Today’s New Testament lesson from the Book of Acts begins in such a simple way. And yet, its simplicity belies an astounding notion, which — if we’re open to it — can change the way we look at this day and all the days that follow. Luke writes:
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. (Acts 1:1-2)
In referring to his “former book,” Luke, of course, is pointing to the gospel, which apparently was just the beginning of an ongoing saga. But now — “as the adventure continues,” so to speak — Luke says that the gospel told only what Jesus “began to do and teach.” From here on out, the doing and teaching of Jesus will continue in the life of his followers as they are empowered by the Holy Spirit.
Of course, we know this in our heads. But I wonder sometimes if it’s all-too-easy for what Jesus “did and taught” to be ancient history in our hearts. Was it important and life-changing and world-changing? Absolutely! But does it allow us to greet this day with a sense of eager anticipation, knowing that Jesus wants to continue (and will continue) his ministry in us as we wait upon and yield to his Spirit?
After Jesus ascends to heaven later in this chapter, his disciples are left standing around, wondering what to do next. Two men in white appear and say, “Why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.” But in the meantime, they’ve got work to do! (Or better said, Jesus has work to do through them.) And so they return to Jerusalem. And they wait. And the Spirit comes. And the world has never been the same.
May Jesus continue to do his work and teach his message through us as we allow his story to be written in our lives today.