The first account I composed, Theophilus, about all that Jesus began to do and teach, until the day when He was taken up to heaven, after He had by the Holy Spirit given orders to the apostles whom He had chosen. To these He also presented Himself alive after His suffering, by many convincing proofs, appearing to them over a period of forty days and speaking of the things concerning the kingdom of God.
– Acts 1:1-3
Yesterday, we read the opening lines of Luke’s Gospel. Today, we read his opening lines in the Acts of the Apostles…and notice the similarities.
Again, we see reference to “Theophilus” (lover of God). Luke is describing his gospel as a record of “all that Jesus began to do and teach, until the day when He was taken up to heaven.”
Luke also tells us how Jesus spent the forty days between His resurrection from the dead and His ascension into heaven: 1) convincing His disciples of His resurrection, and 2) teaching them more about the kingdom of God (the central topic of His teaching ministry).
As to convincing His disciples of His resurrection, He wanted to make sure no one thought His resurrection was anyone’s hallucination. He appeared to a variety of people in a variety of circumstances over a period of forty days. You might think it would be really neat to be one of the people to whom Jesus physically appeared. Before you conclude that, however, you should think about how their lives were threatened – and even taken from them – because of their willingness to testify of their experience.
Peter did not believe because James believed. James did not believe because Mary Magdalene believed. Mary Magdalene did not believe because one of the other twelve apostles believed. Jesus appeared to them all! In a prior daily devotional, we read this:
After that He appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time…
– 1 Corinthians 15:6
No one living today should doubt for a second what these people were claiming. They were not uncertain; they were not confused. Call them liars or fools if you dare, but don’t for a second think they weren’t clear and emphatic about claiming that Jesus of Nazareth rose from the dead!
(Remember that prayer is more about listening than talking. Use the words below to start yourself, but then allow time to reflect more on the Scripture above before you say the “Amen.” During that time of quiet reflection, let God shape your thoughts and wait for a sense of peace to come. That’s your signal to say “Amen” and go forth to the day.)
Lord, thank You for sending us witnesses who risked their necks to tell us the truth about Your resurrection. May our lives make them glad they did…(this is where you remain quiet to let Him work in your thoughts)… Amen.
(All scriptures, unless otherwise noted, are taken from the NASB.)