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“The Acts of Jesus (II)” begins

April 18, 2023

Daily Scripture

Acts 1:1-5

1 Theophilus, the first scroll I wrote concerned everything Jesus did and taught from the beginning, 2 right up to the day when he was taken up into heaven. Before he was taken up, working in the power of the Holy Spirit, Jesus instructed the apostles he had chosen. 3 After his suffering, he showed them that he was alive with many convincing proofs. He appeared to them over a period of forty days, speaking to them about God’s kingdom. 4 While they were eating together, he ordered them not to leave Jerusalem but to wait for what the Father had promised. He said, “This is what you heard from me: 5 John baptized with water, but in only a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”

Daily Reflection & Prayer

The gospel of Luke and the book of Acts were, in effect, a 2-volume set. Acts “is all about what Jesus is continuing to do and to teach…. [Jesus] is announced as King and Lord, not as an increasingly distant memory but as a living and powerful reality, a person who can be known and loved, obeyed and followed, a person who continues to act within the real world…. We call it ‘The Acts of the Apostles,’ but in truth we should really think of it as ‘The Acts of Jesus (II)’.” *

  • Luke said Jesus, after his resurrection, was “speaking to them about God’s kingdom.” That was no surprise—that had been the core of Jesus’ preaching and teaching throughout his ministry (cf. Luke 4:43, 8:1). It was a big idea: “God’s kingdom: the experience of God’s rule of peace and justice in Israel (cf. Acts 1:6), the world, and the entire universe.” ** How does Jesus’ teaching help you see yourself, not as just a “church member,” but as a citizen of God’s eternal kingdom?
  • Jesus told his disciples “not to leave Jerusalem but to wait for what the Father had promised.” We Americans are often impatient and driven—we don’t like the word “wait.” Has it ever been hard for you to remember that Jesus told you, too, not to try to do his work on your own, without God’s power? How could “going it alone” hinder, not advance, God’s mission? Hinder your spiritual growth?

Loving Lord, as you called your first followers to an urgent, world-changing mission, you first said, “Wait.” Help me to work with you, not ahead of you, in building your eternal kingdom on earth. Amen.

GPS Insights

Picture of Brandon Gregory

Brandon Gregory

Brandon Gregory is a volunteer for the worship and missions teams at Church of the Resurrection. He helps lead worship at Leawood's modern worship services, as well as at the West and Downtown services, and is involved with the Malawi missions team at home.

When I was young, I was kind of a nerd about the Bible. At 15, I took it upon myself to read through the entire book in 1 year. I had a reading plan that I went through with my girlfr—oh, I’m sorry, “Bible study partner,” and we actually did read the entire Bible in one year. (She did it every year, but it didn’t really work out between us, so I only did it once.) Anyway, all that to say, if you haven’t read Acts, it’s actually a really fun read, whether you have a Bible study partner or not.

I’d heard that the word “gospel” means “good news,” but I’ll be the first to admit that Christians don’t always mean good news for the people in their lives. I saw Christians be vindictive and exclusionary, even while they were the nicest people in the world to their friends. I even saw some people that were abused by religious parents who used the Bible to belittle and disempower their children, leaving long-lasting emotional scars. I also saw radical positive changes in some people, pulling some out of addiction and hopeless situations, so I saw a lot of good as well, but I wasn’t blind to the bad.

The story recorded in Acts hearkens back to a time when the gospel really was good news to everyone that heard it. It’s one thing to have an impromptu worship session, but it’s another thing entirely to have hundreds of new believers join them just because they heard the joy and the spirit in their voices. The story in Acts is a good news that can’t be stopped, but more importantly, had no reason to stop; it helped everyone who heard it and brought reconciliation and redemption to many who had been excluded from God’s inner circle.

As a young, doe eyed teenager, I always dreamed of being a part of a community like that, where people just couldn’t wait to join me for worship, where people wandered in off the street because they were legitimately curious about what could be so joyful and good. But the older I got, the more I realized that I wasn’t all that different from the sometimes vindictive and exclusionary Christians I grew up with. I wasn’t a part of a community like that not because I couldn’t find it, but because I myself was not always willing to be that community.

I was excited to find Resurrection in 2005 not only because my new Bible study partner worked there, but also because the church’s mission lined up so closely with the lesson I learned while reading Acts: “Our Purpose is to build a Christian community where non-religious and nominally religious people are becoming deeply committed Christians.” It’s something I really believed in, although I’ll admit I’m still working on living up to that calling. It seems like every time I think I can love anyone, life presents me with a new problematic person to challenge me. I think we can all say we’re problematic at times. But the fact is, I want to be a part of that community now, even if it means calling myself out from time to time for working against it.

© 2024 Resurrection: A United Methodist Church. All Rights Reserved.
Scripture quotations are taken from The Common English Bible ©2011. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

* Wright, N.T., Acts for Everyone, Part One: Chapters 1-12 (The New Testament for Everyone) (p. 2). Westminster John Knox Press. Kindle Edition.
** F. Scott Spencer, study note on Acts 1:3 in The CEB Study Bible. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2013, p. 218 NT.