We have now covered the story of Jesus and his life here on earth. We have discovered that Jesus is the Messiah figure we have been waiting for all this time. He was the “snake-crusher” we have been waiting for to finally conquer evil and restore the people to their original state of being one with each other and God. It would seem that this is the end of the story but if you would look at your Bible, you would notice that there is still a chunk left to cover. The next book after the four gospels is a book called Acts. The book of Acts is not the end of the Jesus story, it is just the beginning.
When we look at Acts there are some big movements to notice as a whole. The whole point of Acts is to show how the Holy Spirit is moving throughout the world to bring the gospel message to every human on the face of the earth. The first movement is to start with the Jews, to give them the chance of knowing the truth and accepting Jesus as their Savior and then they move on to the Gentiles (or the rest of the world). Acts begins with the ascension of Jesus back to heaven and the command to be his “witnesses” to Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria, and the ends of the earth. These are the movements that are going to occur in this narrative of Acts. Jesus promises the apostles that they will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon them (Acts 8). Then the Holy Spirit comes at the day of Pentecost and this day becomes a pivotal moment for humanity.
The Holy Spirit coming to dwell in humans is a sign of redemption and restoration for the world. In the beginning, God walked in the garden with humanity and then the humans were exiled outside of the garden and were outside of God’s presence. Then the tabernacle was built in the wilderness where God would dwell, and where the High Priest could enter into the presence of God. Then a grander temple was built in Jerusalem where God would dwell. However, it didn’t last long as the kingdom of Israel split and Jerusalem was destroyed along with the temple and the people were taken into exile. This was again, another time that God’s people were exiled from their land and exiled from God, but God also had a plan. A plan that would restore all of humanity back to Him, and this is where Jesus appears. Jesus comes on the scene as God in the flesh, and sacrifices his own life to bring humanity back to Him. Jesus was literally God dwelling among His people. But God doesn’t stop there. He then sends the Holy Spirit to His people to dwell in them. The Holy Spirit dwelling in His people is now a micro spectrum of the full circle of the restoration of humanity. God not only dwells among us, but in us. Acts brings this narrative to life.
With the Spirit comes on the disciples, they began preaching to the Jews and then moved on to those in Samaria and to the rest of the world. There are some main characters who take center stage at different points in the narrative so let’s discuss some of them.
One of the first prominent figures we come across is Peter. Peter was one of the original disciples who walked with Jesus his entire ministry. He gives a great speech at Pentecost and performs some miracles and experiences a miracle from God while in prison. Peter takes the stage for almost the first half and then fades out as the next main character takes the stage, Paul. Paul is going to be the main character throughout the rest of the book of Acts and almost the entire rest of the Bible. Paul goes on a series of missionary journeys that allows him to bring the gospel message to the Gentile world. Paul, through many hardships, learns that Jesus is worth dying for. The book ends with Paul being on house arrest and ends rather abruptly and leaves the reader wondering what happens next.
The book of Acts is, on a basic level, a collection of stories of how the world heard the gospel and there are some pretty amazing stories to think about but there is so much more to this narrative than just spreading the gospel. This book shows each one of us how the Holy Spirit can live in us and dwell in us while also seeing that Jesus never left his disciples and never leaves us. Acts is all about the Spirit and it expressively shows how the power of the Spirit can work in us and through us to inspire the world. The apostles certainly accomplished their mission in spreading the gospel, but it’s the power of the Spirit that we can underestimate.
The book of Acts shows us that the Spirit works and continues to work in us and through us. The narrative Luke writes is one that invites us to join the mission of Jesus to spread the gospel and show the power of the Spirit.