Luke paced his study. The new parchments arrived ahead of schedule. Notes were organized and waiting.
Winter was settling in so travel for the next few months was out of the question. Time was on his side now.
“Why is it always difficult to begin a writing? I know once I get into this it will flow. Is it fear, or something more sinister?”
He stared at the parchments, again.
“Theophilus would love to know more. He must know what happened next. That’s it…a letter to my friend. It worked before.”
Luke grabbed a parchment and unrolled it on the table. He sighed at the blank paper before him. The cork on the ink was pulled before another thought could entertain his mind off this task. A fresh quill was soon in his fingers.
I merely began to write to you, O Theophilus, of the things Jesus taught and did while He was with us. He continued to command His chosen apostles until He was taken up. Jesus showed Himself for forty days after His sufferings. The proofs are undeniable. He taught them of the coming kingdom right up till the end.
On His last day he assembled them together and commanded them to remain in Jerusalem until the Father gave the gift.
“John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit from on high soon.”
“Will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” They asked.
“It’s not for you to know the time. You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes to you not many days from now. Be My witnesses in Jerusalem, then Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
After Jesus said this He lifted in the air until a cloud came down and engulfed him. His followers stared in amazement.
Suddenly two men dressed in white stood with them. “Why are you looking up. Jesus will return in like manner.”
The Apostles left the Mount of Olives and returned to Jerusalem.
So begins Dr. Luke’s second letter preserved in our Bibles today. Some older versions call it The Acts of the Apostles. Most people refer to this book simply as Acts.
I’m beginning this new study for two reasons: 1. I can’t think of anything else to concentrate this blog on, and 2. I’ve never done an in-depth study of this book. Please pray for wisdom for me as I conquer this task of presenting application of this strange twist of history that followed Jesus’s followers after His ascension.
Few argue that Luke, a physician by trade, wrote this account along with the gospel account that bears his name. Parts of it are autobiographical since he traveled with Paul on some of his missionary journeys.
Most writers I know, including myself, struggle with the beginning of a writing project. That’s why I began this post as I did.
The importance of this record would have weighed heavily on Luke. His attention to detail came in extremely handy in bringing this book into being.
We owe a debt of gratitude to him for his tenacity in bringing us this historical narrative to help us understand the birthing of God’s new church.
His gospel account mentions eyewitnesses to what happened. I have no doubt Mary was one of his interviewees as he wrote that account. Aren’t we glad he did since she gave us so much of what we know of the Christmas story? Matthew added Joseph’s side of that episode.
Both of Luke’s books are addressed to an interesting individual. Theophilus is only mentioned at the beginning of these two books.
By definition theophilus means “lover of God.” This may have been an actual person or a specific type of person.
Letters were passed around from one church to another at the time Luke wrote this and Paul and others wrote most of the letters that make up the New Testament today. So, by addressing this to lovers of God Luke may have included anyone interested in reading this to know more of God and His dealings with his people after Jesus left this planet.
Since you’ve read this far into this post I assume you love God, so let’s spend our attention on lessons meant for us by the events that laid the foundation of our relationship with God while we walk on earth.
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Luke begins this letter as he ended the gospel account, with the ascension of Jesus. Why did he repeat the same event and why do they almost sound like different events when you read them side-by-side?
He knew there would be people who wouldn’t have read the gospel. That’s why he wrote about it again here. That event was the turning point of the Apostles’ lives. With Jesus no longer physically present they were left leaderless until the Holy Spirit was given to them.
The accounts are about the same event from a different perspective. Like two eyewitnesses telling of something from their viewpoint of the same event. It could sound like different things when they’re actually the same thing.
I find it interesting that a cloud is mentioned in Jesus’s ascension. A student of the Old Testament will recognize what that represents.
Clouds showed up at important times in Jewish history.
A cloud covered Mt Sinai when Moses received the Ten Commandments and other times he talked with God.
A cloud also led the Hebrews through the desert and into the promised land at that time.
A cloud filled the temple when Solomon dedicated it right after the first one was built.
Clouds cloaked the presence of God so people wouldn’t be able to see Him.
This cloud was God receiving His Son back to heaven because His duties on earth had been fulfilled at that time.
The angels told the Apostles that Jesus will return on a cloud. Interesting coincidence I’d say.
I’m looking forward to that cloud’s appearing.
Then Jesus’s kingdom will finally begin.
It’s about time!
I’ll see you later. Wade