and two of their adult children moved to their porch, each mourning silently for over an hour. Finally his son spoke and said simply this: “There is only Jesus.”
I don’t know what you are facing this morning – what grief has overspread your heart, or what worry is poisoning you, or what sins are clinging to you, or what fear is crippling you. Read these four words again very slowly, very deliberately.
There is only Jesus.
Questions To Ponder:
- Jesus once asked his disciples point-blank: Who do you say that I am? Jesus asks that question still of each one of us. How would you answer?
- Many like to refer to their religious impulses in non-committal, shadowy language, using words like spiritual, or faith, or church, or higher power. Even God is generic enough sometimes. But what happens inside of you when we tighten the focus to Jesus Christ.
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