Presentation on theme: " Because the story of Jesus is so impressive - God among us, God speaking a language we can understand, God acting in ways that heal and help and save."— Presentation transcript:
Because the story of Jesus is so impressive - God among us, God speaking a language we can understand, God acting in ways that heal and help and save us - there is an inherent danger that we will be impressed, but only impressed.
As the spectacular dimensions of the events slowly (or suddenly!) dawn upon us, we could easily become enthusiastic spectators, and let it go at that - admirers of Jesus, generous with our oh’s and ah’s, and in our better moments inspired to imitate him.
But it is Luke’s task to prevent that from happening, to prevent us from becoming mere spectators to Jesus, fans of the Message. Of the original quartet of writers on Jesus, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, Luke alone continues to tell the story as the apostles and disciples live it into the next generation.
The remarkable thing is that it continues to be essentially the same story. Luke continues his narration with hardly a break, a pause perhaps to dip his pen in the inkwell, writing in the same style, using the same vocabulary communicating the same gospel good news that the story of Jesus doesn’t end with Jesus.
It continues in the lives of those who believe in him. The supernatural did not stop with Jesus’ ministry on earth. Luke makes it abundantly clear that the believers he wrote about were no more spectators of Jesus than Jesus was a spectator of God - they were in on the action of God, God acting in and through them, which also means, of course, in us.
The church today, persecuted, attacked, ridiculed or even ignored, desperately needs encouragement and it is the Book of Acts that despite modern challenges vividly reminds local congregations that they can be vibrant and excelling in the work of the Lord, not by human effort though, but by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Acts is therefore nothing less than the acts of God, in the Name of his Son Jesus, through the Holy Spirit, worked by his people, the early church.
Lk 1:1-4. ‘Aangesien baie onderneem het om ‘n verhaal op te stel oor die dinge wat onder ons al vervul is, soos hulle wat van die begin af ooggetuies en dienaars van die Woord was, dit aan ons oorgelewer het, het ek ook dit goedgedink, hooggeagte Theófilus, nadat ek van voor af alles noukeurig ondersoek het, om dit in volgorde aan u te skrywe, sodat u met volle sekerheid kan weet die dinge waaromtrent u onderrig is.’
Hd 1:1-3. ‘Die eerste verhaal, Theófilus, het ek opgestel oor alles wat Jesus begin doen en leer het tot op die dag dat Hy opgeneem is, nadat Hy aan die apostels wat Hy uitverkies het, deur die Heilige Gees bevele gegee het; aan wie Hy ook, ná sy lyde, Hom lewend vertoon het deur baie kentekens, terwyl Hy gedurende veertig dae aan hulle verskyn het en oor die dinge van die koninkryk van God gespreek het.’
Lk 1:1-4. ‘Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us, just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first were eyewitnesses and servants of the word.
Therefore, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, it seemed good also to me to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been informed about.’
Everything in both the Gospel of Luke as well as Acts points to the fact that the whole work was primarily intended to defend Paul on trial and explain to the Roman authorities that there was nothing seditious or subversive about the Christian faith. Paul is thus depicted as a Roman citizen, innocent by Roman law and deserving a ‘not guilty’ verdict at his trial.
This underlying purpose of the Book of Acts explains too why Paul’s testimony is given three times in the book - a little excessive (none of the other apostles’ testimonies are recorded) unless it is because Paul is on trial and it is vital that the lawyer hear what he had said at every one of his previous trials, so that all of it can be used in evidence for him and not against him.
Furthermore, seeing Acts as a defence lawyer’s brief helps to explain why Acts finishes so abruptly. It stops with Paul awaiting trial. This also discredits other arguments for the purpose of Acts. If it was purely an account of Paul’s life, this would be an odd place to finish. We know that Luke himself lived to the age of 84, so he was alive to record Paul’s death if that had been his purpose with Acts. If, on the other hand, the purpose was legal, then the court summary finishes as we would expect, with Paul awaiting trial.
Another observation that supports the overall purpose of Acts confirms this. Why would Dr Luke give so much space to such a detailed account of the shipwreck on Malta if he was aiming to write a history of the early church? And why would he describe only this disaster at sea, since Paul had been through at least three others?
Surely it was because he wished to highlight Paul’s exemplary behaviour in not attempting to escape in the confusion, but instead saving the lives of all on board, including his Roman captors, who were responsible for delivering him safely to the Roman court. After recounting this heroic and patriotic effort, one can imagine the defence lawyer at Paul’s trial concluding with the words: ‘I rest my case, your honour.’
PETRUSPAULUS Wonderwerke Gewerk Visioene Gesien Gely vir Geloof Lank Gepreek Gevul met die Gees Geleer met Vrymoedigheid Vir Jode & Heidene Bedien Gevange Geneem vir Geloof & Bo- Natuurlik Vrygelaat Gawe van Genesing Gehad Duiwels Uitgedryf Genees Persoon Kreupel van Geboorte Persoon uit die Dood Opgewek Vals Leraars Beoordeel & Verwerp Aanbidding van Hulself Teëgestaan
Hd 6:7. ‘En die woord van God het toegeneem, en die getal van die dissipels het in Jerusalem baie vermeerder, en ‘n groot menigte van priesters het gehoorsaam geword aan die geloof.’
Hd 9:31. ‘En die gemeentes deur die hele Judéa en Galiléa en Samaría het vrede gehad; en terwyl hulle opgebou is en gewandel het in die vrees van die Here en die vertroosting van die Heilige Gees, het hulle vermeerder.’
Hd 12:24. ‘Maar die woord van God het gegroei en toegeneem.’
Hd 16:5. ‘En die gemeentes is versterk in die geloof en het elke dag vermeerder in getal.’
Hd 19:20. ‘So het die woord van die Here met krag gegroei en sterk geword.’