Today as part of our year’s reading of the NT, Psalms and Proverbs, we begin the study of the book of Acts. Of all of the NT authors, Dr. Luke is by far the most complete as to the life of Christ here on earth from his announcement to his ascension. In Luke we find Christ in the living walking breathing man; in Acts we find Christ’s living active Spirit (Holy Spirit) indwelling each believer. In Luke Jesus presents himself as the suffering servant; in Acts he presents himself through the suffering yet rejoicing servants. In Luke Jesus tell the disciples: You are witnesses and in Acts Jesus tells them you will be my witnesses. Luke covers about 30 yrs of time from the announcement to the ascension of Christ and in Acts about 30 yrs from Jesus’ ascension to Paul’s two year imprisonment in Rome. Thus in just two short books we will cover a span of 60 yrs—for many a person’s lifetime–of what transpired as the church began its ministry. In Luke we walked beginning from Nazareth and ended up in Jerusalem. In Acts we begin in Jerusalem and end up in Rome.
As we begin this journey with Luke there are some notable things of which we need to take notice:
In Luke 24: he, that is Christ, opened their minds so they could understand the scriptures, in Acts 1: he [Christ] presented himself alive with many convincing proofs so they could visualize the scriptures.
In Luke 24: it stands written that the Christ would suffer and would rise from the dead on the third day, in Acts 1: as proof that this was fulfilled, He was seen by them over a forty-day period
In Luke 24: repentance for the forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem and in Acts the disciples are anointed with power to accomplish this by being his witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the farthest parts of the earth.”
In Luke the disciples see the risen Christ; then he vanished out of their sight. In Acts the risen Christ was with them 40 days; then was lifted up and a cloud hid him from their sight.
In Luke “Didn’t our hearts burn within us while he was speaking with us on the road, while he was explaining the scriptures to us?” But in contrast, in Acts: they excitedly began to ask him, “Lord, is this the time when you are restoring the kingdom to Israel?”
No angels are present when Christ reveals himself to the disciples in the upper room but in Acts: suddenly two men in white clothing stood near them. There is a saying that goes like this: You can be so heavenly minded that you are no earthly good. In Acts we see them gazing heavenward and two men are sent to guide them back to earth. That is perhaps why the two angels reminded them: “Men of Galilee, why do you stand here looking up into the sky? This same Jesus who has been taken up from you into heaven will come back in the same way you saw him go into heaven.” Translation: you are to be His witnesses until he returns so why are you wasting time gazing at the clouds? He will be back but the work is still unfinished. Get Busy!
And thus now as His witnesses we are to long for his appearing but until he comes back we are to be busy about the Master’s business. So the question as we begin this week is this: where is our focus—on heaven or the earth where the work must begin and end.