Here and Now: The End is Where We Begin

Key Passages: Acts 28

Writer: Kate Dang

 

Big Idea:  When the book of Acts began, there was a small band of believers following in the ways of Jesus.  By the end we see a movement that has reached from Jerusalem to Judea and Samaria, while Paul finds himself in Rome proclaiming the Kingdom of God and teaching about Jesus unhindered.  

Discipleship Focus: Serving Globally

 

One of my favorite movies growing up was the Return of the Jedi. I loved how all of the story lines from the previous movies came together to reveal a new and deeper truth. Luke is Princess Leia’s brother, Lando is really a good guy, Darth Vader was really just a man named Anakin who is redeemed in the end, oops sorry forgot to say spoiler alert. It is masterful storytelling for the author of the Star Wars saga to reveal new truths at the end of the story, which makes you reexamine the entire story. The books of Acts is similar in its power.

 

Acts is the continuation of the story of the Gospel of Luke, both written to “Dear Theophilus”, to give him “an orderly account of the life of Jesus” and then the beginnings of the Jesus movement, which today we call the church. Throughout this account, Luke is trying to expand the readers understanding of Jesus and to get us to see the entire story of Scripture through this new prism of Jesus. As we come to the close of the book, we see how Luke has told the story of the church primarily through the lives of two men, first Peter, and then Paul. Much of our knowledge of the life of Paul is from this book, and it would be easy to overlook it as simply the history of Paul’s life, but that would not be giving Luke enough credit.

 

Paul is finally in Rome, the place he is headed towards the entire book. He will stand trial and ultimately be executed here, but Luke wants you understand something more than just the facts.  Paul has performed miracles, which like Jesus are going to strengthen the claims of Paul’s message, and now he is going to preach. This preaching is similar to the teachings Jesus gave at the end of Luke’s Gospel (see Luke 24:44) “he expounded to them, testifying to the kingdom of God and trying to convince them about Jesus both from the Law of Moses and the Prophets” (Acts 28:23). Paul is making the case that what we call the Old Testament is really about Jesus, and to understand these scriptures, we have to understand Jesus. This would be as shocking to them as it was for audience in 1983 to hear that Leia was Luke’s sister.

 

Paul invites us to view the entire story of God through the announcement of the Kingdom of God made by Jesus of Nazareth. When the Jewish leaders heard this, some were convinced but others were confused and angry, to which Paul responds to them with a passage from Isaiah. The book of Isaiah is the story of the commissioning of the prophet. It is a very famous scene where he is in the temple and sees God on the throne surrounded by angels. God predicts the people of Israel will not hear the call He makes to them and they will continue to rebel against the call of repentance. God’s judgment upon the people will be like cutting down a large tree, but in the stump of the tree a young sprout will be “the Holy Seed.” This “Holy Seed” is then explored in the rest of the book of Isaiah as being the King promised from the line of David who will return victorious to His people and restore a faithful remnant of Israel. Paul is inviting us all to see Jesus as this Holy Seed, the one who returned to Jerusalem and invites anyone who repents into His kingdom, into the family of God. We are commissioned to take Jesus’ proclamation of victory to all the ends of the earth.

 

Read: Acts 28:17-31

 

Discussion Questions:

 

  • Why do you think Paul went to such great lengths to introduce himself and clear himself before the Jewish leaders?
  • How do the Jewish leaders respond? How do you think Paul might have felt when he heard this response?
  • Paul tried to convince them about Jesus Christ from the Law of Moses and the prophets. How can we put the truths about Jesus and the kingdom of God into a cultural context for those around us?
  • God has put each of us where we are. How can you be an obedient witness in sharing the Gospel with the people around you?
  • How can we be more aware and involved in ways God is working around the world?

 

Daily Reading:

November 12– Acts 26:1-32 (pg 148-152)

November 13– Acts 27:1-12 (pg 152-154)

November 14– Acts 27:13-26 (pg 154-156)

November 15– Acts 27:27-44 (pg 156-158)

November 16– Acts 28:1-16 (pg 158-162)

November 17-18– Acts 28:17-31 (pg 162-164)

 

Weekly Prayer Focus:

Pray that our church would have opportunities to boldly proclaim the Good News throughout the world.