Peter Misselbrook's Blog
Jun 3 2013 - Acts 1:1-26 – Over to you …

The book of Acts is the second half of Luke’s two-part work telling the story of Jesus and of the earliest disciples. He begins this second part with a link back to the first: “I’ve already told you”, he says, “of the things Jesus began to do and to teach.” He seems to imply that this is a continuation of the same story. In this second part we will also read of what Jesus is doing and teaching, but now in and through his disciples.

This continuity is reinforced in other ways also. The Gospels, including Luke’s Gospel, have told of Jesus teaching concerning the kingdom. The book of Acts begins and ends with the same theme. In the opening verses we have the risen Jesus appearing to his disciples over a period of 40 days and “speaking to them about the kingdom of God” (Acts 1.3). The book ends with Paul under house arrest in Rome where, for two years, “he welcomed all who came to him, proclaiming the kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ...” (Acts 28:30-31).

But one of the most remarkable parallels is in Luke’s reference to the Holy Spirit. Jesus’ teaching of his disciples was empowered by the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:2) – the Spirit who descended upon him when he was baptised by John. He began his preaching ministry with the affirmation that the Spirit of the Lord was upon him because he had been anointed to proclaim good news – the Gospel (Luke 4:18). Jesus now tells the disciples that he is about to return to the Father, but they are to wait in Jerusalem for a gift from the Father: “For John baptised with water, but you will be baptised with the Holy Spirit not many days from now” (Acts 1:5). When the Holy Spirit is poured out upon them they will be empowered to be witnesses to Jesus and his kingdom (Acts 1:8): the Spirit of the Lord will now be upon them, anointing them to proclaim the Gospel.

Putting all of this together, Jesus proclaimed the kingdom of God and demonstrated its presence through the power of the Spirit. His death and resurrection are the portal through which the kingdom is now streaming into this world. But it does so as his disciples follow Jesus in proclaiming the kingdom of God and demonstrating its presence through the power of the Spirit. They do this as they proclaim that Jesus of Nazareth, crucified under Pontius Pilate, is risen from the dead and has been declared by God to be both Lord and Christ. As they proclaim that Jesus is Lord, and teach the world about him, Jesus himself works in them and through them to make himself known and to establish his kingdom. This is the story of the Book of Acts.

Jesus has ascended into heaven, but his work of establishing his kingdom continues in undiminished power. As the disciples gaze up into heaven after their Lord, they are asked by angels why they are hanging around here. Jesus has given them a task to do and, by virtue of his resurrection and ascension to the place of all power, he will equip them to do it. Their task is to get on with it. And that is what they did, as recorded in the Book of Acts.

Luke wrote no third volume. That's down to us. We also are empowered by our risen and ascended Lord to continue his work of establishing his kingdom until that day when he will return from heaven just as those disciples saw him ascend into heaven.

Risen and ascended Lord, you are seated in glory in the place of power at the right hand of the Father. All authority is given to you, and every knee must bow to you. Help us to continue your work of proclaiming your kingdom, your power and your glory. Empower us by your Spirit and work through us to bring many out of the kingdom of darkness to live under your kingly rule.

Peter Misselbrook