Jesus after Easter (a 50-day series), “In my former book, Theophilus…”

Most of us long for miracles.  And Jesus’ perfect life, death on sinners’ behalf as the fulfillment of Passover, and His physical resurrection prove that He is willing and able to meet our greatest needs:  complete forgiveness and a new heart to follow Him as our living King.  But even in the Bible, most of the journey with Jesus is lived in the moments between miracles.  In this 50-day series, we’ll consider some of those moments leading up to the next great miracle in the New Testament:  the fulfillment of Pentecost and the incredible growth of the Church.

 

When we love someone, we talk to them.  We tell others about them.  And we love to hear others talk about them.  That’s what we see happening in Acts 1:1.  Luke had already written his account of the gospel of the Lord’s life, and now he is relaying his account of the Jesus’ ongoing work through His Church.  And to whom did he write?  Theophilus:  “lover of God”.

It’s not clear whether Theophilus was an individual’s actual name or if Luke is writing to one or more people who loved the Lord.  Either way, the book of Acts reflects a passion to tell and hear the message of Jesus and His ongoing work to save and transform the lost for His glory.  Luke’s letter is encouraging and convicting to me.  It reminds me that Jesus is far from finished, and it prompts me to reflect on my passion and service for Him.

Many times my only consuming passion is holding my wife, talking with one of m children, getting off work, or the pizza I’m about to eat.

Yes, there are times when, like David, I long to know Jesus like a deer pants for water.  That’s part of the reason I write about the Lord.  I want to share the good news of His heart, His plan, and His work with others.  But I wish my heart was on fire for Him every moment of the day.  It’s not.

But is our zeal really the good news of the gospel?  Are the personal changes that He makes in us the primary joy that we should celebrate and share?  Let’s think about that for a moment.

How often did Luke write specifically about his own love for the Lord?  I can’t find a single time.  In fact, other than referring to his own authorship, Luke is only mentioned three times in Scriptures (Colossians 4:14, 2 Timothy 4:11, and Philemon 1:24) and each time by the Apostle, his patient and fellow follower.

The risen Lord Jesus has certainly done and continues to do amazing works in me.  He almost immediately took much of my self-righteous anger and made me miraculously more gentle.  He continues to melt my pride and make me a humbler servant, although even putting that down in writing may show that I have a long way to go.  But, then again, even His transformed people are not and never were the glory of the gospel.

Jesus is.  As Luke tells us in his first letter, He is our glory.  Consider some of the love story about the Lord that are unique to Luke’s record.

Luke published Mary’s lineage, instead of following the Jewish tradition of tracing Jesus’ line through the father.  Being a Gentile himself, Luke seems to have wanted to show Jesus’ love for all types of people, not just the Jewish people.

Similarly, some of the most famous parables are only found in Luke:  the Good Samaritan (10:25-37), the lost sheep (15:4-7), the prodigal son (15:11-32), the ten lepers (17:11-19), etc.  Each of these and many of accounts the Lord reaching out to the undeserving focus on Jesus’ amazing grace, not the person’s love for Him.

Luke’s gospel also seems to give more attention than the others to marginalized groups of people:  shepherds, women, the poor, the handicapped, etc.  And, of course, most of them remained marginalized in their culture after He saved them.  The shepherds were still shepherds; the women were still women; and the poor were still poor.  Most of Jesus’ followers did not become Billy Grahams or Dietrich Bonhoeffers.  As Luke’s patient Paul shows us in his letters, most of Jesus’ followers continued to be “Israel” – one who wrestles with God.

In fact, toward the very end of Luke’s letter we see two of Jesus’ followers on the road to Emmaus, and they were restless in their spirits.  The risen Lord even walked  and stayed with them, apparently for hours, patiently teaching and encouraging them again and again. (Luke 24:13-35)  Yet, they didn’t even recognize Him until He disappeared right in front of their eyes.

Isn’t it true that the less deserving we are, the more amazing His love is to us?

Jesus is the good news.  Every day.

Join me in praying to use even small opportunities to talk with others about Him.

 

I hope today’s thought and others in this series will be helpful to you as you journey with Jesus in the moments between miracles.

 

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