As mentioned in our first blog, it seems fairly clear that Luke’s consistent theme throughout his gospel is ‘sending’ or ‘being sent’. Jesus was the ‘sent one’ (Gk. = apostolos) of God and his disciples were ‘being sent’ (Gk. = apostello) by Jesus, indicating TWO groups (i.e. the disciples are now depicted by Luke as a combination of the original 12 or apostolos (sent ones) and the 72 or apostello (representing those others being sent).
It is helpful to reflect on this ‘sending’ theme because Luke develops it from the gospel right through The Acts. In fact, Luke seems to deal with the pivotal change in the qualifications for those sent out to engage the mission in some of the ways we’ve thought about in previous blogs but also and further through his revelatory journaling about the Great Commission. In Luke’s gospel chapter 24 he alludes to what his followers will require in order for the gospel of the kingdom to be preached to all nations ….
‘… and repentance and forgiveness will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have ben clothed with power from on high.’ (Luke 24: 47-49)
….. and in Acts chapter 1 Luke makes the connection with his gospel in the first few verses …
‘In my former book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach until the day he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles he had chosen.’ (Acts 1: 1-2)
….. and then proceeds from verse 2 to describe how important for the whole mission it was for the Holy Spirit to do the leading. In detail Luke re-visits the Great Commission narrative, the time after Jesus’ suffering during which he showed himself to his apostles, communed with them and taught them that without the power of the Holy Spirit, the authority needed for anyone to engage the mission work would not be available to them.
“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1: 8)
With this clearer understanding that the more intimate the disciples’ relationship with Jesus the more impact the mission would have both for the disciples themselves and those who would be engaged; now we see that the mission which began focusing on the lost sheep of Israel, will be to all nations.
The coming of the Holy Spirit makes the difference. If Jesus doesn’t help his followers to clearly see that it is their trust in God’s complete provision for the task that is required and not human knowledge, skill or effort (Luke 9 & 10); it becomes immeasurably harder for him to assure them to trust him enough to WAIT for the promised Holy Spirit so that ALL they had learned to receive whilst Jesus walked with them on the earth would continue to be available to them after Pentecost.
Luke’s gospel and The Acts is about relationship – relationship – relationship!!!!!!!
Reflection-Action 1 Do you agree that the theme of sending is at least a primary theme throughout Luke’s gospel? Is so why? If not, why not?
Reflection-Action 2 Is it helpful or not for you personally, to know that Luke is the author of the Acts? Can you describe how it is helpful or not? As you pray and think about these things, what has God revealed to you about the idea of ‘being sent’ and does this revelation have any practical implications for how you have lived, currently live or will live your life? If nothing, that’s OK but if something, what practical implications and is there anyone you should share with about this or compare notes with or more importantly still, pray with about this?
Reflection-Action 3 See if you can imagine yourself present in the gatherings that are described in Luke 24: 45-49 and Acts 1: 3-11. Write down a few things you might have thought or even felt during these special times of connection with Jesus. How would you have responded do you think? Would you have agreed with the next steps that the disciples took? Why? Why not? Are there any important lessons for you to record for current or future reference, challenge or encouragement?
Reflection-Action 4 Take a few moments to read Luke 24: 13-35. Considering what you now understand from Luke’s theme and purpose for writing, why do you think Luke is the only gospel writer who includes this story? In what ways might this growing clarity be helpful to you as you carry and represent God’s presence where you live, work and play?