Summary: We need to expect God to expand our vision and be ready to embrace the call on our lives to do kingdom work.
These past three weeks we have focused our messages on discipleship. The first week Pastor Tim so adequately, and literally, unpacked for us the story of Elmo, I mean Thomas, the imperfect disciple and how Jesus accepts us and knows us for who we really are – our good and bad. The 2nd week I talked about the perfect disciple, the one who lays down all selfish ambitions to follow Jesus. The world has yet to see the perfect disciple, but it is a worthy aim and a daily choice. Then last week Pastor Tim shared with us an example of how one woman’s disciple-making attitude translated into her son’s work as a leader of the church, the story of Timothy and Eunice in 2nd Timothy, and how you too can have an impact on your children with a disciple-making mind-set.
This morning, as I conclude our little mini-series on discipleship, I would like to share with you four characteristics of a disciple’s journey: Expand, Embrace, Encounter and Expect.
How many of you are fans of the TV show 24? Although I don’t get to watch it every week, every time I stumble upon the show, I get sucked into the action that surrounds the life of Agent Jack Bauer. One of the things I like about the show is that at the beginning of each episode, it gives you a recap of the previous episode so that if you missed it, you’re not totally lost as to what is going on. Then at the end, it gives you that hook for the next episode, that little bit of preview to intrigue you just enough so that you put it on your schedule to watch the next week.
Well – the beginning of Acts is like the 2nd episode of 24. Acts is actually the Gospel of Luke Book 2. If you look at the beginning of Luke, we see these words:
“Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile an account of the things accomplished among us, 2 just as they were handed down to us by those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and servants of dthe word, 3 it seemed fitting for me as well, having investigated everything carefully from the beginning, to write it out for you bin consecutive order, cmost excellent Theophilus; 4 so that you may know the exact truth about the things you have been taught.”
And then turning to the beginning of Acts. We see these words:
“The first account I composed, Theophilus, about all that Jesus began to do and teach,”
So these two books were written by the same author, Luke, and addressed or at least dedicated to the same person, Theophilus. Luke was a scholarly doctor of the 1st century, a friend of the apostles and an encourager to Paul while he was in prison. His writing style has been labeled as excellent by literary scholars. This was a bright man who desired to spread the news of the gospel through the eyewitness accounts of Jesus that had been told to him. He finishes his first book to Theophilus with these words:
“44 Jesus said to them, “This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.”
45 Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. 46 He told them, “This is what is written: The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, 47 and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things. 49 I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.”
50 When he had led them out to the vicinity of Bethany, he lifted up his hands and blessed them. 51 While he was blessing them, he left them and was taken up into heaven. 52 Then they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy. 53 And they stayed continually at the temple, praising God.”
Ok – so we have the hook. The preview into the next episode. Luke has given a little bit of information about Jesus’ final hours with his disciples before he ascended to heaven, but he didn’t give all of it. He explains that Jesus ascended to heaven, but there’s no details, and we want to hear the details. The hook draws us into his next writing, which is what we call today “The Book of Acts” or “The Acts of the Apostles”.
And here are the details of Jesus’ final moments with his disciples. Luke first gives a recap of the last episode in verses 1 and 2, and then begins the new episode in verse 3: