Wow – we are almost half way through our reading of the books of Luke and Acts during the year of 2018! It is worth noting again these two books, Luke part 1 and part 2 makes him the most prolific author of New Testament. I am correcting a statement that I have been saying. I have been saying Luke comes in right behind Paul on the number of words written. Instead, Luke has written more of the New Testament than anyone else. Pretty impressive for a guy that we don’t talk about much. Here is a link if you want to see this in an infographic (https://overviewbible.com/author-wrote-most-bible/)
So part 2 of Luke, known as the Acts of the Apostles. Goes back a bit and overlaps the story told in Luke. At the end of Luke, we get the story of Jesus’ ascension. As we pick up the story in Acts one, Jesus is with the disciples and others for 40 days before his ascension. Acts fill in the gaps of what happened between the resurrection and the ascension. (Just as a side note, there is different ways that people that interpreted the two ascension accounts. I am going to stick with the most natural reading of the text, but a quick google search will take you down some very interesting theories and such)
It is a bit hard to do a reflection on a chapter that I will be preaching from this Sunday. I am going to focus on 1:1-9 this week during the sermon, which then only leaves one other story to reflect on: the choosing of a person to replace the twelve – since Judas betrayed Jesus.
So let me say a few words about this story and then close with a theme this story points towards that we will see throughout the book of Acts.
So Acts 1:15-26 tells the story of a new person – Matthias – that was added to the 12. We hear the unfortunate and gruesome story of Judas’ death and how he is remembered. There seems to be little sympathy or understanding of why Judas did what he did. Sometimes we make Judas be just a bit misunderstood or his focus off just a bit. Here the 12 talk about him in a very abrupt and matter of fact way.
They need to pick a new one. They get two of their best and most qualified candidates: Matthias and Joseph.
Here is how they pick: let’s pray and ask God to show us who to pick. And then they essentially threw dice or cast lots. This would be the equivalent of drawing straws. They trusted God to work in the roll of a dice. Quite an amazing story to be told. What if we did this with leaders of companies or pastors or teachers or….
Let’s just toss a dice and let God sort it out.
They seem to be good with this.
I used to read this and say, “Bravo disciples. Great work in trusting God.”
This is not the way I see it anymore and I want to tell you why. These disciples had not received the Holy Spirit. It is promised in Acts 1:1-8. They are in the waiting period. Chapter 2 the Holy Spirit will invade them. But this story happens in the in between.
Praying and casting lots was the best that they had. I am not denying it worked. Just saying something better was on the way: The Holy Spirit.
We will talk about the more in the days ahead, but I want to fast forward to Acts 15:28. Here the 12 plus some more (Paul and Barnabas) met. There were big stakes on the table. Do people have to be Jewish before they can follow Jesus? There were sides – read Acts 15:2.
When all the arguments are made, James states in a written form this, “It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and us to…”
There was now a better way to discern the will of God. And what better way was the Holy Spirit.
And we will see that the Holy Spirit is the main player in the story of Acts and the first church.
Hope to see you on Sunday in Blaze as we discuss this and in the service at 11:22 am as we look at Acts 1:1-8.
Strength and courage,